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.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -
From DRIVING cattle with his father
MISTER LEOPOLD MINGO
To DRIVING the various sous prefet
That take up residence here in MARIGOT
TE WAS SYLVERE MINGO
From trowing rock stones at shaw MANGO
TO THE BEATIN OF CREOLE STARS
DRUMS to the sweet tune of CALIPSO
TE WAS SYLVERE MINGO
SYLVER WAS THAT ST MARTIN BOY
THAT WAS ALWAYS ON THE GO
HE PLAYED THE DRUMS IN LITTLE BAY
HE ENTERTAIN THE TOURIST IN MAHO
AND ALSO IN MULLET BAY
TODAY WE SALUT A LENGENDERY
THAT PLAYED HIS PART IN OUR ST MARTIN
LET THE DRUMS ROLL FOR" SYLVER "
UNTILL WE MEET Him OVER YONDER
Take your rest at jesus feet
Untill that day again we meet
MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PEACE
MY SINCERE CONDOLEANCE TO THE MINGO FAMILY
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The President of Parliament, DP leader Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams, was present at the Courthouse on Friday morning to observe the proceedings in the two cases put for the consideration of the Constitutional Court.
In commenting on the proceedings, the DP leader said “It did me proud to see the Constitutional Court in session, considering that this forms part and parcel of the system of checks and balances created when St. Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom in October 2010.”
Excesses by lawmakers (government and parliament) that go against the constitution are curbed by the existence of the constitutional court.
The institution charged with bringing perceived infringements to the constitutional court is the Ombudsman of St. Maarten, another indispensable part of the checks and balances in our country.
The Ombudsman also hears and assesses complaints by citizens against government and public officials.
All in all, whatever the outcomes of specific cases, the fact that these institutions exist and function should be a comforting thought to all citizens.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Former Minister of Health, now MP de Weever will constantly try to "show up" present VSA Minister Emil Lee.
After last election results were in, Cornelius weaseled his way around town, doing everything in his power to keep Mr. Lee from being the designated DP Representative in Parliament, or from being appointed to a Ministerial post.
This, including him trying to get a family member appointed to Minister, then using feeble excuses to cross the aisle (jumping ship) and finally double crossing party leader Sarah Wescott-Williams ("double" literally, as he did it twice in less than 30 days).
Now he plagiarizes stuff on the Internet to try and make Minister Lee look bad, at the expense of all the Civil Servants in the Public Health Department.
I guess he probably even hoped Emil would rush out to buy an expensive mobile Zika-Virus-carrying-mosquito fumigation vehicle that would have to get here before the upcoming September election, used once and then parked in the grass, just like the US $400,000 mobile health clinic he, de Weever, rushed to order in before the 2014 election, for no other reason than a "photo-op".
Minister Lee, if I were a betting man, my bet would be on you making serious positive strides in our Country's health care during the very short present tenure you have signed up for.
And knowing you, this will not be for cheap photo ops, nor for personal gain, but because, unlike the above mentioned "born-here" former Minister-now-MP, your heart is in the right place when it comes to doing what is in the benefit of the citizens and other residents of St. Maarten.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - "With respect to the statement made by the Minister of Public Health Emil Lee about plagiarism, this alone tells what is important to Minister Lee, playing political games.
First and foremost, I was providing general information to the people of the country about the Ovitraps. I did not have any quotation remarks around the statement but was provided as general information and was quoted wrongly by an editor, but this is not the point. The people's public health is at stake here, and this is the point!
The minister is attempting to pass the buck, duck and dodge, and throw up a sand-screen in the eyes of the people for his lacklustre response to this very serious developing public health situation. The minister was off island attending Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association events again when I inquired about his presence.
"Minister Lee says I am fear mongering for political gain. Once again, this demonstrates that the Minister is not abreast of what is going on regionally and internationally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that up to more than four million people could be infected with the Zika virus in the coming months.
The WHO, not MP De Weever, has described the Zika threat 'one of alarming proportions,' and has therefore convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations on the current epidemic for Monday to ascertain whether this outbreak in the Americas which includes the Caribbean islands which we are a part of, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This was the same response when Ebola presented such a case to the global community of nations.
"I still maintain that the Minister of Public Health should have been proactive which shows a lack of leadership on his part to take command. He has been in the current position for more than two months, and the Pan American Health Organization sent out warnings in December more than six weeks ago and we only now hear the minister making a public statement for the first time.
I do commend the hardworking staff of the Ministry of Public Health for their continued efforts because they were indeed aware of this new mosquito-borne virus from in May 2015, long before the Minister was appointed to this position. The ministry between that time and up to the present has been active in keeping the public informed.
"When I was Minister of Public Health, along with the staff from the ministry, we developed a plan to deal with Chikungunya in late 2013 and throughout the first half of 2014.
During that time we worked closely with our colleagues from French St. Martin. As MP, I will be monitoring closely Governments response with respect to this developing situation and will call out where I see government is not performing in the interests of public health."
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