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Body of missing diver found on Curacao

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - The authorities on Curacao managed to find another body of a diver who went missing on Saturday on the islands Northern coast.

The deceased diver was part of a party of four divers who encountered difficulties on Saturday that led to two divers being classified as missing.

Two made it to safety however two went missing only for the body of one to be found late on Monday.

As we hear in this report from Gonzalo Cuales of Z86 radio in Willemstad, the body of the fourth diver is still being sought.

TelEm Group searching for “mystery” cable repairmen

POND ISLAND, St. Maarten - TelEm Group technicians are on the lookout for “mystery” repairmen who damaged one of the company’s underground telecommunication cables and joined it back together – using duct tape. A second, cable, this one consisting of fiber strands, was also damaged but no repairs were carried out, presumably because of the complicated process involved.

The technicians want to thank the repairmen for recognizing they had caused damage and therefore had to fix it, but they also want to stress how this amateur repair job has caused much aggravation with business and residential customers.

The damage was caused to underground copper and fiber cables in the vicinity of Tropicana Casino in Cole Bay, presumably when workmen were carrying out excavation work close by.

According to Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa, a string of complaints from customers in the area lead to some troubleshooting which eventually led his team to the makeshift repair job.

“The repair to the copper cable allowed customers to have some kind of service, but especially when the weather was bad, the copper lines would act up because they had not been properly joined,” said Mr. Louisa.

He said the Outside plant team responsible for the area were busy doing the correct repairs to the damaged copper cable all weekend and now customers in the area can expect improved connections for their landline and internet services. More extensive repairs on the damaged fiber cable will be carried out within short.

The Technical Director suspects those who may be responsible for the shoddy work, however without any proof he will not commit himself to naming a culprit.

“I would appeal to anyone who damages our underground cables to please inform us so that we can assess the damage ourselves and do the necessary repairs so that we can provide the best service for customers,” said Mr. Louisa.

“At least we have to thank the repairman or men for trying to repair their own damage and not just leaving it, but in future we would much appreciate it if they leave the repairs to our own technicians after first reporting the damage to us,” said Mr. Louisa.

Minister of Tourism Arrindell attends Caribbean Travel Marketplace

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister Hon. Ingrid Arrindell of the Ministry Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), attended the Caribbean’s largest and most important marketing event, Caribbean Travel Marketplace, that was held from January 21-23 on Atlantis Paradise Island, The Bahamas.

Minister Arrindell met with various delegates from the travel industry and also completed a number of very important initiatives linked to the country’s “Save the Summer Program.”  This initiative will ensure an increase in tourism summer bookings and improve visitor air-arrivals during the most challenging period of the year for the country’s tourism-oriented economy.

The Minister of Tourism met with representatives of the world’s largest travel sites that enable travelers to plan their vacations to the Caribbean and around the world including destination Sint Maarten, such as Expedia and TripAdvisor.

There were additional discussions with RCI and Sun Wing Airlines among other partners that contribute significantly to the country’s tourism product.

The aforementioned travel marketplace falls under the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).  It brings together tourism suppliers and gives them the opportunity to meet face-to-face with wholesalers from around the world selling Caribbean vacation travel over the course of two days of business meetings.

“I look forward to working closely with all members of the tourism industry on Sint Maarten in order to promote more participation at future events.  As a tourism dominated economy, we need to have everybody onboard as the promotion of the destination requires input from all segments of the industry to make our product continue to standout and be successful,” Minister of Tourism Ingrid Arrindell said on Sunday.

The event attracts annually representatives from 29+ Caribbean countries; over 250 suppliers; over 100 buyers; over 1000 delegates and more than 11,000 pre-scheduled business potential appointments.

The conference was well attended by Government Ministers of Tourism and other delegates, which allowed Minister Arrindell the opportunity to meet with counterparts from across the region and exchange ideas as well discuss challenges and other Caribbean oriented issues.

During the two-day event, there were a number of sessions including, Weddings and Honeymoons: How can you maximize revenue from romance.

The Caribbean is considered the romance capital of the world. Destination weddings and honeymoons is a lucrative business where three million weddings take place in the United States of America every year, of which 25 per cent of them are destination weddings.

The Caribbean is the number one honeymoon destination.  Delegates during the conference learnt how to capture more of this market through better planning, sales and management.

Other sessions for delegates dealt with: Cutting through the channel clutter: effective channel management; Website Reality Check; Real World Results with Digital Audience Targeting; Who Are You Online? Online Reputation Management and Monetization; Content, Marketing & Metrics.

The CHTA first began in 1959 and is currently headquartered in Miami, Florida.  It was established to facilitate the full potential of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving member needs and building partnerships in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.  The CHTA represents hotels, airlines, and travel wholesalers.

Minister Arrindell was accompanied by Marla Chemont from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

Leonard, Meyers, Marlin-Romeo request urgent Parliament meeting about police insurance

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - United People’s (UP) party Members of Parliament Tamara Leonard and Franklin Meyers along with independent MP Leona Marlin-Romeo have requested an urgent Central Committee meeting on insurance coverage for police officers and their families, the regulation of officers’ positions and security measures for the country.

Meeting initiator MP Leonard said the National Alliance-led Government needs to give a progress report on the steps taken to give insurance coverage for police officers and their families.

Leonard said, “Police officers, love them or not, are our first line of defence in troubled times and they help keep the peace in the quiet time. As a country, we must take care of our front liners, our men and women in blue and look out for their families. Officers put their lives on the line every day and they must be looked after by Government.”

Finance Minister/acting Justice Minister Richard Gibson has to explain to Parliament the progress made to date to better the positions of police officers, said Leonard.

“The biggest issue is the insurance. The police are the responsibility of the Justice Minister and though their payments are looked after via Personnel Affairs, it is ultimately the job of the Justice Minister to take care of our officers,” she said

The MPs hope the issues affecting the Police will be addressed soon in Parliament.

Road works planned for Sucker Garden road and Arch road on Sunday

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that road works will be carried out on Sucker Garden road and Arch road on Sunday, January 24.

These works will be carried out between 7.00am and midday.

United Telecommunications Services (UTS) and a contracted entity will be digging several check holes, which are small trenches sized at approximately 1m X 1m, to verify the depth of existing network cables in order for future placement of UTS cables, as well as locate the road crossing at the intersection of Arch Road and Sucker Garden Road.  

Though there will be no road closure, motorists should be mindful of possible traffic delay and diversion.

Motorists must pay attention to signage indicating that work is underway, and therefore should reduce speed and drive with caution due to the workmen and heavy equipment that will be in the area.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

CBS: St Eustatius has highest income level in the Caribbean Netherlands

BES Islands - With 26.3 thousand US dollars per household, the highest disposable income in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2013 was recorded on St Eustatius.

Compared to 2012, the median disposable income on Bonaire rose marginally in 2013, but households on St Eustatius and Saba saw their incomes decline. Incomes fell most dramatically on St Eustatius.

Annually, households on Bonaire had 22.9 thousand dollars to spend and the median income on Saba was 23.4 thousand dollars as data provided by Statistics. CBS has surveyed the median disposable income in the Caribbean Netherlands for 2013.

Largest income inequality on St Eustatius

Income inequality is most obvious on St Eustatius. If the 25 percent of highest household incomes are added up, the sum is more than 11 times as high as the sum of the 25 percent of lowest incomes, versus just over 9.5 times on Bonaire and more than 8 times on Saba, where income differences are less distinct.

graph 2

40 to 60-year-olds on St Eustatius have highest incomes
On each of the three islands, the main breadwinner in the highest income households is aged somewhere between 40 and 60. People in this age category have more work experience than their younger colleagues and usually occupy better jobs and earn higher wages. With 32 thousand dollars, people in this category living on St Eustatius have the highest median income. On Bonaire and Saba, the median incomes in this category were 26.9 thousand and 27 thousand dollars respectively.

Highest incomes over-60s on Bonaire and Saba
If the household’s main breadwinner reaches retirement age, their incomes are usually reduced and they need to rely on old age and supplementary pension schemes. The fall in income is most substantial on St Eustatius. With 17.1 thousand dollars, the median income level is evidently lower than on Bonaire and Saba, where over-60s can rely on 21.7 thousand and 20.9 thousand dollars respectively.


Data referring to 2013 are provisional, because the source data are incomplete. Missing data are adjusted on the basis information from 2012. Next year, the status of the figures will shift from provisional to permanent.

Median income provides better indication when income distribution is skewed
The three special municipalities of the Netherlands in the Caribbean Sea suffer from a skewed income distribution. Many incomes cluster at a relatively low level and high incomes are fairly rare. Yet, these high incomes have a disproportionally upward effect on the average amount. As a result, the average amount is higher than the amounts belonging to the most commonly found relatively low incomes. The general picture is distorted. In order to provide more reliable data, i.e. more consistent with the bulk of relatively low incomes, CBS has opted for the median of the income distribution. If all incomes are arranged in ascending order, the median disposable income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having incomes above that amount and half having incomes below that amount. This means that precisely half of the population have a lower or equal income and half have a higher income. The median income is lower than the average income.


Disposable income

Disposable income is defined as income from labour, running one’s own business, personal capital, benefits and received transfers minus paid income transfers, contributions paid by employers, health care contributions and tax on income and personal capital. (The exchange rate over all months in 2013 is = 0.75 euros).

Median income


Inflation in the Caribbean Netherlands is measured as the increase of the consumer price index (CPI) on the same period of the previous year. The consumer price index shows the price changes in a package of goods and services purchased on average by households in the Caribbean Netherlands. Inflation leads to devaluation, which means that people can buy less for the same amount of money.

Simpson Bay Bridge fully Operational after Truck Accident

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Simpson Bay Bridge remains fully operational after an accident involving a white truck that took place during a special bridge opening at 6.00am on Sunday morning, January 10, the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority, a company of Port St. Maarten Group of Companies said on Sunday.

The white truck heading in the direction of Cole Bay from Simpson Bay Village, drove through the red stop light and boom while the bridge deck was opening.  Half of the truck ended up hanging over the end of the deck.

It was removed by authorities and bridge operations continued as normal early Sunday morning. 

The boom was replaced with a new one and after a preliminary inspection for further damages, the all clear was given and bridge operations continued.  Additional evaluation will take place.

The accident is under police investigation. 

The bridge opening at 6.00am was to allow a fishing boat to depart the Lagoon on a fishing expedition.

The removal of the truck took a few minutes and the fishing boat left at 7.00am.

Make 2016 New Year’s Resolutions to Fight Obesity and Diabetes

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Obesity and diabetes are affecting the people of the Americas at high and increasing rates. 


According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), national surveys demonstrates that obesity is increasing in prevalence among all age groups; seven to 12 of children under five years old and one-fifth of adolescents are obese, while rates of overweight and obesity among adults approach 60 per cent.


Obesity is a major modifiable risk factor for diabetes.  The estimated number of people with diabetes in the Americas is expected to increase by 45 per cent from 62.8 million in 2010 to 91.1 million by 2030.


Diabetes and obesity are no longer ‘diseases of affluence,’ and disproportionately affect the poor and the less educated of the Region.  

The obesity epidemic, which is linked to the rise in diabetes, is largely driven by the twin trends of changing dietary patterns and decreasing physical activity.

Most countries in the Americas are experiencing a shift in dietary patterns toward increased consumption of energy-dense foods, rich in saturated fat, sugars, and salt.

This pattern, coupled with the fact that 30 to 60% of the population does not meet minimum recommended levels of physical activity (e.g., 30 minutes walking per day) contribute in large part to the high rates of overweight persons and obesity in the Region.

Adults are considered overweight if they have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 kg/m2 and 29.9 Kg/m2 and considered obese if their BMI is above 30 Kg/m2.

Research has demonstrated a strong and consistent link between obesity and diabetes; increases in BMI are associated with increased risk for diabetes and abdominal obesity has emerged as a strong predictor of diabetes.

Environmental changes are the major contributors to the aforementioned changes in diet and physical activity patterns.

A combination of government policies, regional and global market forces, inadequate response to changing demographic patterns, technological advances that precipitate behavior and lifestyle changes, and lack of awareness and action by civil society are key factors leading to the rising epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

However, the strong social and environmental determinants of obesity and ill health provide an important area for intervention with strong evidence-based data to guide action.

The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is urging the populace to take note of the aforementioned information and as 2016 approaches, strive to take increment steps towards a healthy lifestyle exercise regularly, eat healthy, minimize your salt and sugar intake, drink water, rest, consult your general practitioner and monitor the physical and biological changes. 

For more information about diabetes and obesity, consult your general practitioner or contact the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten.

WIB’s BSure Home Insurance campaign winner

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - WIB congratulated Ms. Carmen Berkel as their 2015 BSure Home Insurance winner.

BSure Home Insurance campaign was launched in September 2015 through December 22, 2015.

Clients that registered for BSure Home Insurance were automatically entered into the campaign, where a Visa Money Card valued at $ 500 dollars to be presented to the lucky winner that applied for BSure Home Insurance.

BSure Home Insurance offers content and personal liability free of charge. The perfect mix of service and quality while allowing one to make monthly or yearly payments.

BSure also offers other Insurance services such; vehicle, Home, Content and Travel. Visit your WIB preferred branch or go to to get more details. In 2016 get familiar with BSure.

On behalf of Management and Staff, best wishes for the New Year from your partner in progress.

Port St. Maarten to strengthen internal processes in 2016 and beyond with Enterprise Risk Management Strategy

PHILIPSBURG, St. MaartenChief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo recently signed an agreement with Ernst & Young Advisory Services, to perform an Enterprise Risk Assessment (ERA), which will prepare the harbor group of companies for 2016 and beyond.

ERA is the process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the activities of an organization in order to minimize the effects of risk on an organization’s capital and earnings.

Enterprise risk management expands the process to include not just risks associated with accidental losses, but also financial, strategic, operational, and other risks.

“Port St. Maarten harbor group of companies is government owned, and the board of directors as well as management, have a responsibility to the shareholder to ensure that the harbor group operates according to its statutory regulations, but at the same time making sure the board and management decisions allows the companies to operate optimally and productively with the least amount of risks.

“External factors influence the operations of a company, and one must be on the ball when it comes to risks management.  Besides the shareholder, the board of directors and management have to also answer to bond holders and other financiers such as banking institutions who are strategic partners in the growth of any organization. 

“It is normal for the shareholder and other entities wanting to scrutinize companies’ risk-management policies and procedures. The ERA comes out of our annual operational audits which we instituted a few years ago, and in particular from our operational audit actions from November 2014. One has to be answerable on the adequacy of risk-management processes in the organization.  We have to strike a balance between enhancing profits and managing risks.

“The ERA will allow us to chart our future in 2016 and beyond based on data, and information that identifies risks.  The assessment is a management tool to guide our strategic planning which is in line with good corporate and integrity governance,” CEO Mark Mingo pointed out.

The agreement with Ernst & Young Advisory Services outlines two main phases, identify and diagnose.  The first phase will look at defining roles and responsibilities; meetings with key stakeholders; development of a work plan; and collecting initial set of company data.

The Diagnose phase will identify and understand the harbor group of companies’ key business risks and develop an appropriate risk assessment criteria for use in assessing and prioritizing these key business risks.

CEO Mingo concluded that the benefactors after the assessment will be the shareholder and the 79 employees who represent 13 companies’ of the harbor group, who are responsible for approximately one third of the gross national product of the country.

“The Enterprise Risk Assessment report will summarize risks and mitigation strategies.  This is very essential in going forward in 2016 and beyond.  It will be a guide to our future strategic planning, implementation and investment strategies. 

“As CEO, I do not run the harbor group of companies based on social media comments, but on facts from our international partners and customers.  Country St. Maarten is in a sea of competitors, many of them who are sharks, and we need to be prepared as we have always been in order to continue to remain the number 1 port in the region,” Port St. Maarten CEO Mark Mingo added.

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