PHILIPSBURG:--- On Wednesday, June 8, 2022, the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs and a delegation including the Chief of Police Carl John, Chief Inspector Benjamin Gout, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs Patrice Gumbs, and support staff attended a high-level cooperation meeting with recently appointed Préfet délégué for Saint Martin and St. Barths Vincent Berton together with Secretary-General Julien Marie, Commander of the Gendarmerie Maxime Wintzer-Weheking, and Regional Health Agency (ARS) Territorial Director Paul Guibert. The cooperation meeting was planned to update on the current health situation as it relates to COVID-19, the possibility for collaboration in water distribution, disaster preparedness, and several topics which will form part of the Q4 binational meetings.
During the meeting, both delegations discussed the status of COVID-19 on both sides of the island which remains quite stable with minimal hospitalizations. ARS Territorial Director Guibert expressed that cooperation and collaboration between Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and the ARS continue in order to safeguard public health. Both will also continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety and health of the general public.
On the topic of water distribution, Préfet Berton expressed an interest to collaborate with St. Maarten to ensure sustainable water distribution for both sides of the island. A collaborative initiative would allow for the uninterrupted quality in the water supply to the entire population.
Prime Minister Jacobs informed that preparations for the hurricane season were well underway as the Office of Disaster Management and all Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) have their plans in place for the season. Préfet Berton explained that his Cabinet was diligently preparing for the season together with the Collectivité of Saint-Martin. Key persons from the Cabinet of the Préfet and Government of St. Maarten were identified to attend disaster meetings on each side of the island to ensure synchronization of public announcements and measures to be taken. One such meeting has already taken place in the North and follow-ups will take place.
Within the framework of the Q4 binational meetings, Quadripartite cooperation was also discussed, particularly the need to establish a set date for the Q4 meeting at the end of the year. The finalization of health, education, internal security, and coastguard protocols between the two national States, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France, and the territories of Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten are being worked on for more sustained cooperation.
“The cooperation meeting with Prefét Berton was a fruitful one in which we were able to come to agreements on the way forward where pending matters of collaboration are concerned. As such, I look forward to the continued working relationship with our northern counterparts to finalize our joint protocols aimed at sustainable development and ensuring a good quality of life for our people," concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.