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Fifth progress report 2015

BES Islands -

Introduction

In front of you is the fifth progress report of the Kingdom Representative for the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. This report discusses the developments and investments that were made on the three islands in 2015 by the Ministries involved. Again, steps were set out for improving the service of the Central Government for the Island Governments and the people of the Caribbean Netherlands.
The further acquaintance with the islands, the visits of MPs and ministers, the election of new Island Councils on the three islands, the preparations of the CN Week in June, signing of the Multi-Annual programs with Bonaire and Saba, setting greater administrative supervision on St. Eustatius, drafting an Plan of Action to improve the civil service and administrative organization on St. Eustatius, the presentation of the findings of the evaluation committee Caribbean Netherlands (Committee Spies) and the referendum on Bonaire created a busy and eventful year 2015.

All those involved, from both the European Netherlands and from the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland and the public entities, have done a lot of work to help the people and to provide as reliable and fast service as possible to the citizens. This report discusses only the efforts made from the perspective of the Central Government. It is being investigated if in the future this report can be structured differently and an insight can also be given into the efforts of the public entitiest. This would allow highlighting and balancing the intended cooperation and mutual effort.

The Kingdom Representative has used 2015 to redefine the role of the Kingdom Representative as an administrative link between The Hague and the Executive Councils of public entities on the basis of the review of the National Coordination in the Caribbean Netherlands, the ISB Report and the Commission's small evaluation of the Caribbean Netherlands. However, in

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2015, it became even more apparent that the direction and coordination from the Kingdom Representative on the three islands should be toughened. It became explicitly clear while implementing greater administrative supervision on St. Eustatius. Both at island level as within the ministries involved, the basis of voluntary willingness to cooperate is insufficient for allowing the necessary direction and coordination from the Kingdom Representative. This has impact on the relations both in The Hague and in the Caribbean Netherlands, but also on the islanders. Also the report of the Committee Spies addresses this issue.

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With the signing of the Multi-Annual Programs and the evaluation of the Caribbean Netherlands "Five years connected" a next phase in the relations between the European Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands shall begin. The basis has been set for the new relationships, recommendations have been formulated, the Kingdom Representative is familiar with to the governments of the islands and the inhabitants. Hand in hand we are going to build the future of the Caribbean Netherlands.

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Important developments & activities in 2015 in the office of the Kingdom Representative

In 2015, on all three islands the Kingdom Representative received several delegations from the Netherlands. The programs and the supervision thereof takes place in close coordination between the heads of delegation, the employee protocol and the Kingdom Representative. Herewith below is a brief chronological account of activities of the Kingdom Representative in 2015.

January

In early January 2015, the members of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of both the Dutch Senate and the Dutch House of Representatives paid a working visit to Bonaire. This was followed by a working visit of the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations to all three islands. The Kingdom Representative has also used this period to get further acquainted with the islands and their inhabitants.

February and March

In February, the State Secretary of Security and Justice paid a visit to all three islands. In early March, the 'CN table' (Caribbean Netherlands table) took place in The Hague. The investigation into the BES-fund 2015, which was ordered by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), was discussed among other things.

In March, the elections to the Island Councils were held on all three islands.
On Bonaire the new party Movementu di Pueblo (MPB) won 3 seats. The coalition was formed by the Partido Demokrátiko Boneriano (PDB) and the Union Patriótiko Boneriano (UPB). They signed a coalition agreement on April 12th, 2015.

On St. Eustatius, political parties PLP and UPC have formed a coalition. The Island Council (5 seats) now consists of three factions. Saba has shown a stable development in comparison with the previous period, although the current government WIPIM had to

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relinquish a seat to the SLP. The incumbent Executive Council was able to continue with the administrative work, which resulted in continuity of governance and stability.

April

In early April, the Minister of Defense got acquainted with St. Eustatius and Saba. The month of April also was marked by the celebration of the Dia de Rincon on Bonaire on April 30th, which was celebrated in the presence of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

May

The preparations for the CN Week (Caribbean Netherlands Week) demanded a lot of time and effort in this month. Many preliminary talks with the island governments, ministries in The Hague and coordination with members of the CN table.

June

The Minister of Security and Justice got acquainted with St. Eustatius and Saba in June.
Furthermore, this month was marked by the CN Week in the week of June 8th. The Executive Councils of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and official advisers came to The Hague at the invitation of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The focus of this week was on the ongoing poverty reduction, Children's Rights and promotion of the economic development. The Multi- Annual Program (MAP) was developed on the basis of the development plans of the islands. In the course of the CN Week, following the talks between the Kingdom Representative and Ministers, the different Ministries released incidental funds from their budgets to address specific issues on the islands. This, combined with the team effort of the Island Governments, has subsequently resulted in agreements which are included in Multi-Annual Program of each island. The programs have been endorsed by a signature of Coordinating Minister Plasterk of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Island Governments of Saba and Bonaire.

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Unfortunately, the MAP has not been signed for St. Eustatius.

The evaluation of the CN Week has shown that both departments and the islands no longer need this type of joint coordination. Now that a Multi-Annual Program was adopted for each island, it has become more important to ensure the coordination between each island and The Hague. To this end, the Kingdom Representative has made a proposal to the CN table to be specified further, which aims at delivering more tailored approach to each island.

The Multi-Annual Program (MAP)

The Multi-Annual Program should be regarded as a steering instrument of the government policy on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba for the next few years. In this way an attempt is made to make a direct link between the Cabinet and the Executive Councils of the three islands over substantive issues between the European and the Caribbean Netherlands.

The MAP consists basically of three pillars: poverty reduction, economic development and Children's Rights. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) has also commenced a program Strengthening the Island Government, as it appeared that the Island Governments are insufficiently equipped to deal with all opportunities and threats which they face and the implementation capacity needs attention. The islands have used the period after the CN Week to better coordinate the many projects on the agenda within the island itself, as well as with the relevant social organization and the departments in The Hague. The implementation will still require the necessary preparation and detailing from each island.

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Precisely here the linking role of the Kingdom Representative becomes evident, because, as it has been stated by the Cabinet earlier, his mandate is partly prompted by the Multi-Annual Policy Program.

The MAP offers the possibility to make specific arrangements for each island based on local circumstances. The MAP is the instrument which integrates the implementation of the policy from The Hague by the Kingdom Representative and the local government with support from the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) at a practical level. Direction, coordination and harmonization at the local level converge with the corresponding support of the Kingdom Representative.

Supervision

On June 10th, 2015, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations placed the Executive Council of the public entity St. Eustatius under (greater) administrative supervision and gave an instruction as specified by the BES Public Entities Finances Act (Wet Financiën Openbare Lichamen BES). These "drastic measures" were chosen in view of the fact that the financial and administrative situation of St. Eustatius was so worrisome that it prompted a direct intervention in the functioning of the public entity.

On June 11th, 2015 the minister gave instructions to the Kingdom Representative to establish a Steering Committee under his chairmanship, which would draft a plan of action in order to gain control of the situation. The Executive Council has lodged a notice of objection against the decision of the minister. In late November, the objection was declared admissible, but unfounded by an external commission (which held a hearing on Statia).

August and September

In late August the State Secretary of Economy- Agriculture and the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport visited respectively Saba and Bonaire.

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On September 1st, 2015 the Kingdom Representative presented the 'Plan of Action regarding the financial and administrative problem of St. Eustatius' to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The Minister presented the Plan of Action on September 7th to the Executive Council, so that this Plan is put on the agenda and implemented. In this period the relationship between the Island Government and the Kingdom Representative was heavily pressured and on St. Eustatius little to no concrete steps were taken to improve the administrative and financial management of St. Eustatius.

Following the decision of the external Appeal Commission and the decision of the Minister, the Executive Council and the Island Council have indicated their intention to cooperate with the implementation of the Plan under the leadership of the Kingdom Representative.

With strong support from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Commision for Financial Supervision (Cft), the Kingdom Representative has continued the implementation of the Plan of Action and the improvement of the financial management.

In September 2015, the Kingdom Representative and Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland launched a new initiative 'Corporate Citizenship' on the three islands. In this way the Kingdom Representative wants to increase his engagement towards the population even more. The Kingdom Representative does this, among others, in the form of (limited) sponsoring to small social initiatives, organizations or events, which make a positive contribution to society and to the development of the Caribbean Netherlands. The theme for 2015 and 2016 is 'Youth and Youngsters'. This theme is linked with the priorities 'Children's Rights' and 'poverty reduction' in the Multi-Annual Program (MAP).

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October

On October 12th, the evaluation committee of the Caribbean Netherlands, chaired by Ms. Spies, published the report on the implementation of the new constitutional structure of the Caribbean Netherlands. The evaluation committee assessed the effects of the first five years of the new relations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The evaluation committee presented no recommendations, but findings and stated that "it is too early for a final judgment; the period of five years is too short for this." The Committee has concluded that disappointments overshadow the positive developments. The Spies committee has presented a good picture of the feelings of discontent among the citizens. In some areas, this discontent may be unjustified, but it is certainly recognizable in various aspects of the daily life of the three separate islands and therefore should be considered a 'reality'. Certainly when it comes to the level of prosperity and the visible poverty among some population groups. The concern about basic necessity of life dominates the daily life within these vulnerable groups. The Spies committee has given sufficient starting points for further improvements.
The committee Spies has also stated that the current administrative efficiency of the public entities and the official support are not on the desired level. Furthermore, the role of the Kingdom Representative should be considered as the
administratively responsible outpost' on the islands on behalf of the Council of Ministers.

The Kingdom Representative has also expressed his views and has suggested a concrete solution to the coordinating Minister.

November

Another new initiative of the Kingdom Representative is the project “Building bridges” – Ilanders. The Kingdom Representative uses the RCN, as the largest employer in the public sector in the Caribbean Netherlands, to set an example and to put more efforts into bringing back the

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'island children', who are going or went to study in the Netherlands. The idea is to stimulate the youth of the islands to come back by offering them an internship at the Rijksdienst.

The conditions for making this idea attractive will be further specified.
In the month November, the last CN table of 2015 took place. In this meeting the attention was given to, inter alia, the preparation of a response from the islands and the Ministries to the report of the committee Spies.

December

After a long demonstration by "Nos Kier Boneiru Bek" ("we want Bonaire back") in front of the Government Administration Building and the Pasanghran (Council Hall) of Bonaire, a referendum was held on December 18, where the voters were asked if they were satisfied with the current relationship with the Netherlands. In the run-up to the referendum, there was a lot of confusion among the population in regard to the question. The turnout was 62%, of which a large majority of 65% expressed dissatisfaction with the current relationship with the Netherlands.

RCN/Central

The past year was marked by a critical analysis of the current organization of the RCN/Central. The analysis, conducted by KPMG, has shown that there is significant room for improvement in all areas. This is contrasted with an assessment of mature and professional Shared Services Organizations (SSO). The analysis gives reason to take action and some of the improvement points mentioned in the analysis have already been addressed. In 2016, the implementation manager will further fulfill a phased and controlled change of the organization, the service and the structure thereof.

The Kingdom Representative and the Director of RCN /Secretary of the Kingdom Representative, have held consultations on a regular basis with all department heads on matters related to the management as well as

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on substantive issues concerning the Caribbean Netherlands.

Integrity

In 2015, the RCN set itself a goal to strengthen integrity awareness among employees. Integrity remains an important issue for the Rijksdienst and its employees. The main instrument used in 2015 was the Code of Conduct. Different themes in the Code were discussed in the team meetings. Special video clips were made to illustrate those themes. Using role play, the employee themselves have made the topic of integrity discussible. The confidential advisors are growing more and more in their roles and are well known among fellow employees. Various sessions were organized for employees and managers to discuss dilemmas using case studies. Cooperation with the Integrity Coordinator of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations was given further shape in 2015.

One-stop-shop

In recent years, numerous developments have changed the relationship between the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) and the citizens. The community (citizens and businesses) in the Caribbean Netherlands also sets increasing demands for the service and the structure of the Rijksdienst. Consumers of public services become more empowered and insist more and more often on transparent and demand-oriented integrated service. In addition, there is pressure from the National Government to organize the service as efficiently and effectively as possible. Citizens and businesses now need to go for relatively simple issues to different offices in various buildings on the islands to get answers to their questions. The information is fragmented, present in or between the organization(s) and insufficiently coordinated. This results in unnecessary long waiting. Given the small scale of the islands, there are plenty of opportunities to set up the one-stop-shop, where citizens can contact the RCN and/or public entity for a variety of services in one

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place. Therefore, the cooperation of relevant Ministries and public entities is needed.

Staff supervision

138 staff decisions were presented to the Kingdom Representative for approval last year. In the meantime, experience has proved that staff is appointed not only by the decisions presented to the Kingdom Representative, but also on the basis of contracts and project assignments. The Kingdom Representative has addressed this topic in the meeting with the island governments, because in such a way the total overview of appointments is not clear while this is indeed the intention behind the staff supervision.

On November 4th, 2015 the amendment to the Municipality Act (Gemeentewet), the Province Act (Provinciewet), the Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba Public Entities Act (Wet openbare lichamen BES) and the Water Board Act (Waterschapswet) were published in the Bulletin of Acts and Decrees (Bulletin of Acts and Decrees, 2015, 426). The proposed law will take effect as of February 1st, 2016 and will entail two important changes in the WolBES. The first one concerns the acting Island Governor. According to the new Article 90, the Island Governor will be replaced in the event of his absence or inability to act not by representative an island Commissioner, but by an external deputy, who shall be appointed by the Kingdom Representative.

The second change concerns the extension of the approval authority of the Kingdom Representative with respect to the decisions on appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of island civil servants. This authority shall be extended to those who are hired under contracts for services. This ensures the better clarity of the overall picture and prevents an 'escape route' used to date when it comes to the appointments of surplus employees.

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Sector meeting

Also in 2015, both formal and informal meetings were held with the unions. In the sector meeting such subjects as the salary and fringe benefits, regulations on employee participation, scheduled shifts and appointments, as well as various organization and formation reports were discussed.

Employee participation

In 2015, the unions and the employers reached an agreement on the pilot scheme of employee participation at the Rijksdienst CN. In this way there is employee participation at the Belastingdienst, Fire Department, Correctional Institution Caribbean Netherlands, Dutch Caribbean Police Force and RCN/Central. Employees choose a Participation Council that can influence the management. The members and the heads of departments receive trainings to gain and retain proficiency in employee participation. The Participation Councils can hold meetings with each other and exchange their experiences. In this way, this pilot provides the basis for a more permanent form of participation.

Media

In 2015, the Kingdom Representative organized several media moments to inform both the press and citizens as directly and effectively as possible. Within the framework of the (greater) administrative supervision of St. Eustatius, the Kingdom Representative communicated intensively with the citizens through media, e.g. Info Bulletins distributed on the island, in writing as well as by radio and television.

The Kingdom Representative has always answered the questions from the media and has regularly participated in radio and television programs in order to provide information to the citizens. These are often questions about government services, policy changes/objectives of different Ministries, letters to the Parliament or about

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general matters that require attention on the particular island.

There seems to be an increase in the feelings of unrest and dissatisfaction among certain groups on the islands. This "negative attitude" often has an anti-Netherland character without always being explicitly stated. The Kingdom Representative is trying to play a role in reducing this negativity through open-communication channels, by keeping a Facebook page, in interviews with the media and especially by showing visible presence and participation in the daily affairs on the islands.

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Explanation of the main elements per department

Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations

Rights of Children

In 2015, the Dutch House of Representatives made 3 million euro available by amendment to ensure the improvement of Children's Rights in the Caribbean Netherlands. As a result, each of the three islands has prepared a plan of action in regards to Children's Rights and these plans were discussed in mid 2015 during the CN Week.

Bonaire has invested great effort in describing the implementation of the Action Plan Bonaire. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to be able to start implementing these plans. UNICEF has been asked to provide its support. To this end, they have made a sort of "menu", which describes the potential support, for example, in Children's Rights education and participation. The three islands are going to make use of this offer.

Evaluation of the Caribbean Netherlands

On October 12th, 2015 the evaluation committee of the Caribbean Netherlands, chaired by Ms. J.W.E. Spies, published the report on the new constitutional structure of the Caribbean Netherlands. The evaluation committee assessed the effects of the first five years of the new relations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Electoral Council BES

The government has adjusted the proposed constitutional reform of the Caribbean public entities at the request of the Dutch Senate and the Dutch House of Representatives. According to the new proposed law, two elections will take place after the constitutional reform, which is expected to begin in 2019. One election for the Island Council, where Dutch and non-Dutch residents can vote. And one election for an electoral college for the Dutch Senate, where only Dutch citizens can vote. In this way, non-Dutch residents can retain

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the right to elect members of the Island Council. The goal is to reach a constitutional settlement for the political position of the public entities, in which the constitutional guarantees for municipalities and provinces are declared applicable mutatis mutandis and the participation in the election of the Dutch Senate is made possible.

Multi-Annual Program

On June 11th, 2015, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations negotiated the Multi-Annual Program Caribbean Netherlands 2015-2018 with the Executive Councils of Bonaire and Saba. In this Multi-Annual Program, the islands of Bonaire and Saba have laid out agreements with the Dutch government on, inter alia, poverty reduction, Children's Rights and economic development.

Major components thereof are, for example, strengthening the governance of the islands (1.5 million euro per annum), introducing the child benefit allowance in the Caribbean Netherlands, the mobilization of resources for the neighborhood approach, setting a benchmark and investments by Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment in infrastructure projects totaling 21 million euro.
The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has considerably invested in supporting economic development. For this purpose twice a sum of 495,000 dollars (Bonaire), 225,000 dollars (St. Eustatius) and 180,000 dollars (Saba) has been made available.

The money for St. Eustatius is in the possession of the Commission for Financial Supervision (Cft) and has not been released yet; it is important that St. Eustatius first clearly indicates what its plans are.

The resources allocated to Bonaire will mainly be used on the island for a Strategic Tourism Plan, microcredits (Qredits) and the establishment of a Bonaire Trade and

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Investment Board. 8 credits have already been given to start-ups, while 21 applications are still being processed.

Saba has deployed resources for improving tourism and for development of some business cases in order to strengthen its economic position. It is somehow related to the feasibility study of the ferry connection to the Windward Islands. Saba has yet to send a formal accountability report, but has already shared some progress informally and by email.

Living and building

The intention to introduce a form of the National Mortgage in the Caribbean Netherlands is further explored in 2015. It is expected to be put into action in 2016. At the request of Bonaire a process has been started to modernize the regulations in the field of the housing market. This leads to the amendment of the Rent Assessment Committee Regulations Act BES [Wet huurcommissieregeling BES] (change in tasks and responsibilities of the Rent Assessment Committee), as well as to an amendment of the Civil Code BES (inter alia, temporary rental for certain target groups). The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations provides technical assistance in drafting the island regulations. The proposed law has been submitted for comments to the three public entities and then referred to the Council of State.

In anticipation of the legislative reform, the CBS, commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, will provide an overview of the rental housing market on Bonaire and Saba.

The collaboration between the Dutch Housing Association 'Woonlinie' and St. Eustatius was put 'on hold' in December 2014, because the Executive Council had indicated that they were not willing to respect the agreements they had signed with regard to the necessary reorganization of the local Housing Foundation. Since then and until the end of the year

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there were no developments in this field on St. Eustatius.
The cooperation between the Own Your Own Home Foundation (OYOHF) on Saba en Woonlinie is going extremely well. In December 2015, the OYOHF and Woonlinie extended the existing cooperation, the management and building of apartments for rent on Saba by 5 years (2016-2020). In addition, a new residential vision was established for Saba that will serve as guidance towards a future-proof residential area. Also the cooperation between Fundashon Kas Bonairiano
(FCB) on Bonaire and ‘Thuis’ is going well. In recent years, a lot of progress has been made towards professionalization of the FCB. In that context, new Articles of Association for FCB have been drafted, which still have to be approved by the Island Council of Bonaire.

Central Government Real Estate Agency (RVB)

The RVB has put in place a team of 21 employees in the Caribbean Netherlands which is engaged in the development and realization of local construction projects, supported by a team in the Netherlands. The RVB is active on the six Caribbean islands. As in previous years, the RVB worked in 2015 on the conservation and management of all proprietary and rental premises and on the realization of miscellaneous major and minor construction projects. In 2015, the construction of a new jail and fire station on Bonaire continued. Both buildings are expected to be completed in 2016. Also, the Healthcare Insurance Office, which is a part of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, has rented a new building. Furthermore, the RVB has been commissioned by the Ministry of Security and Justice to dismantle the temporary Correctional Institution on Bonaire. Additionally, the projects of a new fire station at the Saba airport, the administrative office and the extension of the detention capacity on St. Eustatius are being developed. Finally, the RVB has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education to renovate

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schools on the three islands and is currently working on this project. The renovation started in 2012 and is expected to be completed in 2019.

Ministry of Defense

The focus of the KMar (the Royal Netherlands Constabulary) was in 2015 on the further development and enhancement of border control, detection of border- related crimes and the implementation of the KMar police tasks on Saba and St. Eustatius. Key priorities of the year 2015 were:

  •   Attention to strengthening integrity and functioning of the airport (gate keeping);

  •   Further development of the staff professionalism (by changing, inter alia, mode of deployment);

  •   Supporting local law enforcement agency (Dutch Caribbean Police Force).

  •   Improving cooperation between agencies (Customs, Police and Coast Guard).

    With regard to the maritime border surveillance, the cooperation with the Coast Guard Curacao was strengthened mainly for Bonaire. The same applies to Saba and St. Eustatius, where the cooperation with the Coast Guard St. Maarten was reinforced.

    Several times an appeal was made through the Kingdom Representative to provide military assistance, which was granted by the Minister of Defense in all cases.

    Ministry of Economic Affairs

    2015 was a special year for energy supply. With a grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the transfer of the 43 year old, loud and polluting diesel power plant was initiated from Saba to a safer place, with less loud and cleaner new turbines. The construction of a Solar Park by SEC on Saba is delayed because of troubles with land ownership for the proposed construction site. The case needs to be decided in the court of law. On Saba the tourism plan has been stimulated with additional deployment of the former USONA funds.

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On St. Eustatius STUCO has started the construction of a Solar Park with the support of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In the area of promoting entrepreneurship on Bonaire an additional impetus has been given by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The modernization of the Chamber of Commerce Bonaire has started with financial support of Ministry of Economic Affairs. The new building is meant to become a House of Entrepreneurship [Ondernemingshuis].

Qredits, the microcredit institution from the Netherlands, has started providing guarantees for start-ups. The participating agencies, Bonaire Business and Employers Association (BBE), the Chamber of Commerce and public entity Bonaire, have agreed on the tasks and the form of Bonaire Trade & Investment Board. Much attention has been paid to entrepreneurship courses by the CoC, the Scholengemeenschap Bonaire, Qredits and training center Forma.

Promoting entrepreneurship on Saba and St. Eustatius remains a challenge due to the small market and barriers in, for instance, Telecom / Internet tariffs. Concerns about high prices in the supermarkets on the three islands resulted in preparation of an initiative in the end of the year to reach voluntary agreements on Saba and St. Eustatius, similar to the BonKompra system on Bonaire.

On Bonaire little has been done to promote tourism, there is still no Strategic Tourism Plan.

Nature & Agriculture

The Biodiversity Database for the Caribbean Netherlands has been set up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and is now a source of information about biodiversity in the Caribbean Netherlands (also including Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten). The visit of e State Secretary Dijksma to Saba and Bonaire in September 2015 led to the establishment of the “Yarari” marine mammal and shark sanctuary for protecting those animals in the waters of

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Saba and Bonaire. Not such good news came from
St. Eustatius, where the island suddenly and without the necessary consultations had decided to reduce the Marine Park by 20% in order to develop the potential of the seaport. This decision of the island was declared non-binding by the court.

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The visit of State Secretary Dijksma to the Caribbean Netherlands led to the signing on Bonaire of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the agricultural field between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the public entity Bonaire.

The MoU concerns the capacity development at the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the public entity Bonaire and the establishment of a Center of Expertise, experimental and demonstration center for sustainable farming techniques and everything related to the Rural Development Project, scenic country routes, support for small projects and initiation of forage production with water from the sewage water purification plant.

The public entities Bonaire and Saba have submitted an official request to the State Secretary asking to revise the now outdated pesticides legislation. In late 2015, the Ministry of Economic Affairs made specific Agro-funds available for the three islands (70,000 euro). The research into possible solutions to the problem of stray goats has been done by the University of Wageningen on Bonaire.

On St. Eustatius, with the budget from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a veterinary doctor was hired for the 'roaming animals' project. As much as livestock and meat can now be tested daily, the exports of meat to the surrounding islands have substantially increased.

Electricity and drinking water BES Act (Wet elektriciteit en drinkwater BES)
The Electricity and Drinking Water BES Act was adopted by the Dutch House of Representatives unanimously in late 2015. The Act shall take effect after approval by the Dutch Senate on July 1, 2016. The governments of the three islands have already approved the content of the legislative act.

The Act was drafted by two ministries: the Ministry of Economic Affairs (electricity) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (drinking water).

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There are two designated supervisors: Authority Consumer & Market (ACM) for the economic supervision and Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) for the technical supervision.

In order to implement these tasks, the ACM has stationed two employees on Bonaire. ACM will establish reasonable tariffs for electricity and drinking water on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. ACM will also check if the utility companies set reasonable terms for consumers and businesses who buy electricity and drinking water. The Act also makes it possible to generate one's own electricity by using, for instance, solar panels, which will allow people (and companies) to meet their demand for electricity by themselves and to supply electricity back to the network. Consumers will receive a (small) remuneration for supplying electricity back to the network.

Ministry of Finance

In regards to taxes, there were no substantial changes in the tax laws and regulations - apart from the annual inflation - for the Caribbean Netherlands by January 1st, 2015.

However, in the course of 2015 the State Secretary of Finance decided to introduce a new measure in the Tax Plan 2016 submitted on the Day of the King’s Speech (Prinsjesdag), which entailed that the reduced rate of the general expenditure tax (algemene bestedingsbelasting) for St. Eustatius and Saba (2% lower than in Bonaire, 6% instead of 8%) would be continued in 2016.

During the development of the new tax system for the Caribbean Netherlands it was agreed and directly laid out in the legislation that the reduced rate for St.Eustatius and Saba would be valid for a period of 5 years, i.e. from 2011 to 2015. Partly in response to requests from St. Eustatius and Saba, this period is extended by one year.

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The supervisors of financial markets of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES), De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) carried out their normal duties in 2015. These duties included in some cases the institutions headquartered in Curacao or St. Maarten. The supervision of the island branches of the financial institutions, which have their headquarters in Curacao or St. Maarten, by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten was discussed in 2015 by the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

Almost all the activities of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in 2015 concerned further implementation of agreements in the field of aviation, drinking and wastewater and the environment, including waste. In addition, new agreements have been made during the CN Week in June in the field of maritime transport and roads.

The implementation of the prepared master plans for airports (phase 2) has been taken further. The airport on Saba has been renovated with the exception of the runway. An important part of this was the removal of a hill. The airport on St. Eustatius has been entirely renovated, including the runway, the taxiway and the platform. A new air control tower was built in Bonaire airport. Furthermore, the implementation of the final components of the master plans has started, including the renovation of the runway on Saba and of the FISO- towers on St. Eustatius. The civil aviation authority has conducted 9 inspections / audits of the airports / air traffic control and various inspections in the context of Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA).

In order to improve waste management on Saba and St. Eustatius, new waste sites are built, where separated waste can be collected, sorted and prepared for recycling. Biomedical, infectious and non-recyclable waste can be incinerated. On Saba, the site is in use and there are some problems that require attention; on St.

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Eustatius the entry into service is expected in the first half of 2016. On Bonaire, the building of the waste site has been delayed by one year. The site is expected to be completed in 2016.

In relation to the issues pertaining to (drinking) water, all islands have received a grant to lower the transportation costs of drinking water in order to increase the water quantity. On Saba, the construction of a parking lot with a gray water cistern was financed and possible measures to improve the quality of drinking water were identified.

The maritime incidents organizations on each of the three islands have participated in a joint workshop on St. Maarten, during which both administrative and operational crisis organizations were discussed. Additionally, a maritime drill took place on each island. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has contributed to the Saba’s HurEx (hurricane exercise) in collaboration with Defense.

On Bonaire, the construction of the sewerage network has been completed (with the grant from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment), the management of the wastewater purification (sponsored by the EU) has been further optimized and the supply of gray water for the hotel industry and agriculture has started.

The "Decree on large facilities environmental management" (BGIM) entered into force in 2015 placing the issuance of permits and supervision of Bopec, Curoil and NuStar under the authority of the Minister. The issuance of the permits is the responsibility of Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management [Rijkswaterstaat]. The inspections are performed by ILT in collaboration with RWS, Inspectorate SZW, Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department /Safety Region of Rijnmond- Rotterdam. In 2015, BOPEC, Curoil Hato and Curoil Airport on Bonaire were inspected twice and NuStar on St. Eustatius was

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inspected once.

The State Secretary decided in 2015 that as of January 1st, 2016 the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) will take over the meteorological services on the islands from the Meteorological Service of Curacao.

In order to improve the port on Bonaire, the port authorities of Amsterdam were commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the public entity Bonaire and the first steps are set to establish a vision and a plan for the further development of the seaport.

In the context of the MAP, 3 million euro will be invested in the seaport of Saba, 12 million euro (roads and port) on Bonaire and 6 million euro in the roads of St. Eustatius. In anticipation of those major projects and with funds from those budgets, an emergency repair on the South Pier on Bonaire was carried out and dredging works were conducted in the harbor on Saba.

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

RCN Social Affairs and Labor Unit is responsible for the implementation of AOV, AWW, social benefits (Onderstand), Sickness and Accident payments, work permits, labor inspectorate and employment matters (discharge permits and mediation in labor disputes).

They also evaluate the applications within the framework of Integrated Approach Caribbean Netherlands. RCN Social Affairs and Labor Unit has offices on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The offices on St. Eustatius and Saba are small, with more emphasis on the customer service and assessment, where the final steps (decision and payment) of different work related processes take place on Bonaire.

Integral (social) projects

There were 10 ongoing projects and 12 new projects in 2015, distributed across Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Important provisions like home care, subsidized

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child care, social work and job programs have been implemented.

Overview of integral projects per island:

Labor Inspectorate I: Inspection project Working as domestic worker
In 2015 the Labor Inspectorate conducted inspections "into" foreigners who are employed as domestic workers. 31 situations have been inspected. The housing of foreigners on Bonaire and Saba was generally in order; however, on St. Eustatius the standard quality of housing was so bad, that it was not appropriate to take enforcement action. In a number of cases the possibilities offered by the Labor Code were applied very liberally and five cases of possible labor exploitation of domestic workers were detected. Recommendations were made on the basis of the results. A brochure has

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been published, aiming at improving information for both private employers and domestic workers. The brochure has been published in four languages. Those 31 inspections were carried out in a project form. The results are presented in a short report in the form of a fact sheet.

Labor Inspectorate II: Joint action with KPCN

 

The Dutch Caribbean Police Force and the Labor Inspectorate carried out controls on 91 employees, which aimed to detect the illegal employment. 37 persons were foreigners, who required a work permit. 23 (62%) out of those 37 foreigners were working without the necessary papers. The RCN Social Affairs and Labor Unit seeks to limit the labor exploitation and displacement of the local labor by foreigners. They would like to do this by increasing the administrative efficiency of the public entities and by working closely with other stakeholders. The

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goal is to control the labor market, to issue fewer work permits for foreigners and to create more opportunities for the local population.

Child benefit allowance

The year 2015 was marked by the preparations for the introduction of the child benefit allowance in the Caribbean Netherlands (as of January 1st, 2016). This is a financial contribution from the government towards the expenses of raising a child from 0 until 18 years old. Every parent or caretaker of children aged from 0 to 18 years old is entitled to receive child benefit allowance. From late November to mid-December 2015 special pre- registration days were held and an extensive information campaign was run on all three islands.

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is also a part of the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, located on Bonaire and St. Eustatius.

It is a mix of policy makers and operational staff who support schools in carrying out the Education Agenda and support students and parents in applying for or repaying the study loan. In addition, they form the link between the schools in the Caribbean Netherlands, the Kingdom Representative and the Ministry in The Hague.

Education quality

In 2015 further actions were taken to implement the Education Agenda for the Caribbean Netherlands. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has provided support for schools and Special Educational Needs Expertise Centers on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The Education Inspectorate has found that more and more educational institutions on the islands have

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achieved basic quality. The basic quality was achieved by 9 out of 12 schools in the primary education, 1 out of 3 schools in the secondary education (with the exception of the department of vocational education), 2 out of 3 Special Educational Needs Expertise Centers and 2 out of 3 institutions for social opportunity pathways for the young (SKJ). Achieving basic quality is an aim of the Education Agenda of the Caribbean Netherlands for the period 2011-2016.

Scholengemeenschap Bonaire

In 2015 a lot of attention has been given to the issues of the Scholengemeenschap Bonaire (SGB). In October 2014 the Education Inspectorate researched the administrative actions of the SGB and concluded that the administration was not "in control" and had insufficient insight into the quality of education and the budget. In August 2015, a new school administration took office; the Dutch House of Representatives was notified about this. None of the three departments have achieved the basic quality yet. To support the new administration, the program 'improve learning' has been launched with a grant from the Secondary Education Council.

Educational accommodation

In 2015 progress was also made in improving the educational accommodation on Bonaire. Renovation includes the removal of the asbestos contained in some school buildings.

On June 27th, 2012 a Plan for Educational Accommodation 2012-2017 was negotiated. This plan sets out the investment of 19.1 million dollars from the Executive Council and 34.9 million dollars from the Ministry of Education. The construction projects are carried out under direction of the public entity of Bonaire and the Ministry of Education together with the schools boards. The Central Government Real Estate Agency is responsible for supervision of the execution. The investments in educational accommodation on the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands are an expression of the shared responsibility of the Central Government

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and the public entities for education on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.

In March, the construction of the Watapanaschool on Bonaire was started. At the same time, the construction of the Brede School Amplio Papa Cornes continued in 2015. The master plan Scholengemeenschap Bonaire (SGB) was approved in early 2015.

In addition, an ambitious document and a general master plan were prepared for the entire area of the SGB, Forma and Fundashon Cas Bonairiano, in order to pursue an integrated vision of educational accommodation at this location. At present, an archaeological research is taking place on and around the SGB grounds.
The European tenders for designing both the new MBO building and the new Liseo building have taken place. At present, the Central Government Real Estate Agency is awaiting a go-ahead to begin construction of the MBO and expansion of the Liseo. The designs were prepared for the renovation of the San Luis Bertran.

The preparation of the designs for the renovation of the Reina Beatrix has begun and is almost completed. After a tender, the preparation of the design of the sports building SGB has begun.

The renovation of the Golden Rock School on St. Eustatius was completed. The handover will take place in early January 2016. The implementation of so-called disaster recovery has been completed at the Bethel Methodist School and initially unsafe buildings have been renovated and brought back into use.

The design of the Bethel Methodist school was prepared in 2015. The implementation of this project was tendered in the autumn of 2015. The renovation will begin in early 2016. The program of requirements for the Gwendoline van Putten School is established. The preparation for the European tender of this project was launched.

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The renovation of the St. John's Sports Facility (Peter L. Granger Sport Auditorium) on Saba has started in 2015. The interior of the gym is already finished and is equipped with modern plastic floor and acoustic damping wall.

Ministry of Security and Justice

The focus of the Ministry of Security and Justice is on enforcement agencies active in the field of Security and Justice. Among others, the Fire Department and Police, KMar, Public Prosecution Office and correctional institution, rehabilitation, Guardianship Council and Immigration and Naturalization Service work on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius to ensure security and justice.

In 2015 security and justice agencies continued working on the development and professionalization, including with the construction of the new barracks of the Fire Department Caribbean Netherlands next to the airport. Also a new facility for the Correctional Institution Caribbean Netherlands is being built. The start of the construction phase was announced in February 2015 by the State Secretary for Security and Justice. The endeavors to build a new facility are accompanied by the development of a new daily program and a new vision of work so that detainees are as well prepared as possible to return to the society.

The various security and justice agencies have invested a lot into training and education, which has further improved the base for professional practices.

Important steps were taken in the domain of the collaboration between the security and justice agencies and with other services, such as addiction care and youth care in 2015. Thus, the Safety House Bonaire was established in March 2015, where the chain partners cooperate in the field of safety and care. In addition to a steering committee of the Safety House, there are also case studies chaired by a process manager, aiming at making comprehensive plans of action for cases with complex, multiple problems.

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Also within the domain of supervision and enforcement, the cooperation intensified in 2015 with the creation of the steering committee Bavpol (special police officer). Dutch Caribbean Police Force, Public Prosecution Office, Department of Civil Enforcement [directie Toezicht en Handhaving], Stinapa, Customs, Compulsory Education and Labor Inspectorate jointly supervise the Bavpol training.

In late 2015, initiatives were undertaken to create an Island Platform for Crime Control (EPC) on Bonaire. The Police, Public Prosecution Office, government, entrepreneurs and trade organizations seek more and better collaboration in order to improve prevention and solution of crimes against local businesses. The Center for Crime Prevention and Safety (CCV) will support the further establishment of the EPC Bonaire.

In 2015, the following resolutions were passed regarding aftercare, detention capacity in the Windward Islands and the free legal aid:

  • -  The Ministry of Security and Justice decided in late November to provide financial assistance to Krusada Foundation for a period of eighteen months for the purpose of setting eight places for reception and reintegration of ex-offenders.

  • -  In late July, the State Secretary in his letter to the Dutch House of Representatives announced that a detention facility with a capacity of 12 places was expected to be built on St. Eustatius in 2017, as an integrated part of the existing Police Station.

  • -  In November, a decision was taken to increase tariffs for free legal assistance (KRB) by approximately 50% as of January 1st, 2016. The so-called 'court fees' for criminal and civil /administrative cases are now $750. Also the fees for the duty attorney have been increased by a similar percentage.

    The above mentioned has prompted the security and justice agencies to implement already in 2015 a new,

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multi-year policy framework, which sets out the security and justice priorities for the period 2016-2020.

Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

The evaluation report from committee Spies submitted late in 2015 (Five years Caribbean Netherlands) has shown that the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is on the right track. At the same time, there are still improvement points, which will serve as guidance for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in the next few years.

Since January 1st, 2015, the Decree on Health Care professionals BES’ is in effect. The certificates of competence for doctors, dentists, nurses and/or pharmacists on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba meet Dutch/European educational requirements. The goal is that every professional who falls under the Decree meets the knowledge requirements for the certificate of competence by 2020. In 2016, a new implementing directive to the 'Decree on Health Care professionals BES' shall take effect and the exemption scheme from the ban on work as health care professional in the Caribbean Netherlands will be more professionalized. This is necessary, because no BIG Act exists in the Caribbean Netherlands.

Since 2015 the improvement of the primary health care has been a major concern. This will be achieved through a specific four-year training program for GPs (general practioners). In connection with this training plan, the Health Insurance Office will provide support for GPs to adopt the way of working of the health care groups. This is meant to improve the treatment of common chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic heart failure in the Caribbean Netherlands.

In 2015, the number of seats for renal dialysis at the hospital Fundashon Mariadal on Bonaire was increased. On St. Eustatius, the construction of the hangar for the helicopters, which provide emergency transport from St. Eustatius and Saba, has started. The construction of the

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hangar is almost finished and in early 2015 also the second, big helicopter with long range was positioned on St. Eustatius.

Medical treatments abroad in countries other than CN are continuously improved and refined. In 2015, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport during his visit to Colombia agreed to simplify the procedures concerning the care provided by Colombian hospitals to patients from the Caribbean Netherlands, making health care more effective and efficient. The duration of medical treatment abroad remains an important concern. Both the number of the transfers and the average length of stay in Colombia are decreasing. The decrease in the number of medical treatments abroad from Bonaire is also caused by the introduction of new techniques such as the CT-scan and contrast agents for performing cardiovascular diagnostics in Fundashon Mariadal. The Healthcare Insurance Office has contracted a second hospital on St. Martin in the French part of the island.

As to the mental health care, the Psychiatric Ward of the General Hospital (PAAZ) was completed on Bonaire in 2015. The mental health care team works with a certified fact-team (Flexible Assertive Community Treatment), making the outpatient approach so successful that the number of admission places for mental health care could be considerably decreased.

In 2015, an analysis of the implications resulting from the extension of the application of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was initiated. This analysis will be completed in July 2016.

It is intended that the Treaty also applies in the Caribbean part of the Netherlands as soon as possible.

In the autumn of 2015, the State Secretary paid a working visit to the Caribbean Netherlands. He attended, inter alia, the housing training on Bonaire. This training prioritizes the individual needs; its focus is on practical and social skills and on reestablishing contacts with the family.

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He also visited the day care for elderly and some youth care institutions in Saba and Bonaire.

With regard to the youth care, both the working processes and the quality of the care further improved in 2015. In the autumn of 2015, the Youth Care Inspectorate conducted a repeat survey into the quality of youth care, which specifically concentrated on the improvement progress. The report of the inspection is expected in early 2016. The proposed law, which provides that the supervision by the inspection requires a legal basis, is currently being discussed in the Dutch House of Representatives1.

Addressing child abuse and domestic violence is given high priority. At the request of the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport, the investigation is being conducted in consultation with the relevant partners on the islands into how a significant improvement can be achieved through the introduction of a hot line and accompanying measures.

The HPV vaccination was also introduced on Bonaire in October 2015; this had already been introduced on St. Eustatius and Saba. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) provides support in this task. Controlling mosquito populations and the diseases that those mosquitoes transmit is a task of the local authorities. Responsible mosquito control consists of destruction or removal of these breeding grounds or from treatment of these breeding grounds with a biocide in order to prevent larvae from maturing into adult mosquitoes. The mosquito control on Saba in 2015 was very effective and a chikungunya outbreak was prevented.

 

WINAIR and British Airways sign interline agreement

AIRPORT ROAD, St. MaartenWINAIR and British Airways have announced the successful implementation of an interline agreement between both carriers.

The Shoot Hoops not Guns campaign brings awareness to the Middle Region and Defiance community

MIDDLE REGION, St. Maarten - After accepting to host the campaign in their district, the Middle Region and Defiance Community Council were assisted by the Shoot Hoops not Guns Committee and their growing movement of volunteers with handing out flyers promoting the upcoming events.

While handing out flyers, the opportunity was taken to distribute 500 bumper stickers, sponsored by Artistic Drive and SXM Signs, with the message, "Violence is NEVER a Solution. 

Community building activities will commence on the weekends of the 11,12 and 18,19 Sent from my iPhone
Some projects that were executed in other communities were: clean ups, property repairs, painting walls, fences, murals, signs, planting flowers and trees for beautification of playground and properties, creating garbage bins, constructing basketball nets and soccer goals. 
 
All residents are encouraged to come out and participate as we all take a stance and help restore our communities. 
The month will end with a grand celebration highlighted by a 3 on 3 basketball tournament and 3 point competition which will be incorporated with the annual Middle Region's Day on June 26th
 
Businesses or persons who are willing to contribute to continue to make this campaign a success please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit us on Facebook at 

Sea Turtle Research Being Conducted on Sint Maarten, Nature Foundation and Dutch Universities Cooperate to Learn More about Endangered Sint Maarten Sea Turtle Population

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is collaborating with the University of Groningen (NL) and IMARES Wageningen UR (NL) on a Dutch Caribbean sea turtle project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Green and hawksbill turtles are observed feeding in the waters of St. Maarten with both species also nesting on St. Maarten along with the leatherback turtle.

Green and hawksbill turtles are needed for healthy seagrass and coral reef ecosystems, which are highly valuable ecosystems from an economic, cultural and scientific point of view. However, the green turtle and hawksbill turtle are highly endangered species. MelUWCleanup

Many nesting populations have disappeared and others have been reduced to dangerously low numbers because of severe hunting and habitat destruction.

Jurjan van der Zee, a PhD candidate from the University of Groningen, is visiting and joining the Nature Foundation for two weeks to measure, tag and sample green and hawksbill turtles foraging in the waters around St. Maarten.

The samples will be used for isotope and DNA analysis. The isotope analysis will reveal the diet of St. Maarten green and hawksbill turtles, for example which species of seagrass are being eaten by green turtles and which sponges are being eaten by hawksbill turtles.

By studying their DNA, St. Maarten green and hawksbill turtles can be traced back to the area where they were born and show which Caribbean nesting populations, some which may be severely endangered, feed in St. Maarten.

The data coming from St. Maarten will be integrated with similar data from the other Dutch Caribbean islands and will be used to help the conservation of sea turtles.

“This project is a part of our work to conserve and protect these endangered species from extinction, and we hope that with the results we can conduct better management actions to ensure that these very important animals make a successful recovery,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

IMG 4948

CPO’s launch Cops & Kids program

COLE BAY, St. Maarten - “To serve and protect” is a critical component of the mantra of the Police Force that is extended to all citizens.

In an effort to bridge the gap between KPSM and students, under the lead of the Community Police Officers, a program was implemented to minimize misconceptions while cultivating friendships between law enforcement and students.

The presence of the police in the school as a part of the school community indirectly lends to modifying undesirable behavior and opens up valuable lines of communication.

The program offers the CPOs a platform to invest in the students of their respective districts. Key is showing their students a balance between the disciplinary end of the law and the lighter side of law enforcement.

They emphasize to students that their concerns are taken seriously and that their well-being, like that of every other community member, is of utmost importance. Out of this vision, the Cops & Kids program was created.

Cops & Kids, a multi phased program, was hosted by the CPOs, D. Chandler, S. Crispulo, S. Carty and E. Josepha in collaboration with Priscilla S. Bell of the Inspectorate of Education for the Grade 6 students of their schools the Seventh Day Adventist School, The Leonald Connor School and the Sister Regina Primary School.

Because of the down time for Grade 6 students after their FBE Exit Exams, the CPOs used Cops & Kids to supplement the post-exam programs provided by the schools by executing the following activities:

 “One on one”: students submitted questions to the CPOs regarding the tasks of the Police

 “Open House”: students were afforded the opportunity to visit different departments within

Department which were addressed and in a presentation at the different schools. Two (2) former students of the school were also present to give the students insight on their experiences with the transition from elementary school to secondary school.

KPSM, specifically,

o Detective Department— the students received an overview of the process of filing a complaint through to the court case. They participated in solving a mock crime.

o Juvenile and Vice Department— the students received an explanation on the process of the department and how sensitive cases involving children are handled which includes what happens to children who commit crimes and when crimes are committed against children

 “Sports Day”: two of the three schools showed their school spirit as they faced off for

 “The Great Debate”: was held at the Caribbean Cinemas. In teams of five (5), the schools

o Forensic Department— the students received an explanation what they do from arriving at the crime scene and the processing of evidence (fingerprints, DNA, photographing); they also staged a crime scene and students had the opportunity to gather evidence.

o Central Dispatch—the students received an explanation on what they do, identified how the unit is comprised (police and ambulance dispatch), explained how calls are received and dispatched to patrol units.

o The Uniformed Division—the students received an explanation by the Team Leader about his daily tasks and responsibilities (fines, taking calls, making up reports, and rendering assistance to those in needs) and those of the patrol.

o The dog handler—the students received an explanation from one of the dog handlers on what the tasks and responsibilities are, what the dog and his handler’s physical and legal parameters are. They were informed that the dogs are full fledged police officers.

“bragging rights” on whose school was the most athletic.

debated “for” and “against” on the selected topics. These included: 1. Social media 2. Discrimination in schools, 3. The use of cell phones in schools, and 4. Disciplinary measures against kids.

Cops & Kids as an initiative of the Community Police Officers is geared as a collaborative effort to complement the efforts of the schools by providing a platform for students to display their skills and knowledge base that they have garnered over the school year.

We admonish students to come to school ready to learn and improve their skills and knowledge space in both academics and non-academic areas so they can be proud of their hard work at the end of the school year. Our program is one more area that they can be proud of themselves and honor their parents and schools.

When we consider the types of citizens we are grooming and growing, we know that it is going to take the entire village to lend a hand. We can be deterred by the cost now or we can devastate by the cost later, one thing is certain, there will be a cost.

As law enforcement in the school, our role is different; we understand that children cannot be forced into right conduct; we don’t speak down to them and we discourage them from discounting or belittling themselves and others.

We treat them with the same courtesy and respect that we extend to every citizen and resident. We are guardians at the gates of the schools charged with the protection and preservation of our country’s most valuable resources.

If we want to circumvent the types of behavior challenges that are present and evident in the secondary schools, we must initiate long before secondary school.

Cops & Kids will be in effect for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

USM Appoints new Dean of Academics, In continuation to the University strategy for growth, Ms. Genève Phillip joins the USM family

POND ISLAND, St. Maarten - USM The University of St. Martin expands its resources and would like to introduce the Dean of Academics Ms. Genève Phillip.

Dean Philip describes herself as the quintessential Caribbean woman, with the vision and ambition to contribute to the creation of a better region through various mediums of engagement and advocacy.

Genève has attained a BSc in Public Sector Management, Postgraduate Diploma in International Relations and an MSc in Global Studies from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.

She is currently reading for her PhD in International Relations, at The UWI Institute of International Relations, which is scheduled for completion this year.

Dean Phillip has been in academia for the past ten (10) years and has gained a significant degree of exposure for her work, having been invited to present at conferences throughout the Caribbean region, North America and Europe.

Genève worked at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada and the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.  

Her hope is to increase the regional and international visibility of USM by way of her professional memberships in the Caribbean Studies Association, the International Studies Association and the International Small Island Studies Association among others.

She brings to USM, an awareness of and familiarity with the Caribbean region, coupled with a substantial degree of cultural intelligence, which enables her to function in and adapt to any global setting. What she hopes primarily to accomplish at USM, is the fostering of an environment where; students will receive the educational experience in which they are confident in the education systems in our region and are encouraged to stay! Where Faculty feels appreciated and adequately is rewarded for their efforts. And both academic and non-academic staff could see themselves as being collectively responsible for fostering a community of comradery, mutual respect and support.

Free HIV testing in Cole Bay Saturday

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - St. Maarten AIDS Foundation (SAF) is partnering with Divico Cash and Carry to offer free and confidential HIV testing in Cole Bay at the wholesaler’s location at Union Road Cole Bay on Saturday, May 28. Testing is open to the public from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

The foundation and Divico’s partnership will also see the participation of the Government of St. Maarten’s Health bus, French Side AIDS foundation AIDES, American University of the Caribbean AUC, the foundation’s youth wing, Coach Tom and some of his team members and SAF volunteers.

SAF invites everyone, especially persons living and working in the Cole Bay area to take advantage of this testing event. Getting tested regularly and knowing your status is one way of reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community while protecting yourself and loved ones from getting the virus that causes Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Testing involves only a small finger prick and results are available within 15 minutes. Tests are anonymous and linked to the person only by a one-time identifier. Spanish, French and Haitian Creole translators will also be on hand throughout the day.

The foundation urges everyone to make an effort to get tested and reminds the public that Free HIV testing is also available at the AIDS Foundation office in Cole Bay. SAF, with its secretariat in the Sun Building across from Tropicana Casino in Cole Bay, is the only entity offering HIV/STI prevention education outreach and care/treatment support for persons living with HIV/ AIDS on the Dutch side of the island.

While the bulk of the foundation’s funding come from community and corporate donations a major donation generator is the annual Stronger Together/Red Ribbon fundraising campaign carried out in collaboration with Scotiabank.

To make a donation, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or make a direct deposit at Scotiabank account numbers 7223 (US dollars) and 7221 (guilders) in the name of “Stronger Together HIV/AIDS Campaign.”

For HIV counselling and tests, visit the secretariat or call 553-2626. Also visit the foundation’s website: www.sxmaidsfoundation.org for more information about services.

Photo caption:

Some members of our testing team during a recent outreach into Dutch Quarter.

Interval International hosts info-exchange seminar for resort clients in St. Maarten

Miami, FL - Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services, recently hosted an Info-Exchange Seminar at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

More than 75 sales, marketing, and operations personnel from Interval-affiliated resorts received an overview of Interval's products, services, and digital platforms.

Irania Arrindell, St. Maarten's Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication, as well as several St. Maarten Tourist Bureau officials, attended the event to learn about the latest timeshare industry trends.  

Headlining the program, David C. Gilbert, Interval's president, discussed the company's role in shared ownership in the Caribbean and Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association, presented key findings from recent industry studies. Marcel Javois, featured speaker and president of the St. Maarten Timeshare Association, provided an update on the local market and the status of legislative initiatives.
"We were very pleased to host this seminar and bring together industry participants and tourism officials to discuss ways to enhance the shared ownership experience," noted Gilbert. "The Caribbean continues to be an important region for our company. In fact, our latest researchcites it as the preferred international destination for Interval's U.S.-resident members interested in purchasing additional product."
Other presenters included Bryan Ten Broek, senior vice president of resort sales and marketing, who discussed the value of Interval membership to vacation owners and provided an update on the latest features of Interval's Sales Tool Kit app. Soraya Gonzales, assistant vice president of resort assistance, spoke about the support services available to resort partners, and Neil Kolton, director of resort sales and service for the Caribbean and Florida, discussed how developer clients can leverage Interval's programs to drive new revenue streams and cost savings.
To conclude the seminar, Interval hosted a reception at the nearby Oyster Bay Beach Resort's award-winning Infinity Restaurant and Bar to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary.

New Anesthesiologist begins at SMMC

CAYHILL, St. Maarten - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to announce the in service of Anesthesiologist Dr. Andriy Danyltsiv as of May 23rd, 2016.

Areas of disturbance being monitored by Met Office

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Weather watchers are now keeping a close eye onan area of disturbance near the Bahamas off the coast of Florida, which has been showing signs of developing during the past couple of days.

The area of disturbance has a 50% chance of developing into a tropical system.

It should be noted that the 2016 Hurricane Season will start on June 1st.

The voice of St. Maarten news spoke to forecaster Desiree Connor of the Met office on St. Maarten who confirmed that they are watching the area of disturbance.

She also gave us insight into our local weather as far as what to expect for the coming days. More now via PodCast.

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