Island Opinions

Island Opinions (727)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Hey Olivier,

Rumor has it you requested to get WINAIR'S recent financials for "research purposes".

If this is true, I can only deduct that the amount of dead-end walls you walked into in Curacao on your "new-Airline tour" have  turned you into a comedian, or have otherwise negatively affected your brain.

I recommend you check with doctors dealing with head injuries in the NFL. You may be at risk.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Déjà vu we must say. This is nothing new for our people.

After reading about the arrest of MP Silvio Matser and the fact that the budget meeting, one of our most important document that has to be approved by our Parliamentarians was postponed because of a lack of Quorum, the Concordia Political Alliance (CPA) is wondering if our elected officials are serious about the positive advancement of our country or just about their own selfish desires.

Having to postpone the 2016 Budget Meeting when there is a deadline to have our budget approved, we believe is a very irresponsible act.

The CPA would like to know from our Honorable Prime Minister William Marlin and His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday what is next for St. Maarten and its people.

The people need to know that they could rely on the word of these two very powerful positions and leaders of our country as oppose to being lead by rumors that they are confronted with whenever there is a political crisis on our island. Who should we turn to for answers? Where is St. Maarten heading. Like a lady in one of our local newspapers wrote, is St. Maarten truly being governed similar to a banana republic where everyone can do whatever they wishes to do without any consequences.

Can we rely on our justice system to treat our citizens and elected officials in a fair manner? Can we expect that our leaders will be transparent enough to tell us the truth and nothing else but the truth because that is what sets us free, or do we just use words to appease our people to make them believe that we have their best interest at heart when we full well know that we are all about self and big egos which keeps us in bondage.

This Government calling themselves an Open and Transparent Government is that a fallacy. In addition to that, could we rely on our newspapers to truly bring us information that has been properly researched and not mislead our people so that even if our leaders do not bring accurate information at least our newspapers could be a buffer to represent sound information? Sad to say that our people are all confused because of the feedback that we are getting from them whenever we are out on our Weekly Tuesday Neighborhood Visits.

We hear the cries of our people and we keep on telling them that they should not cry but make the difference because they have the power to stop their cries by supporting and ensuring that St. Maarten be represented by persons that has their best interest at heart, especially the best interest of our next generation, our Youth.

Should they inherit a country without integrity and moral values? Is this fair to our children that we all say that we care so much for or is it that we are misleading them as well by making them believe that we really care.

What message are we sending our own local youngsters when we see that immigrants from far away can be appointed in political positions while our own are being neglected and left behind. What kind of leaders from any country will ever put others above their own? According to the CPA, St. Maarten should not have such leaders in power.

St. Maarten you are the judge and jury. You have a secret weapon in your hand called the ballet not the bullet, which can bring about a radical change. Use it to your advantage to make a difference.

The CPA encourages and supports the empowerment and protection of our people and especially of our next generation. What is next for St. Maarten and its people? The answer is: Together we can by being the solution to all the many challenges that we have. St. Maarten will live on!

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) took note of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority’s (SLAC) two page ad in the Daily Herald newspaper on Tuesday March 1st. 

The SMMTA stated: “To be clear: SLAC itself is not the problem; the manner in which the executive team of the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies (Port) manages SLAC is what concerns the SMMTA.

The actions taken by the Port’s executive team, who control not only the Port but also all of its subsidiaries including SLAC, should be of major concern to the Government of St. Maarten and all of our Country’s citizens; after all the Port and its subsidiaries collectively represent some of St. Maarten’s most valuable assets.” 

The SMMTA explained that “in SLAC’s response to the SMMTA they [SLAC – read: Port] used their normal strategy of providing a lot of information that may on the surface seem reasonable, but in reality has little to do with the issue at hand and in most cases is misleading, or plain wrong.  The representatives of the Port also like to use buzz words like ‘truth, transparency and integrity’ while in practice they uphold none of the virtues of what these words actually represent.” 

The SMMTA has always maintained that the Port should not be allowed to directly compete against the private sector as long as they control SLAC, the entity that has been tasked to oversee the Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Lagoon in the broadest sense of the word.  The Port tries to discredit the SMMTA’s position by stating in its response that “SLAC does not operate a marina in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.” 

This indeed is a fact. SLAC does not currently operate a marina in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, but its parent company, the Port, does in fact operate mega yacht slips in Great Bay that do directly compete against marinas in the lagoon; some of which the Port has recently tried to purchase.  The fact that Management of the Port does not consider this as a direct conflict of interest is exactly the problem.

In the opinion of the SMMTA, the Port’s executive team is systematically trying to control the St. Maarten marine sector by leveraging any influence they may have, including collaborating with key government officials to support their agenda.

The SMMTA concluded that “There are many issues that have been misrepresented by the Port in SLAC’s ad in the Daily Herald on March 1st.  The SMMTA will address SLAC’s statements in multiple press releases going forward, as the concerns raised are complex and somewhat difficult to understand and relate to without a bit of history and knowledge of the St. Maarten marine industry.

Each statement by SLAC will be analyzed and commented on, so that the general public has the opportunity to better understand what is really going on with the Port and those who control it. This is no longer an issue that just affects the marine industry. In our opinion, what is happening at the Port is a prime example of how corruption is allowed to breed and flourish within our community.

The executive team of the Port has been allowed to control and operate one of St. Maarten’s most valuable assets with utter immunity during a period of ever-mounting evidence of the Port’s questionable dealings.

The SMMTA as the representative body of the largest group of St. Maarten marine industry stakeholders has therefore officially requested the Council of Ministers to thoroughly investigate the Port and its executive team and to have the results of such an investigation made public in the interest of real transparency”.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a party that believes in and supports the creation of our state institutions, our first reaction to the prospects of a national bank was, "Oh, good, our own".

The DP sees our own state institutions as a deliberate part of nation building, which we believe is an indispensable path to our future development.

In fact, it can be stated here that the aspect of nation building for the Democratic Party following the transition to country in 2010, is Priority # 1. Nation building from our perspective is one of stimulating national unity, a national identity and social cohesion, and in this context there is no place for divisiveness.

However, we are extremely concerned about developments in the regional banking sector, of which we are part and parcel.

We have already in Parliament raised the issue of the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act) and will continue to monitor this.

However, the more ominous issue of the so-called "de-risking" by the correspondent banks of local and regional banks is real and quite unsettling.

In essence, several correspondent banks are refusing business from local and regional banks.

Just imagine the effects of these actions by correspondent banks in the USA and Europe. With our open economy, this could have disastrous effects for every citizen!

CARICOM has mobilized all its forces to address this matter at the highest levels.

In this environment, we believe a national bank should be put on the back burner.

Note as well, that we have to "clean up" some of our acts, to restore confidence in our country. Again, the over-used words of transparency and integrity come to mind, because a lot has to do with the image of our country, real or perceived.

An all-together other matter is the establishment of a national DEVELOPMENT bank. While this is nothing new and there are different ideas for its seed funding, we are yet to come to concrete action in this regard. I advise government to make some serious efforts to break this cycle of inaction, due to differences not on the topic of a development bank, but rather on the approach.

By the way, I think it is as far back as 2012/2013 that the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten proposed draft articles of incorporation for a development bank for St. Maarten.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Showing thankfulness to others has minimally two outcomes. The person being appreciated feels encouraged to keep doing what they're doing. And the person being thankful, increases seeing positive things to be thankful for.

As a parent, being appreciative towards our children, by celebrating their individuality strengthens them, makes them happy and improves their own view of themselves.

Saying to your child that "I am happy to be your parent", "You are so special", "You know you are great at…" builds relationship and When you work for and work with others, showing appreciation to them for the (extra) effort being done by a team member increases the likelihood of there being more triumphs to celebrate together.

The gift of thankfulness is in my opinion, not valued in a proper light. Some think that it takes much to say "thank you", and "you did a great job" in situations that aren’t mandatory.

For instance proper protocol will be followed when a dignitary is in attendance at a function.

The dignitaries in attendance will be welcomed and thanked for their work or support. Being appreciative by holding and speaking of others in high regard (intangible), showing gratitude in gift giving (tangible) are honorable things to do.

However, though honor is a part of being thankful, it shouldn’t just be left for those who are in office.

The gift of thankfulness is best unwrapped and enjoyed daily. We should not let one day go by without grasping how good we have it. And thereby be moved to say "Thank you" to the Divine, and to others we come in contact with.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - After reading the editorial in one of the local newspaper over the weekend regarding the ongoing outstanding to organizers of two of the largest annual events on the island, leaves me with the conclusion that Government can no longer afford to conduct business as usual and at the same time expect different outcomes.

Government as one of the main partners in marketing the country should explore how it can operate outside what has become the norm for these particular events.

As former Minister of Tourism, I initiated an approach aimed at addressing this ongoing issue from a pragmatic perspective. This approach would have ensured that the organizers would not be left in a financial predicament year after year. Considering that government’s subsidy is to fund the marketing promotional activities of these events, my approach was to apply the K.I.S.S. method. This method would ensure that the activities surrounding the events would remain straightforward and measurable.

This approach was also well received from the two organizations as it would not require the cumbersome process of having to supply bureaucratic reporting such as audited financials etc. Rather, this approach would allow Government the opportunity to manage its cash flow and disbursements. In addition, I recommended to the organizers that in the spirit of true and real public private partnership, the funding allocated to the events were to be earmarked to the Tourist Bureau. The Tourist Bureau would be charged with the execution of the organization’s annual marketing plans for the events.

If time had permitted, a committee would have been installed comprising of members of the ministries and/or departments such as Culture, Finance, Tourism, and SCDF and Heineken Regatta Organizers. This committee would be spearheaded by the Minister of Tourism, as the person charged with the responsibility and financial accountability of the portfolio on behalf of the Government and people of St. Maarten.   For the sake of continuity, the committee would have been co-chaired by the Secretary General Ministry as this position in the organization of Government is the one that is consistent (as Ministers come and go). Once established, the committee would meet quarterly to set up and put in motion the marketing plans for the events in advance. The meetings would have taken on the business model approach, which entailed measuring the ongoing progress of the marketing efforts; while adjusting the plans as needed.

I believe that this approach would have addressed the ongoing challenges and establish a more pragmatic oriented solution with measurable processes built in. In other words, the Tourist Bureau’s and our marketing representatives in the US, South America, the Caribbean and Europe would be able to focus on executing the marketing efforts for the events in the various markets. In addition, advertisements for these activities can be featured annually in exclusive publications that cater to the niche markets.

Contrary to what is often publicly spoken, our good professional civil servants at the Tourist Bureau and those who represent us abroad are dedicated and desire support and leadership that would aid them to maximize their abilities in promoting St. Maarten and all that we offer to our visitors. In addition to the events, our marketing efforts can include other aspects of St. Maarten that the visitors can take advantage of during their visit for a given event. This will create opportunity for Government to better monitor spending patterns, control and manage its marketing cash as the funds would be spread over longer periods.

As it is now, Government must issue funds once or twice a year in large amounts. As a result of the tardiness associated with disbursement of the funds earmarked for marketing of the events, its effectiveness seldom materializes and in the end there is little positive return on our marketing investment.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Mrs. Helma Etnel, Chief Financial Officer of Telem Group, lied to the Parliament of St. Maarten when answering questions regarding why the Help Desk of Telem is in Curacao and why it cannot be here.

During the Central Committee meeting 19 on Wednesday February 10th, 2016, the Parliament of Sint Maarten was informed by Mrs. Etnel that there is a help desk in house at Telem for more difficult cases and the reason why the Help Desk is in Curacao, is not because they don’t want to, but because they cannot get anybody locally and that there was no interest during the downsizing.

The truth of the matter is that Telem does not have an internal help desk, and Telem does not want to get anybody locally either. The SMCU can guarantee there are people in St. Maarten willing to do it.

Telem had its own help desk until the management of Telem decided to outsource the department without informing the union until the year 2008. When the union looked into the matter, it was discovered that management had already outsourced the department to the Help Desk to a company in Curacao. The union went to management and informed them that they could not outsource a department without notifying the union.

The Union also asked management as to what would happen to the employees that were already working in St. Maarten. Management’s response was that the department was not bringing in any monies and that during the restructuring; the department was going to be outsourced to make Telem leaner this was in the year 2008 and Telem restructure in the year 2012.

Despite the SMCU’s many efforts to place the 3 employees of that department in another department within Telem and not send them home, management stuck to their decision and still sent them home.

The SMCU together with the 3 former employees took Telem to court and won the case. Management never asked these employees whom Telem had considered redundant to submit a bid for this job, because management had already signed a contract with the company in Curacao, and the 3 former employees salaries were not even close to the amount mention by Mrs. Etnel in the parliament meeting.

Whenever the union questions management about the numerous complains about the Curacao help desk, and why nobody in St. Maarten can get the job. Management’s answer is that the money is not that great of a deal. However, they always refuse to provide the amount paid to the Curacao company because they say that it does not concern the union.

The union is confident that if Telem Management open a bid on St. Maarten that companies will show interest in doing this help desk job.

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

THE WAY I ALWAYS WANT TO REMEMBER
MY SWEET AND LOVING GOD MOTHER

YOU WAS ON A MISSION ON THIS EARTH, TO SHARE
THE LOVE AND JOY WITH THOSE YOU LOVE SO DEA...R

AND TO THAT YOU HAVE GIVING YOUR BEST
SO GOD HAVE CALL YOU HOME NOW TO TAKE A REST
BUT OUR LIFES YOUR PRESENCE HAVE BLESS

AND OUR LIFES ARE FILL WITH YOUR PRESENCE FOREVER
YOUR SMILING FACE YOUR KIND HEART WE WILL FORGET NEVER

WE ARE SADDEN BY YOUR SUDDEN DEPARTURE
BUT YOUR PRESENCE HAVE BLESSED US BEYON MEASURES

WE WOULD WANT YOU TO BE ARROUND WITH US FOR EVER
BUT THE MASTER
WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE
KNOWS WHAT FOR YOU IS BETTER

SO NOW THAT YOU
HAVE DECIDED TO REUNITE
WITH THOSE SO DEAR TO YOU
WE CAN"T HELP BUT BE SADDEN
AS WE SAY ADIEU
BUT WE ARE CONFORTED
IN THE FACT THAT YOUR ARE ABSENT
FROM THIS EARTHLY VESSEL
BUT YOU ARE IN GOD PRESENT
AND WE LIVE WITH THE HOPE

THAT WE ALL WILL BE REUNITED
IN GOD PRESENCE NEVER AGAIN TO BE SEPERATED
SO UNTIL SUCH TIME
WE WILL C0NTINUE RELIVING
THE SWEET MEMORIES OF THE GOOD TIMES
UNTIL WE ALL GET TOGETHER IN HAVEN
AND WHAT A DAY OF REJOYCING THAT WILL BE
SO I SAY GOOD NITE NAIN-NENE
TAKE YOUR SWEET REST
SEE YOU ON THAT GLORIOUS MANNING
WHEN WE ALL GET TOGETHER IN HAVEN
YOUR LOVING GOD SON
RAYMOND HELLIGAR AKA BIG RAY

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Board of the National is happy to see that the UPP leader and Board have awaken from their slumber.

It is good to see that they are once again concerned about the people of St. Maarten. It is just a shame that this concern does not show itself when the UPP party is in the Executive Branch of Government. It is also a shame the way the UPP leader tries to mislead the people of St. Maarten.

The Board has taken note of the arrogance of the UPP Leader as he considers it thwarting the progress of St. Maarten if he is not in power. This present coalition has already made some positive steps in favor of all the people of St. Maarten and not as is customary with the UPP leader that his ëprojectsí only benefit the selected few.

We also understand his fear as he understands that the current direction of this government will open the eyes of the people so that they realize that the role of government is not to serve the few but to serve the masses.

Is the UPP Leader afraid that the people will realize that Government is supposed to be transparent and Government is not meant to be driven by under the table deals that only comes to light when the deal is done and the people of St. Maarten are left holding the bag?

This Government has already exposed the secret deal with the hospital. As it is customary with the UPP leader, the money is ready to be spent but the plans on how this money would be paid back and how the people of St. Maarten would benefit is still unknown. There was no bid, imagine spending 100 Million Dollars which is almost half of our yearly budget without having a bid.

On the subject of the new medical center, how did the UPP intend to repay SZV the 100 Million Dollars? Was the medical tourism wing a gift to some unknown persons? 35 Million Dollars and no plan on how to pay it back. In fact, any responsible government would have negotiated with an investor before making this plan. We see this as another glaring example of a typical UPP deal. Saddling the local people with a huge debt with no plan as to how to pay it back. What is even worse is that these secret deals seem to only benefit the UPP leader and a few of his friends.

The UPP Leader should take note of the process being followed by the DP appointed Minster, the Honorable Minister Emil Lee. The Minister has undertaken a process that is transparent and outlines a clear path on the exact cost, quality and payback options. So there is a way to undertake large projects in a manner that is not hidden from the public. Proper government under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister William Marlin.

The UPP Leader comments on the GEBE situation would be a joke if it wasnít so serious. This Government under the Leadership of PM is in the process of presenting a budget with a surplus. This in spite of the mismanagement of funds by the UPP led Government. Now, the UPP leader wants the public to investigate the funds from the Government owned water Distribution Company.

The board wonders where the UPP leader concern for GEBE was when he was proposing that GEBE take a loan of an estimated 700 Million Guilders. Wouldnít this loan have damaged GEBE or is it so that the UPP leader feels only he is allowed to damage Government owned companies. The board agrees that all government actions in the government owned companies should be scrutinized and we need to start by the Harbor Group of Companies.

In conclusion, it is not becoming of a leader to be playing the victim and seeking pity from the people of St. Maarten when it is not warranted. The constant ëthe Dutch coming to get usí is getting a bit tiring.

If the UPP Leader was to run his government in a transparent manner with less signs of corruption and nepotism, in a way that benefits all the people of St. Maarten, he would not have to worry about the Dutch.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As an aspiring politician, it has come to my understanding that individuals and mini markets in the community has been selling “funto.”

It’s a leafy green substance sold in small sacks similar to weed.  There is even talk that some individuals are brave enough to sell this which could be considered weed.  It seems everybody can come here and open up shop and sell whatever.

Goods to be sold to the public needs to be screened.  Is this substance a public health hazard?

It is my duty as a law abiding citizen to let the people know that this will cause chaos in our youth.  We can’t afford to continue losing one generation after the other.

The corner grocer is becoming a threat to our communities rather than a convenience.  It is so easy for under aged youth to go into a corner grocery and purchase hard liquor. 

Now the corner grocer is selling “funto.” 

I am calling on the Community Police Officers to start investigating this trend.  I call on the Inspectorate of Public Health to investigate this “funto” as it could be a public health hazard being sold to our people.

We need to protect our people.  There will be no peace if there isn’t justice.  We need to have safe communities for our families and we cannot tolerate the sale of this product in our communities which are already suffering from various challenges.

 

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