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Economic Diversification and Resilience.

In addition to the severe effects of Irma, we now also need to worry about a second and potentially third wave of the CoVid-19 outbreak once the (quarantine) restrictions are further loosened. Quarantines and travel bans have helped slow down the outbreak but driving the new coronavirus out of existence is now looking increasingly unlikely. History doesn’t have to repeat itself and we may become immune to CoVid-19 but there are also chances for successive waves like the 1918 Influenza pandemic: the Mother of All Pandemics. If so, 3 extensive pandemic waves of CoVid-19 or a mutation of CoVid-19 occurring in rapid succession, with only brief intervals between them would be dreadful.

The coordinated closing of all borders for months allowed nations to anticipate further contamination and ensure the safety of their citizens. The advantage of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin (“the Island”) is that it is secluded and it is in the middle of the ocean, therefore an easy solution to protect citizens against further contamination is for now, to only allow essential travelers to continue crossing borders: scientists, doctors, journalists, politicians, businesspeople etc. This can be achieved by reaching agreements on the pre-screening of travelers and allowing individuals that are in good condition to submitting themselves to monitored quarantine. This is already being implemented in some jurisdictions and will be further reinforced globally once the second wave begins.

Sint Maarten is a small tourism-dependent and environmentally vulnerable economy. Dutch and French governments recently committed to help to stimulate both economies, sure, but the total dependency ratio of the population on tourism is too high, and suspending traveling and closing all borders for months already caused hardship. For the first time in decades, the future of the Island is no longer dependent on its ability to receive tourists, but in its ability to survive without them. Forget about cruise ships for a while, expect a tanking tourism industry, increase in prices, shrinking GDP (see recent IMF reporting, 07-13-20), lower investments, and an increase in unemployment — all of which will lead to the behavior of individuals and firms to forever be changed.

The ones with liquidity will survive, the others will “starve”. This reality is not just exclusively ours, Sovereign States, and citizens from around the world are threatened by health and economic uncertainties and will struggle to save their economies. This will continue long after quarantines and pandemic waves and as defined by the theory of evolution by natural selection; the ones that can adapt to change will survive; others will become extinct.

Drastic times call for drastic measures and it is why we must act quickly and decisively in rethinking our economy. We must take into account the long-term consequences of our actions and ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of Island we want to inhabit once the Covid-19 and -20 storms pass.

One option could be to transform to a sprawling “Innovative”, financial and tech-friendly Island producing its own clean energy. Such transformation would mean further liberalizing and actively promoting the private-sector. Country’s Regulation laws that could help to achieve this are already in place (see the Economic Free Zone Laws “EFZ”) and would require minimum efforts for the Island but the returns would be felt immediately.

The EFZ would offer a hassle-free environment in which companies could operate. A competitive and comprehensive regulatory, fiscal, and unique innovation ecosystem would offer immense benefits to all participants and to the Island. Companies would establish/seat their headquarters. Start-ups and developers would come for support, talent, and capital. Investors would come to look for high fliers, financial institutions seek collaboration and adoption, the business and general public would learn about innovative solutions, and overseas governments would launch bilateral partnerships.

The EFZ could become a world platform and forum for the implementation of technology. Businesses and partners would be encouraged to foster success in training, talent development, and placement of individuals wanting to master today and tomorrow’s technology challenges. It would offer training programs and education on blockchain, AI (Artificial Intelligence), but also medicine and related healthcare subjects with the contribution of technology.

Diversification of our economy and our education system is a necessity and this scenario would have a direct positive impact on our youth, education, sport, health, and employment. It would help protect our citizens against the future effects caused by great monetary inflation. It would allow the Island to offset temporary economic falls but most importantly, help to further strengthen the Island’s financial and economic stability, it’s sustainability and autonomy, it’s autonomy prosperity, and global recognition.

The decisions our politicians will take in the coming weeks and months will shape the Island for years to come and as a socio-economic transition approaches, the natural forces that are pushing towards changes is offering our government a broad choice. They can go with the flow and support transition or they can build barricades. Preparing the way for a transition will mean taking action in the form of national decrees. It will mean fewer pretended agreements on policy and more realistic ones.

The unwanted alternative, keeping blinders on, allowing tourists to contaminate the Island and maintaining the current course; will lead to a dramatic depression and proliferation of truly draconian effects on trade and capital flows.

This EFZ scenario offers the Island a splendid opportunity, let us welcome it!

Malick Maachi
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ZUG, Switzerland
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SPIT IN THE FACE OF FOREIGNERS.

You came out with Project: No More Foreigners, “kindly asking (unemployed) immigrants to leave the island”. You had the heart to say you spoke to some people and you heard their cries but now you are “kindly asking them to leave.” In other words, you heard them but they are not your concern and if things are that bad, they should probably go back to whence they came. As far as saying, it does not matter whether they have permanent residency or not, it can be revoked. Their application will not be approved nor will their residence permit be renewed.

You listed them as the cause for a potential “rise in crime” due to being unemployed. You are also finding ways to send the already incarcerated back to their homeland to serve the remainder of their sentence. Some of which, have lived on St. Maarten most of, if not their entire lives. Possibly, having no family in their country. But okay, we get it… you don’t care, not your problem.

If you take a look at the precious tourism industry, consisting of hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. How many locals are employed at these establishments? IMMIGRANTS and FOREIGNERS make up the majority of the tourism industry that this very country needs to survive because the Government does not even have a grain of salt to fall back on. Many people lost these jobs due to COVID-19. Is that their fault? Many locals are unemployed. If they commit crimes, where will you send them? Back to their mother’s womb or their father’s sack?

SPIT IN THE FACE OF YOUR PEOPLE

We will NEVER forget you for letting us, the people of St. Maarten know that you, so-called Honorable Minister do not need that job to eat. That you were doing just fine before this job and anyone that knows you know that. You do not need to brag about being in that position. Yet... you hold your head so high with an invisible nose bleed making sure that invisible crown doesn’t take a tumble. You act as you care. But those that you have stepped on know better.

If you can wrong your own flesh and blood, who is anyone else? St. Maarten is small and that skeleton closet is smaller. Be careful.

You are so quick to fuel the plane, boats, surfboards, you name it, transporting immigrants out of this country while harboring one right in your ministry! Trying so desperately to find a place for this person. They have contracts and scandals attached to them but you turn a blind justice eye. You allow this person to overstep, bypass, disrespect, and influence all with your blessing. Why? Because you can. You know we are not blind but again, you do not care. You are willing to take food out of your locals’ mouth to feed someone not of this soil. The irony. 

Everyone can see you operate from a place of power and it makes you tingle. You make decisions that cause us to constantly wonder “WHO IS ADVISING YOU?” Wow… the instability, the insanity! We know, we know, we know you do not care about us but you could at least pretend. You make decisions thinking no one can check you for it because you are the almighty minister and there is no one above you. However, lest ye forget how you ended up in that position because you did not earn it outright. 

It is not a secret that for years the Police Force has been at the top of the food chain (a standard you have publicly maintained) while the other divisions within the ministry (Immigration, Coast Guard, Prison, etc) have been bottom feeders begging for scraps. But lo and behold, you have somehow managed to upset the officers as well. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Word of advice: Seeds sown with ill intent will never bear good fruit. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame. Your time is almost up and you will never again see the light of day in politics. Then again, ha you don’t need that job. Lucky you!

P.S. The one good thing you did was the construction of a new prison in early 2021. Oops, sorry, Holland already took that away from you. How does it feel to have food taken from your mouth, Lady Justice?

Sincerely yours,

Injustice Vigilante

Termination of trust in the interim director and management team of the Mental Health Foundation.

Dear Dr. Felix Holiday,

 This letter has been composed to inform you about reasons for termination of trust in the interim­ director Ms. Eileen Healy, intended director and current medical coordinator Ms. Kitty Pelswijk and HR officer Mrs. Carina Ellis-Romney, by employees, due to structural long-lasting mistreatment and
abuse of power against employees of the MHF, in which we cannot speak anymore of good employer ship by the directors of MHF and the HR officer.

 History of Leadership Issues

 There have been bad records pertaining to high staff turnover before Ms. E. Healy retired in 2014. Ms. Healy got a new position as an advisor to the new director Mr. P. Lucas but was relieved from her function in less than 3 months. In 2017, an announcement was made to the staff of the intention to appoint Ms. E. Healy as the director or project coordinator. The staff was aware of the need for a director, as MHF relieved Mr. P. Lucas of this position and has been without a director for a couple of months. The previous union, United Federation of Windward Island Antilles(UFA) responded by sending a letter to the Board of MHF strongly advising to reconsider putting Ms. E. Healy in any leadership position. In addition, a meeting was held with the Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and labor (VSA) on this concern. Nevertheless, Ms. E. Healy has been hired on September 1, 2017, with one of her task being recruiting a new director. It is June 2020 and therefore, concluded there has been no real efforts and success in getting a director. Ms. E. Healy claimed there are no good candidates and applicants are asking for a high salary. This seemed to be an excuse to keep a leadership position for 3 years. For instance, there has been increase in recruitments between 2017 and 2020; there are now 4 psychologists,3 psychiatrists,2 clinic nurses,
4 case managers,11nformation and Prevention coordinator,2 social workers and 1occupational
therapist.

Culture of fear

 For a long period, the former and currently interim director of the MHF created a culture of fear amongst employees, systematically and continuously mistreating and abusing power towards selective employees, who want to remain anonymous due to fear of severe repercussion and incomplete transition to our new union ABVO. There is no one to speak out for staff, everyone in management (Ms. L. Jones, finance manager, human resources manager, medical coordinator/psychiatrist, and interim director) are committed to Interim director. Ms. E.Healy made it clear and sent a memo informing staff, she has the last say in all decisions. Furthermore, we are
experiencing the mistreatment from the intended director, Dr. Kitty Pelkwijk (it is announced she will be the replacement in Jess than a month moving from Suriname to work at MHF as a psychiatrist). Also, Mrs. Carina Ellis, human resources manager, wilfully adds unrest to the work environment by encouraging the ill-treatment of the majority of the staff. Below are examples of an unpleasant situation at MHF:

Use of Cameras' Footage and Tracking GPS

 Cameras are installed around the building with audio and GPS on company cars. The records are retrieved and used to reprimand staff based on management's conclusion, without staff seeing the actual records or discussing beforehand with the coordinator. As a result, the content of warning letters
is frequently not an actual description of the situation and is based on one-sided false information by
the directors of MHF. Furthermore, there should be an explanation of why the above is not use for all 30 plus employees. Why is management spying on employees who were not under the suspicion of illegal or criminal behavior by law? Security cameras and car tracking devices are not installed for these purposes, but for safety and data collection reasons. No policy for cameras with audio was handed or explained to staff, clients, and MHF's neighbor (whose voice could be picked up by audio). In addition, staff was informed of audio after cameras were installed in and outside the building.
The use of security camera footage and car GPS data by Ms. Healy is not only contributing to the culture of fear but is also a severe breach of the individual privacy and illegal by Jaw (Aigemene verordening persoonsgegevens;EU-AVG).

 Quality of care

 The interim director does not recognize and take responsibility for the problems regarding the quality of care pronounced by different caregivers of MHF. Instead,Ms. E. Healy criticizes caregivers' feedback. Moreover, Ms. Healy is systematically excluding certain experienced and highly educated healthcare workers from participating in the process of decision-making on medical content affecting clients' care. This top-down decision-making brings MHF healthcare workers in conflict with the loyalty to giving good care to our clients. Staff will face repercussions of the MHF interim directors for not following rules that may violate quality care to clients. The director is overly involved in certain planning but her role is indirect care, so she does not give treatments, do mentorship, evaluate care plans, and do not know clients' interest.
Secondly, in March 2020 the transition to a new electronic client dossier has a negative impact on the quality of care. There was little training that always included new changes in the system (as MHF is the first to use this system).In addition, medical information, including diagnosis and use of medication, were no longer available, which gives immediate and severe risks for the safety of the

giving care to clients.

 Nevertheless, Ms. Healy has the audacity to send an email blaming staff for low production and praise her effort for paying staff salary during COVID-19. The director is aware that all clients' data have not been transferred to the new clients' system. Also due to limited space, the clinic is booking appointments based on 3 available rooms.

Unworkable situation

 The above-mentioned problems are only a small part of the presented problems at MHF. The current situation is affecting the health of certain caregivers which has a negative effect on the quality of care of the clients. Ms. E Healy is creating tension at the workplace, involving herself in the department's situation (imposing to do things her way). The rules and regulations of the organization have not been updated since 2014, but staffs have to adhere to a lot of changes. In addition, management often references to policies that do not exist or have not been updated in years to argue their case against workers. There is also the hiring of staff, whose function is not clear and relevant at the moment. In conclusion, we cannot speak of good employer ship by law (Burgerlijk Wetboek; article 7:611) anymore and this has led to an unworkable situation for the caregivers of the MHF. Therefore the caregivers of the MHF are terminating the trust in the directors and the HR officer of the MHF.

It is regretful that it has come to this point and that the caregivers of the MHF feel the necessity to inform the board of directors, the Minister of VSA and the Inspector General Earl Best, about the deteriorating situation. It is expected that the board of directors will start with the process of taking adequate measures that will resolve the problem within the next two weeks after receipt of this letter. All affected caregivers will be open for discussion with strict confidentiality of mentioning names. We expect that the board of directors of the MHF will protect the caregivers against repercussions taken by Ms. Healy and Mrs. Carina due to sending this letter.

Equal and fair treatment

 The director is known for sending or saying insulting things( e.g.I am the boss no one should go to the board, I do not care about your emotions, I am paying your salary, you went to school but cannot speak/write English properly,I will get a lawyer and get rid of you if labor department does not agree). A small group can get away with wrongdoings, while those that are executing their job in honesty, fairness with passion, and dedication are penalized and embarrassed in front of other staff.
A health care institution should not be "functioning" on the favoritism of being friends or family. It should be functioning on dedicated professionals.

Solutions


We are proposing the following solutions:

 1. Board of MHF evaluates the management team {medical coordinator/psychiatrist, finance manager, and HR). Evaluate their performance, staff relationship, and assertiveness in making decisions that differ from Ms. Healy. and qualified to fill position temporarily.

 3. Do not appoint Dr. Kelpwijk director, start recruitment of a new director (should function independently and without fear that Ms. Healy nor Mrs.Carina can unfairly influence the continuation of employment).

 4. Provide training in human resources management to Mrs. Carina and evaluate after 3 months. Mrs. Carina should be reprimanded when she manipulates staff in signing documents. It should be clear she will not get away with being using the law only when it is convenient for management and not with staff.

In closing
In 2017 a letter was already sent to the board of the MHF and the then minister of VSA,find this letter attached. Clearly staffs are still suffering and the situation is deteriorating. We hope that this time we will be taken seriously. We hope that you as a board will not allow this structural problem to continue.

 Hoping to have informed you accordingly. Awaiting a prompt reply, within 2 weeks
We appreciate a response to all staffs' email; job email addresses can be retrieved from Executive
Assistant at MHF.

 Kind Regards, Concern MHF Staff

 Cc: the Honorable Minister of VSA,Richard Panneflek
Cc: Inspector General,Earl Best

Juancho Vrausquin Blvd.#11,Philipsbur& St.Maarten,E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..P:+1-721-5504348

 To: Mental Health Foundation
The Board and management team
Ms. Tess Blom
Leopard Road #1
Cay Hill, St. Maarten

 Attention: MHF Leadership

 Philipsburg, August 211 2017

 Dear Ms. T. Blom,

Although the MHF Board received a carbon copy of the letter send (email7/7/2017) to the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Mr. E. Lee and a copy of the letter was presented to the MHF staff on the bulletin board at the MHFI the UFA never received an official written reaction from the MHF to the letter in question, which we regret.

Nevertheless, several UFA members reported that actions were taken by the MHF on some of the issues addressed in the abovementioned letter. Although the UFA welcomes the fact that actions are being taken and decisions were made to tackle some urgent issues, the UFA is not satisfied with the way in which they were shaped.

Concerning the issue of the President of the MHF it's reported that it has been communicated to the staff that the President will make his position available once a replacement has been found. The UFA is of the opinion that this is unacceptable for an organization in a situation as mentioned before because the recruitment- and appointment process for this position could take several months, therefore the UFA suggests that the President of the Board has to resign immediately and make his position temporarily available to one of the other board members while the Board will look for a replacement of the President

The other issue on leadership is the one reported on the intention or decision by the MHF to appoint Ms. E. Healy, a former MHF director, as the new director or interim director or project coordinator as from the 1st of September 2017.

The UFA is shocked that this option was even considered and communicated as a solution to the situation the MHF is in pertaining to the leadership of the organization. One of the biggest challenges the MHF is facing at the moment due to the lack of leadership and direction is staff turnover. The UFA mentioned the staff turnover as

Juancho Yrausquin Blvd.#11,

Philipsburg,St.Maarten, E:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..P:+1-721-5504348

being worrisome in the letter to the Minister and since that letter was sent a couple of employees left the MHF because they weren't satisfied with the current situation at the MHF.

It has been reported that Ms. E. Healy who is a former director of the MHF had a bad record pertaining to the staff turnover, mostly due to her lack of decent and effective communications- and leadership skills towards staff.

The UFA is of the opinion and strongly advises the MHF to reconsider the intention or decision to install Ms. E. Healy in whatever leading position at the MHF. The UFA is not convinced that having Ms. E. Healy in any such position will do staff or the MHF any good and her presence will ultimately jeopardize the operation of the organization.

In the meeting of Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 with the Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor the UFA made her position clear in respect to the issues mentioned above. The UFA also mentioned that she would send a letter to the MHF
addressing these issues, the Minister explicitly requested to receive a carbon copy of
the letter.

We are, therefore, in the interest of the staff and clients of the MHF, requesting an urgent meeting with you to discuss these matters at your earliest, but no later than Monday, August 28th, 2017.

 

Hoping to have informed you accordingly, Awaiting a prompt response,

Yours truly,

 

 signature21062020

 

Mr. Lloyd Beaton, President of the UFA.
o.b.o. The staff of the Mental Health Foundation

 

 

 

 

cc: The Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor.

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