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MP Emmanuel questions Doran about re-locating people from landfill to FOGA.

cemmanuel12042021PHILIPSBURG:--- Independent MP Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday dispatched a letter to the Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran with a number of questions regarding the reported relocation of persons living on the landfill to brand new homes to be built at the area known as the Foga Housing Development Project in Sucker Garden.
Emmanuel said in his letter to the Minister that persistent rumors and unconfirmed reports must be addressed post-haste as there were existing plans for the area. One of his 10 questions to the Minister queried if there is any validity to the report that persons living on the landfill will each be compensated financially to move as well as the legal status of these individuals.
“The facts I know of is that the former leader of the National Alliance signed off on the Foga project in the area of the Melford Hazel Sports Auditorium to provide homes for young professionals returning home from college and other service professionals in the justice chain for example. About 32 homes I believe were to be constructed. The question now is what happened to those plans and if they were changed why. I hope the Minister uses the opportunity to clarify this issue,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP asked Minister Doran the following questions:
1. What were the original plans intended for the development of the so-called FOGA Housing project area?
2. If this area was intended for homes, please explain what type of homes (low cost?) and how many homes?
3. Has any infrastructure preparation been carried out in the area in preparation for the construction of the homes? If yes, what were the costs attached hereto and please explain these works? If not, please explain why not.
4. Is it still the intention of the Ministry of VROMI and/or the Minister to stick to the original intention for development?
5. Has the Ministry and/or the Minister of VROMI changed the plans for the FOGA area? If yes, please indicate how?
6. Is it the intention Minister of VROMI to re-locate the persons currently residing on the Philipsburg landfill (the dump) to the intended new homes at FOGA?
7. If yes, how many people does this involve? Are they legal residents? Were their current homes built legally on the landfill? What about citizens who have been waiting on the provision of affordable homes?
8. Is it the intention of the Ministry and/or the Minister of VROMI to pay these persons to re-locate? If yes, why and what is the compensation? And from where will government derive these funds?
9. If the answer to question 6 is yes, please indicate if the Council of Ministers has approved this decision and when.
10. If the answer to question 6 is yes, is it the intention to let the people who also operate businesses on the landfill, to do so at FOGA as well? Were these businesses operating legally on the landfill?


groupphoto15092021TORTOLA:--- The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has called for a digital and balanced recovery in the Caribbean from the COVID-19 pandemic at a virtual dialogue on work and life in the region, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural and Organisation (UNESCO) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) on 9th September 2021.
During the dialogue’s High-Level Panel, Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley made remarks on the importance of balancing the social, economic, and digital aspects of recovery in the Caribbean. According to Mr. Wheatley,
“In the context of COVID-19, there can be no separation of economic recovery from social recovery. The two are intimately tied together. The economic dislocations and risks to public health brought about by the pandemic have increased the number of socially vulnerable people in the Caribbean who require ongoing support. There is, however, an opportunity to make the recovery more inclusive and equitable based on our knowledge of the vulnerable groups who we know will be left behind if policy interventions are not made.”
He also called for regional efforts to ensure the public at large is healthier and economically empowered when the Caribbean eventually achieves a full recovery from the pandemic.
“What we require is a recovery in which the population emerges from the pandemic healthier and able to more meaningfully participate in the society and economy. Achieving this would involve a sustained public health campaign focused on healthier lifestyles and economic empowerment initiatives,” Mr. Wheatley said.
Regarding the role of digitization in recovery, the Special Envoy highlighted the acceleration of digitization in the region in response to the pandemic, which can be an advantage in the near- and medium-term.
“The pandemic has pushed the Caribbean to become more digitized in its operation and more innovative in the delivery of services. In fact, digitization in both the public and private sectors has taken place at a pace that previously seemed unattainable. Although connectivity remains imbalanced in the Caribbean, we have made great strides since 2020. We have significantly improved our ability to work and learn via online platforms, as well as boosted e-Government and the ability to deliver public services electronically and virtually. This will hopefully improve the overall productivity and efficiency of the Caribbean in many areas of life,” Mr. Wheatley said.
Dr. Marcia Potter, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Agriculture and Fisheries, also participated in the virtual meeting and highlighted the need for the region to establish long-term unemployment benefit schemes that provide financial security for employees in the event of mass layoffs from a future pandemic or another external economic shock such as a natural disaster.
The BVI’s input at the dialogue on Equitable Recovery in Caribbean SIDS will contribute to UNESCO/UWI’s policy recommendations on recovery in the region and the provision of resources for implementation.

MP Sarah Wescot-Williams: “Government too comfortable with their lack of accountability to parliament.

sarah04022016PHILIPSBURG:--- During the Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 2021, convened for the purpose of ratifying the parliamentary committees and hear from the Prime Minister on the position of government in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, MP Wescot-Willams chided the government for its lackadaisical attitude towards the parliament of Sint Maarten.

The MP was particularly taken aback by the matter-of-fact presentation by His Excellency on behalf of the government of St. Maarten, stating that the 2022 budget will reach parliament only in November 2021.

“ It is only a few weeks ago that the Minister of Finance stated emphatically that the budget would reach parliament by the constitutional date and that is ‘the government shall submit one or more drafts of the budget to Parliament each year, no later than the second Tuesday in September.”

“To say the budget will get here in November without any explanation or even an apology is taking this parliament for granted, which is unacceptable, at least to me. Ironically, the current Minister of Finance, who is responsible to get the budget to parliament, was a signatory to a motion against his predecessor P. Geerlings for the fact of not presenting a budget on time. Clearly, that motion was only expedient to get himself and his colleagues in the seat of government. Now in the seat, apparently proper governance has no priority for this government.”

In the same notifications, MP Wescot also alluded to a request by several factions, including her own for an urgent public meeting on the topic of long lease land management by the government. In their request, the factions USP, PFP, and UD alluded to the public debate taking place, the concerns expressed by the Ombudsman on this matter, the land and/or property tax proposal, and government’s blanket announcement to take back land from defaulters, as issues of concern for them.


niaclasses15092021PHILIPSBURG:--- The National Institute of Arts (NIA) kicked off the new school year 2021-2022 in September once again with a very special collaboration between the Bronxville Ballet NOT FOR SALE (BBNFS), director Ana Dimas and Arts Saves Lives’ director Nicole de Weever. “For the second time Ms. Dumas selects NIA for this beautiful program” says Director of NIA, Arlene Halley.
The Bronxville Ballet NOT FOR SALE is Ana Dimas’ nonprofit foundation that takes its name from the notion that the best things in life are indeed, NOT FOR SALE. The best things in life should be given away.
In Ana’s desire to give back to the community, she is collaborating with studios around the world offering the joy of Ballet to those in need or with special needs, the hope of Ana’s program is of having the girls learn new skills, gain a positive self-image and have a chance be a “princess”.
Last year Ana not only sponsored 10 classes for the students but with the assistance of Nicole de Weever, NIA received nothing less than 25 “Princess” dresses, custom-made, and hand delivered from New York by Nicole de Weever.
The response this year has been so overwhelming, once the class was posted to NIA’s Facebook page, that Art Saves Lives, Ms. Nicole de Weever, will match Ms. Dimas’ donation and support the classes until the month of December. An extra 26 dresses have been donated by Ms. Ana bringing the total to 46 ballerinas
The participating “princesses” receive their dresses when they sign up which they joyfully sport every class. Due to the COVID-19 prevention measures the students are split into 3 classes: 3-5 years, 5-7, and 7-9 years old. Last year Ms. Arlene announced excitedly to the donors the enrollment of four additional ‘prince charming’.
Through these kinds of donations, NIA will be able to continue ballet classes free of charge for 46 young ballerinas from 3 years to 9 years old until December 2021. NIA hopes that more benefactors will come forward and support these efforts until the end of the school year. Donations can be made to NIA by contacting the school at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
It is with heartfelt gratitude that NIA would like to thank the Bronx Ballet NOT FOR SALE and Art Saves Lives, Ana and Nicole, for the continuance of this wonderful initiative towards our St. Maarten children and for promoting the art and benefits of Ballet especially in these difficult times when it is so needed to bring some joy to the little ones and a touch of Magic.

MP Duncan Inquires about OECS Membership.

ludmilladuncan20012020PHILIPSBURG:--- On Tuesday 14th September, Member of Parliament Ludmila Duncan sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting information on and seeking support regarding the possibility of St. Maarten joining the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as an associate member. “This is the worst economic and health crisis our people have faced so far, however, it is also the perfect time for St. Maarten to seek out new and impactful relationships and partnerships, especially within the region. The OECS would be the perfect place to start,” stated the MP.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an international inter-governmental organization dedicated to promoting economic integration and trade cooperation among its member states in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS comprises eleven member states with Guadeloupe being the latest to join as an associate member in 2019.

“By becoming an associate member of this economic union and adopting the organization’s common approach to health, education, trade, the environment, and energy, we would be able to receive some much needed technical assistance, knowledge, and a variety of resources to grow critical sectors. Right now St. Maarten needs to seriously develop a local agriculture industry, revitalize our tourism industry and create new public assistance programs for those in need,” noted Duncan.

In her letter to Government, the MP asked a number of questions including whether the Government was open to engaging with the OECS by sending a mission to discuss possible membership. Duncan also inquired about the cost and feasibility of membership at this time as well as any information on what the process would entail. Duncan also informed the Government that she has already started to build relationships with OECS leadership and other key persons within the region.

In 2017, 30 young entrepreneurs from eight OECS member states (Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, and Martinique) were issued awards for their innovative businesses via the OECS Youth Empowerment Strategy. “There are so many development programs and projects for the youth, entrepreneurs, farmers, policymakers and more, that will come with membership. I also believe that we will finally begin to strategically reposition St. Maarten in the region as a force to be reckoned with, in addition to opening up an array of new social and economic opportunities for our people,” Duncan added.

“I believe that it is time to seek OECS membership and begin to engage our brothers and sisters within the region as we rebuild our country’s economy and create new ways to further St. Maarten’s development,” concluded the MP.


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