Island Opinions

Island Opinions (734)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - I read with interest statements from UP Party MP Franklin Meyers that St. Maarten’s citizens have not benefited from the political changes since 10-10-10 and this statement raised my eyebrows.

The people did not benefit because every proposal that was submitted by the OSPP to help the people-- make them business owners in their country, help them become home owners, put our young people to work, etc. got ignored or thrown out by the various governments and MP’s that have ran the country for the past six years.

MP Meyers have been part of these governments so I cannot understand why now it is a shock for him to discover that the people have not benefited and realize that it’s time to treat this as serious business.

Where has the MP been that he did not notice during the time he has been a member of Parliament that the people are not better off? Where have all these elected officials who are again making promises been over the past parliamentary year while the people of St. Maarten have been crying out for help?

It is of course commendable that MP Meyers have realized that this behavior cannot continue although his reasoning for arriving at that conclusion seems as self-serving. The MP is apparently worried that if Parliament continues with this business as usual mentality he and other elected officials may become targets.

Note: The MP did not say we should do more to help the people or get serious about the people’s business because that is what they have entrusted us to do. The MP said MP’s run the risks of becoming targets apparently because of the level of public dissatisfaction so now because of this he proposes taking the people business seriously.

As far back as 2013 I wrote to the then Chair of Parliament Gracita Arrindell proposing the introduction of a loan guarantee fund that would in essence negate the problem of our young people being unable to start a business to help themselves because they can’t get a bank loan because of a lack of collateral.

As the name suggests the government would basically act the guarantor under that program for an aspiring entrepreneur who can’t fulfil his dream not because of a lack of knowledge but because he can’t guarantee that loan.

The proposal was not even discussed in Parliament let alone implemented. So how serious are these people about helping our people? And how can the people not be frustrated and disillusioned? They have every reason to be.

On February 10 2015 I wrote to President of Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson noting that there has been a lot of talk about unemployment amongst our young people and that as a nation we should all be concerned especially with many of our young people getting involved in crime. In that letter the OSPP proposed to establish the van Hugh Law to be named after our former Minister of Social Welfare Health and Labor, van Hugh Cornelius de Weever and adapted from the Lei di Bion.

My letter went as far as to explain that “This law as it is written will exempt the employer from paying part of the payroll taxes if he employs a young person between the ages of 18-30 years. There are many other conditions attached to this law for the employer and the employee. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel . This law can be amended to fit our needs here in St. Maarten to put our young people to work.”

Nothing was done about this, the proposal never even made it to the floor of Parliament. So how serious can these elected officials be about offering representation to the people of St. Maarten? On February 28th 2016 I wrote again to Parliament, this time with MP Sarah Wescott-Williams as the chair of Parliament, suggesting proposals to bring relief to the people.

In those motions we addressed issues such as the establishment of a general pension plan for all workers; the establishing of a local sports lottery to generate funds to develop sports (this would make it possible for teams and individuals representing St. Maarten in a sporting activity to receive the much needed financial assistance); putting an end to taxing old age pensions.

None of these were even considered as solutions because it’s a “them against us” situation: My party didn’t propose it so I am not going to support it. How long can we continue with this attitude? People need to realize that they are running a country and their decisions impact for the better or worse the lives of all who live here. Our MP’s need to stop play acting at being MP’s and actually do the job they were elected to do.

Lenny F. Priest

Leader of the OSPP

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -

Subject: Violation ofthe Articles of incorporation of Telem Group companies

Your Excellency, By the resolution dated August 24, 2016 which was hand delivered to your person we have drawn your attention to the fact that during the last five years serious violations have been taking place with regards to the proper compliance of the Articles of Incorporation of various companies belonging to the Telem Group. ·In this letter we are including a legal opinion by the lawyer and former notary Elco Rosario, a well-known and respected expert on our corporate laws who concluded that a serious investigation into the neglect by not only the legal representatives of said company but also the members ofthe Board of Supervisory Directors whose task it is to represent and protect the interest of the ultimate beneficiaries of these companies, namely the people of Sint Maarten.

While referring to said opinion of Mr. Rosario, a copy of which is hereby attached, we would also like to quote the following paragraph from said opinion: "In case the Shareholder of Holding indeed decides to initiate a profound investigation into said possibly prolonged illegal situation at the Board of Holding it might also be a good thing to do for said Shareholder (Country Sint Maarten) to find out the reason why its Supervisory Board has been permitting said illegal situation to drag on for such a long time and thereby apparently serious neglecting its important task implied in its name."

We have addressed our mentioned resolution to you, Excellency, in your capacity of Prime Minister and as such the legal representative and spokesperson of the people of Sint Maarten and therefore have taken Mr. Rosario's conclusion and directed it to you in the form of a formal request to you in mentioned capacity, obviously expecting from you, considering the vital importance of this issue, to immediately take the initiative to embark on the "profound investigation" into said referred to "serious violations". P. 0. Box 217 Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles To our surprise, however we noticed in your reaction that you decide to categorically ignore our request and instead publicly accused us of involving with politicizing the issue we have addressed you about.

As said issue is of great importance for the people of Sint Maarten we hereby would like to reiterate our request to you to embark on a thorough investigation regarding the alleged serious violation ofthe Articles of Incorporation of various companies belonging to the Telem Group. Hoping that, now you are dealing with the "political" issue of procedures regarding the appointment of the Directors of the Telem Group (which we are reading about in the local media),we hope that now we can also receive your reaction to the very grave and as important legal issue ofthe alleged mismanagement of the management structure of said Group as we have pointed that out to you.


The SMCU (President) Ludson Evers

Sherman Serastis President General Secretary

5226921 5223200

Cc: Council of Ministers

Parliament of St Maarten


Corporate governance counsel

Board of directors

National detective P. 0. Box 217 Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - It is ironic that MP de Weever, who had just finished his own parliamentary year-end presentation with a call for unity, could not allow the Chairlady of Parliament (DP faction) to make her year-end presentation uninterrupted.

It should however surprise no-one. This has been the "style" of this MP from day one, disrespectful and rude, especially towards the female chairperson of Parliament.

Is it really that MP de Weever does not know better? Hard to imagine for someone who had just moments before his interruption of the Chair  boasted of his accomplishments as an MP.

Even the most unaccomplished MP must know that the closing of Parliament is not a regular public meeting of Parliament.
Do only faction leaders speak in a public meeting of Parliament? NO

Do members of parliament speak without a speakers' list in a regular meeting of Parliament? NO

A regular meeting of Parliament is furthermore conducted in 2 rounds. Neither is this the first closing of Parliament for MP de Weever.

But what the same MP also knows is that is takes  much more than an interruption by him to detract the Chairlady or make her lose her composure.

Democratic Party of St. Maarten
(The Original and Only)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear Editor,

Please allow me to express my concerns and questions to the people of St. Maarten.

As a new comer to this political arena, there are many hurdles and challenges we have had to face and we remain positive being one of our core guiding principles. On our campaign trails we have been confronted with the hottest topic and concern for the island namely, the Pearl of China investment project. As a concerned citizen, aspiring representative of parliament and a future leader I share and empatize with the people of St. Maarten.

The questions and queries that continuosly rise up from the annoucement of the Pearl of China Project, I interprete as the voice and the justified concerns and reactions of our citizens in St. Maarten, that’s what’s on my mind. So our people again are feeling ignored, not included and disenfranchised. A project of this magnitude will have effects on our citizens and it is our governments responsibility to be open and transparent about this big investment project.

As a leader of a political party who hopes to represent the people of St. Maarten in parliament, I think it is fair to ask the following question: Where is Parliament in this investment Project? Why are the people of St. Maarten left to there own defences when we have elected representatives that should be doing this for us? These are just some of the questions that arise in me. I have been searching for answers as I too was curious, not saying that all are correct but would like enlighten you all to my findings.

Q:             What is the main function of parliament?

A:              According to Article 44: Parliament represents the entire population of St. Maarten.

Let’s take it a step further which brings me to my next question.

Q:             What is the right of Parliament?

A:              According to Article 62: Every Member of Parliament has the right to put questions to ministers. The ministers shall answer such questions within a reasonable term, to the extent that the answering thereof cannot be deemed to conflict with the interests of the Country or of the Kingdom.

Article 63 :

1. The ministers shall have the right to attend meetings and may take part in the deliberations.

2. The may be invited by Parliament to be present at meetings in order to provide the required information, to the extent that providing this cannot be deemed to conflict with the interests of the Country or of the Kingdom.

3. They may be assisted at the meetings by persons nominated by them for that purpose.

Article 64: Parliament has a right of inquiry, to be regulated by national ordinance

This project was announced at a town hall meeting on Setember 1st 2016, by our current finance Minister Mr. Richard Gibson. It’s been all over social media, objections have been filed, NGO’s and different interest groups have also made their concerns known, petitions are being started, our local media is bringing us the news and yet there is nothing heard from Parliament with regards to this.

Is this the norm on how our Parliament represents our people’s concerns? Well according to the law it is clearly stipulated how that should happen right? I ask myself then why is Parliament not playing their vital role in all this? WHY ARE THEY NOT FUNCTIONING?

Should all the concerns of the people and citizens of this country go answered and we welcome these delegates from China on September 17th with local and international media coverage for a world stage do we think that we are doing right for our country and our people? I honestly don’t think so. I think it all goes right back again to the RULE OF LAW. If we continue to ignore our rules and regulations that have been put there for our represetatives to follow it will be to the detriment of our people.

The citizens and the people of our Sweet St. Maarten should be at the forefront each and everytime when it comes to the development of this country. The 5 P’s (proper planning prevents poor presentation)is just an example on how we can help our people excel.

That being said and thinking about diversivication and development of our Tourism product ofcoarse it is good to bring tourists to our island. We have to also ensure that what we do is done on a responsible methodical and sustainable manner to try to avoid bigger problems in the near future. We need to do our HOMEWORK, our environment is one of our main reasons that people visit our shores and we have to protect it to ensure that we have a beautiful island that people would like to visit. We do this by talking to all the NGO’s with regards to environment and listening and taking their advise and expertise into serious account before saying yes to such big investment projects.

A sustainable and stable foundation government is also another thing that comes to my mind. How can we manage a project of this magnitude and bring it to fruition if we cannot even stay together for 4 consecutive years? We need continuity in good governance care for our people first! We need more political maturity, dedicated work ethic, a code of conduct that we all adhere to, respect on all fronts and professionalism to be able to deliver such a project. This project should benefit the people of ST. Maarten first and foremost and have back up plans in the event of natural disasters for our people and their families all these details need to worked out on this investment project for our island.

More concerns and questions I have according to the law we have our ministers that are screened and go through different procedures before the are allowed to represent us. Should we as a developing country not screen and do background checks on potential mega investors aswell as a self protection and preservation? As private citizens sometimes reference letters are asked when we go for another form of employment should we do the same for forreign investors?

More and more questions come to my mind. Can any government from the world just make substantial investments or partnerships in our country? Are we not a country within the kingdom? Where are the protocals,policies and legislations that protect our people first? Is holland not in charge of Forreign Affairs according to the Kingdom Charter? What does this mean or translate for a country within the kingdom? What kind of reprocutions can this have for St. Maarten and our people? Are we as a government be held liable if their investments fail? Who’ gonna clean up the messif natural disasters hit and how much time to they get, I can go on and on and on. We have to learn from our mistakes and try to do better for our future generations I believe.

Are we selling out ourselves for the highest bidder? Can these investors not assist us with priority projects that our developing country really really need urgently??? Should we not put the country’s interest and that of our people as first priority??Perfect examples of priorities are just to name a few;

  • Waste to energyplant, reducing our dumpsite and landfill to prevent hazardous influence on our people and visiting tourists this investment will also create jobs.
  • A hospital that can provide proper medical care and keep us in tune with the newest technologies and at the same time diversify through medical tourism this also will create jobs
  • Argriculture and hydropronics systems stations, this will also create jobs
  • Professional sports facilities where we could attract a sports tourism this will also create jobs

These are just some of the concerns of HOPE with regards to this Pearl of ChinaProject urgency. If these investors have the best interest for our country they will help us to reap the benefits for all partners and stake holders involved for a sustainable development of our country and their investment.

For now, we are asking the sitting parliament members of Sint Maarten to dig into this matter and to address these questions and concerns to the responsible ministers. We are begging at the same time the responsible ministers to give honest answers on these questions and to go back to the starting point of this whole project and address these concerns of this project properly putting the people first and not forgetting to, adhere to the Good Governance principles. We, the people of Sint Maarten, deserve proper representation on all fronts. Please do your JOBS!

I would people to know that I love my island very much and I value it because it is my home, its where I share my life with the the people of my communityand it’s where MY heart is. St. Maarten is precious let take care of her together.

“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore, if you want one you must dive for it” Cinesese Proverb.

Give St. Maarten Hope.

On behalf of

Mercedes “Elektra” van der Waals-Wyatt

Political Leader of HOPE and our HOPE Team.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The rate of change in the world today conceivably has never been faster.  Many of the old systems applied to growth and development are rapidly changing into new forms too different to be fully understood.

The old pattern of a few countries mining the rest of the world for raw materials and reseeding just enough with goods and services to successfully repeat the cycle has been replaced by something else.  

Global growth and development are no longer almost solely reliant upon the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and one or two other global financial institutions; it now includes significant support from developing countries that once were the countries being mined as a raw material resource.

China is perhaps the indisputable leader of this new growth and development group.  

According to the Inter-American Dialogue, a non-profit group based in Washington, D C, Chinese banks sent nearly $30 billion in loans to Latin American and the Caribbean last year, more than double the amount from 2014. It's also more money than the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank gave to the region last year combined.

Equally significant, the Inter-American Dialogue also points out, Chinese and IFI/Western banks do not overlap significantly in Latin America [and the Caribbean]. They give different size loans to different sectors in different countries. Chinese loans tend to focus on infrastructure and heavy industry, for example, while Western loans cover a range of government, social, and environmental projects. Chinese banks channel 87 percent of their loans into the energy, mining, infrastructure, transportation, and housing (EMITH) sectors. Only 29 percent of IDB loans and 34 percent of World Bank loans go to EMITH sectors, while more than a third is directed toward health, social, and environment sectors. Chinese banks have indicated that they prefer EMITH loans because they directly support economic growth.

These are immense winds of change and they are blowing ever stronger all over the globe and significantly so in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Even now, millions of dollars in Chinese investments are being plowed into the island of Antigua and out of this will come world class hotels and other tourism developments affecting the entire region.  This is in direct competition to St. Maarten’s tourism market, which makes up 80% of the revenues the country generates.  Make no mistake; the Global marketplace is a highly competitive arena and it is relentless in its search for places to grow and develop.  

Today, Sint Maarten finds itself in the enviable position of being such a place.  The Chinese want to heavily invest in the country.  "China Pearl of the Caribbean Project at Belair Beach St.Maarten"...St.Maarten is already considered one of the best destinations in the Caribbean and its face is Tourism...don't cover its face with a towel...

I say, go for it!

On Wednesday, September 07, Prime Minister William Marlin made a calm, clear presentation to various members of the press when he addressed the media at the Council of Minster's press briefing about the negotiations with a Chinese group to construct the Pearl of the Caribbean Resort on St. Maarten.   He took special pains to dispel the misinformation, misunderstanding and fear that some people seemed to possess that their island and their way of life was being taken over by foreign invaders.  It is reasonable that there are those who feel varying degrees of unease about the Resort contract and this is almost certainly based not on what they know, but what they don’t know; thus the close questioning and the Prime Minister’s need to address all question forthrightly.  This he did!

In matters such as these transparency is vital and critical to the success of the project.  It is to be expected that this course of action will continue to be taken by the Prime Minister and his Government as negotiations continue and the project commences.  Nevertheless, the most productive course of action is for St. Maarten is to proceed with the Chinese partnership and then go even further by using this project to seek out even greater partnerships.  

Rather than hesitate in doubt and fear St. Maarten should enthusiastically and fully take on the responsibilities for its growth and development.  It should dispel the fear of growing up and becoming fully matured; making its own way in the world.  As “fear-provoking” as it may be, we all have to grow up and take on the responsibilities of becoming mature individuals, ready to support and build our organizations so that we can create healthy communities and a great country – top down and bottom up.                    I see talks of independence for St.Maarten the first step is to move towards financial independence increase your GDP.  

When presented with such opportunities one has to be ready to capitalize on them.  Of course, there is always the need to proceed wisely in these matters, but nonetheless in a world faced with new and ever expanding challenges, when great opportunities present themselves, one has got to take full advantage of them.

It is no longer viable to look to the Netherlands for funding; indeed, such subsistence and the growing debt it incurs never are the way to go.  The Netherlands is a relatively small country with challenges of its own and with diminishing revenues earmarked for countries like St. Maarten; even though St. Maarten is a Constituent Country of the Netherlands.  It should be of no surprise then that the Netherlands is actively supporting a restructuring of its financial relationships to St. Maarten; encouraging the implementation of systems that promote St. Maarten’s self-sufficiency.

No country wants to be in the unenviable position of having insufficient funds to pay for all the goods and services it needs, having difficulty in its prospects of obtaining those funds and not attracting enough investors.

By now you as individuals may have come to the realization that you are St Maarten and St Maarten is you!  And that as you go, so will St. Maarten!

There is no turning back.  You cannot afford to and it will not be possible to do so.  You now must forge on to build and create a St. Maarten that never existed before.  It can be done!  

All of St. Maarten has to become involved and create the energy that will produce the power for and of this greater vision.  You cannot follow failed governmental policies, yours and those of others, and hope to succeed.  The ways in which you educate, train and support the citizens and residents of St Maarten have to evolve to higher standards with much more effective outcomes.   This is the only way to build stronger, more sustainable and productive organizations and thus a better St Maarten.

As your Finance Minister recently pointed out: “Our budget every year is under stress and there is no fiscal space to take the necessary steps to combat unemployment, crime, or fix our infrastructural needs, such as weaning ourselves off of fossil fuel imports, food imports, solve our traffic problems, our communication deficiencies, electrical outages, and I can go on and on.  What we need are foreign investments to boost our GDP.  In the Caribbean we are at the lowest in attracting foreign investments.  In fact for years we have not been able to attract any major investment until now.”  

You are already behind in the investment market, but you can close ground quite quickly because you have tremendous assets that you have yet to fully reveal to the global marketplace.  

Again, as the Finance Minister went on to explain: “We now have a breakthrough in attracting a foreign investment that is a behemoth of an investment and a structure and plan to generate travel to Sint Maarten from the entire Caribbean and Latin America for years to come.  Besides this, [we will] also benefit from travel [to Sint Maarten from China].  The economic benefits this will produce for Sint Maarten and its people are immense”.

The key to successful investment is wise negotiation.  The leaders of St. Maarten must take into consideration global, regional and local strategies from both perspectives (St. Maarten’s and the investor) to make sure short term and long term goals are met.  There are diverse arrays of secondary projects and programs that can be generated from Chinese investments in the country.  These can directly benefit local markets by producing jobs via goods and services.

The leaders have to reassess their assets (local markets) to see which are undervalued, unrecognized and misunderstood.  For example, the entire system of culture, commerce and community is not as effective as it could be and as a result culturally based economics, including cultural tourism and the capacity for local commerce are highly undervalued.  In addition whether St. Maarten is publicizing and marketing itself well enough in the global marketplace has to be examined.

It is pointless to spend vast sums of money and provide resources to create old development models of yesteryear.  The models of today for economies on the scale of St. Maarten should increasingly be based on people and technology.  This will require nationwide education and training; a transformation not only from the top down but also from the bottom up.  

St. Maarten has to be unafraid, confident and highly ambitious.  To quote the Finance for the final time: “[The Chinese investment] is a cause for celebration . . . I can continue with debunking the negative comments, but no can deny the fact that the economic benefits this project offers cannot be ‘pooh poohed’.  In this uncertain world while we struggle to balance our budget, struggle to pay our debts, barely provide for the aged and the sick this project is a Godsend, even if it might have rough edges here and there.  So let's embrace it and make it a success. We are badly in need of it”.

Again I say, go for it!

Leon Stubbs has an extensive background in community development. His focus is on integrating culture, community ,commerce and technology (CCCT) in organizational, individual, and community development (OIC-D).He researches, promotes ,plans and manages (OIC-D)projects and programs. He has worked on projects and programs in Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida and      Texas as well as in the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

He collaborates with Dr. Davidson Hepburn ,former UNESCO President, in promoting culture and commerce, especially in Small Island Development Environments.

He visited St.Maarten and St.Eustatius in September of 2011 where he was the guest speaker at the St.Eustatius Tourism Foundation event. Invited by Charles Lindo and Maya Leon-Pandt, Leon contacted by Arthur Lugisse of the Tallahassee -St.Maarten Foundation came and did his presentation pro-bono for TLH-SXMF in Statia. He has been working closely with Mr. Arthur Lugisse for many years in support of the Tallahassee-St.Maarten Foundation as one of their international consultant.

Leon Stubbs resides in the Greater San Antonio, Texas area USA.

Contact person: 1-721-587-9367

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - It goes without saying that the support of a community in uplifting the youth is a significant task which yields monumental results.

When 15-year old Learning Unlimited Student, Ki-Mani Olivacce set out on his benevolent endeavor to start a back-to-school drive for the less fortunate youth of St. Maarten, he never imagined the extent of the outpour of support he would receive.

With the culmination of the drive, Ki-Mani would like to take the time and extend his gratitude for the tremendous show of support for his undertaking.

Due to the donations of a remarkable estimated 400 school bags and school supplies, Ki-Mani was able to supply numerous foster homes, non profit organizations, and social services with supplies that were provided to the youths they oversee. Additionally, Ki-Mani distributed school supplies at House of Restoration Church, upon the invitation of Pastor Peart. Ki-Mani Olivacce would like to personally thank those who helped in making this drive a success. Every detail from advertising, organizing and execution, sorting and making deliveries were met with eager members of the community who contributed in some form or fashion.

The donations were distributed among: Dr. Judith Arndell for the Ujima Foundation, Hope Outreach, House of Restoration Church, Ms. Cassandra Gibbs for the I Can Foundation, Ms. Sally Benjamin for the New Start Foundation, and the All Children Education Foundation.

Mr. Richardson, the Director of Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten and Social Worker, Ms. Meredith Concincion. The schools and institutions that received donations were: Ruby Labega Primary School, Marie Genevieve de Weever School, and Sister Magda Primary School.

In putting the dream to fruition, many thanks go to Meyers Group of Companies for being the initial sole propriety for drop off location of donations, followed by WIB. As a wonderful support and constantly encouraging his endeavors, Ki-Mani would like to give a special thanks to his aunt Mrs. Silvia Meyers Olivacce, and his cousins Indira and Abdul Meyers for their generous donations.

For their recent donations and support, Ki-Mani Olivacce would also like to thank:

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports- Mrs. Silveria Jacobs, Rotary Club of Sint Maarten Mid Isle,American University of the Caribbean's Latino Medical Student Association, Mr. Dekembe Molina, Kooyman Megastore, Meyers Group of Companies, Mr. Michael Granger, Nagico Insurances, Pantophlet Vila Foundation,Prime Distributors, Safe Cargo Services

Sign Triple 9, Simply Masters Foundation, St. Maarten Cinemas, Travel Planners, Viva Signs

WIB, and Xerox. Thank you to Ayanna Richards and Xavier Hodge for their help in assisting with packing and distribution as well.

“Truthfully, I could not have made such a huge impact without you and I deeply appreciate your generosity. Thank you for your investment and valuable contribution to our community,” stated Ki-Mani.

“I thank my parents Joseph and Sharmaine Olivacce for the unconditional love and assistance, says Ki-Mani. “You’ve taught me to give by your examples and always encouraged me to think of others. The backing of my family meant a lot to me because the love and spirit of giving begins at home.” Their tireless dedication of time and resources in helping to make this drive a success was instrumental.  

“I’m happy with the outcome of the back-to-school drive.” stated Ki-Mani. “Seeing the smiles and happy faces of children who received the supplies was the best form of appreciation. I want to continue every year and make each year bigger than the last so that more youth can begin every school year with the tools they need to succeed.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed! Your willingness to help the youth in the St. Maarten community made a huge difference in the lives of the children who truly benefitted.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear all,

As the count down officially begins for election 2016, a new venture has been launched locally "Wuk up the Vote" which is a poll geared at gauging support for the various political parties contesting the elections and to provide an indication of the likely outcome of the Monday September 26th elections.
The OSPP have provided clear, concise and practical solutions in our manifesto 2016, a copy of which is also attached, and we are willing, ready and able to work to secure  all our futures. We are not super human so we know it cannot be done alone because at the end of the day it takes cooperation, input and effort from all concerned, especially the people of the island, to implement positive change. 
Despite not being part of the current government, and despite not being an elected official of the current parliament, our number one candidate Leonard "Lenny" Priest has worked tirelessly and as of now thanklessly throughout the past two years suggesting proposals to the current and past governments that would bring economic relief and stability where it is most needed; he attempted to secure housing for St. Maarteners; proposed a sports lottery be introduced, the proceeds of which would go towards meeting the needs of local sports team and sports men/women; he proposed a loan guarantee fund that would allow people wanting to start a business the opportunity for that loan to be guaranteed by government because he realized that many persons who have the skills and mindset to make a success of their small business do not get the opportunity because of a lack of collateral; These are among many other proposals made on the behalf of you the voters. Unfortunately none of these were implemented because the OSPP is not in Parliament so cannot go to bat for you on the floor of Parliament where decisions that affect you are made. We ask you to remedy that situation on September 26th and vote OSPP.
All our OSPP candidates are committed to serving you the people of the island and we ask for your support in this election to empower our proposals and solutions by casting your ballot for the OSPP on Monday September 26th. We ask that you do not just support us but also show us that support for the efforts we have made and continue to make on your behalf.
We also ask that prior to the September 26th election--the day we need your support most of all-- that you participate in the "Wuk up the Vote" campaign and "boops" OSPP. We will never stop fighting for you the voters, but now we need you to fight for us and on September 26th vote OSPP, we are fighting to secure your future but we cannot do it without you.
Thank you


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear Honorable Council of Ministers,

The St, Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association –SHTA, the largest private sector representative, has been closely following the media reports about the upcoming development of the Pearl of China/Caribbean.

While the SHTA realizes that there could be a need for foreign Direct Investments and job creation, but lacking proper statistics there is no way to be sure. At this point we feel that we do not have enough information about the project in order to form a proper opinion. It would be a shame if one of the largest projects to reach our shores for many years doesn’t happen because of a lack of information.

A project of this magnitude, which will impact the entire island should, besides broad community support, also enjoy broad political support. The only way to achieve that is through an open and transparent process. As an example the SHTA would like to mention the Indigo project where many rounds of consultations were held with the stakeholders before plans were finalized.

The SHTA considers it of the utmost importance that the community at large is properly informed when it comes to large developments.

In order to be able to assess the impact of this development we, as representatives of the private sector, have a few questions. Not asking these questions would make us poor representatives.

  1. What are the credentials of these investors? i.e. How will the community be guaranteed that these investors have the capital and the ability to bring this project to fruition in an equitable and sustainable way?
    Was an environmental impact study performed and if so can it be made public now?
    This should, besides the effects on nature in the area, also include impacts on infrastructure, utilities and the surrounding residential communities.
    Has an economic impact study been done? If so, can the results be made public?
  2. Does this resort plan to offer all-inclusive packages?
  3. Will this resort receive a casino license if they request one?
  4. Did Government make any financial, fiscal or other commitments, like, but not limited to;
    Tax Holidays, permits for foreign employees skilled and unskilled, special utility rates, permits where it concerns concessions like i.e. watersports or beach chairs?
  5. Has this project been looked at from the perspective as outlined in the carrying capacity study as well as the draft development plan for the little bay area?
  6. Is there a plan to expand the airport in order to deal with the increased arrivals of long haul wide body jets?
  7. Is there any additional information on the “water source” mentioned? If so can we please have it?
  8. What is the intended location and scope of the “eco-city”?
  9. What measures will be taken to prevent harming current businesses that already handle Chinese products on both a wholesale and retail level, like clothing, electronics and other consumer goods?
  10. To what extent does becoming a “hub” impact government revenues when increased direct imports erode the TOT base?
  11. Will the, to be established, “competition authority” and “consumer protection” also apply to the Chinese showcase?
  12. Will this showcase be open to anyone or only to businesses active in particular market segments?
  13. Has advice from the SER been sought about the implications of this type of resort? If so can we review the request?
  14. Is there an actual business plan that indicates how many jobs will be created post construction? And how many of these jobs will require Chinese speaking employees?
  15. What type of business licensing will be required of the companies using the showroom?

These are just some of the questions that arise from the limited information available at this time.

In the interest of transparency, Government should provide more information. The good, the bad and the ugly, so that the people and taxpayers of Sint Maarten can decide for themselves whether this is an economic development that fits our community.

The SHTA has read and shares many of the concerns as expressed by the Nature Foundation and other vocal personalities in the community. The SHTA also appreciates the Prime Minister’s concern that the opposition to the project, may scare off the investor.

This is, in the opinion of the SHTA all the more reason for some additional clarity. If this project is to be successful, buy-in from the entire community is required, and that can only be achieved once all the information is provided and the community at large is able to discuss the pros and cons in an open and democratic way, with due consideration for everyone’s needs and concerns.

We look forward to receiving the requested information and constructive dialogue.


The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association - SHTA

c.c. The Council of Ministers

c.c. Parliament of Sint Maarten

c.c. The Ombudsman

c.c. The SER

c.c. Sint Maarten Media

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Member of Parliament George Pantophlet says finally things are being done.

It is becoming very obvious that the National Alliance led government knows how to get things done. Soon the different Ministries will be housed in the new administration building which is a major achievement.

The reconstruction of The Prins Willem Alexander School will begin soon, the law that gives the Receiver’s office the authority to collect the outstanding casino fees is finally in place.

We have lost millions in these fees. There is still much more to be done and this is the reason why the National Alliance needs a full mandate for 4 years.

The casino gaming board has to become a reality. The consumer protection agency has to be put in place. What the Member of Parliament has been pursuing vehemently also is the issue of Schools being charged commercial rates, this has to change. He is confident that giving the National Alliance the full mandate will ensure this takes place.

The ongoing discussions on the short term contract better known as the 6 month contract. The National Alliance while in the opposition benches submitted an initial draft ordinance supported by Member of Parliament Frans Richardson to deal with the abuse of this contract in 2011 and 5 years later it has not been finalized.

One of the cardinal points as of late is the fact that when this law is established, it has to go retroactive, this is to prevent persons that have been on short term contracts for years from losing their years of service.

Another issue is the taxing of pensioners who have paid their dues, invested in buildings such as apartments and now are being taxed which the Member considers double taxation. And furthermore they should not be placed in the same tax bracket as the regular tax payers.

These are things that can be dealt with by a National Alliance government who has the full mandate. We cannot be looking over our shoulder in uncertainty fearing that someone might jump ship because his or her personal agenda not that of the people is not addressed.

There are many more issues but will deal with them as time goes by. Finally the job is being done.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Just like everywhere in the world, election time on Sint Maarten spawns heated debates. Especially in a country that has known too little stability over the past six years, mud slinging season has officially started who is responsible for what. As every Sint Maartener’s right to an opinion is preserved by our constitution, we are allowed so. Even though I highly underline that freedom to say anything, in this article I will argue that for the sake of our future, we should keep ethical boundaries in place for a workable future for our country.

One of the key mud slinging arenas of the past weeks has been that around the new hospital. As much has been said about that, I want to stick to the facts. Not because the honorable Minister Lee is a fellow party member, but because I myself am a man of facts and figures. In my opinion, and so I feel is the word on the streets, has Mr. Lee made a well-calculated case for creating better health care for Sint Maarten. As a social insurance professional involved in healthcare, both the process and its result are sound.

Having had support of several of the most highly regarded institutions in a fully transparent process, ten years from now, my guess is there will be no Sint Maartener regretting the decision made by the selection committee. Next to that, depending on who will be governing soon, we might have put the money to worthier use. As a matter of fact, this might have been the flagship of change to the better on Sint Maarten. To go brief, as they sometimes say, numbers don’t lie. As a corporate strategist involved in health and social insurance, I know when the process and numbers are sound, it is difficult to mount a defense.

But, as oftentimes, it appears we are a creative nation. If a reasonable case is made, opposing factions get creative in their irrationality. Unfortunately, a strong and transparent hospital case has led to attacks of a level of slander that fortunately were hitherto unknown to our young country. It is unfortunate, that it had to start at this elections, with the health of Sint Maarteners at stake.

As a principled and religious man, holding values in high regards, a specific situation struck me especially. A postcard sized political handout my ten year old daughter recently brought into our family home. Within the Belvedere area, a politician carrying the title of MD, appears to be spreading handouts of coffins. It insinuates how Sint Maarten’s government, health care providers and health insurance provider led or will lead to death, sorrow and destruction if you would not vote for him. Whether it was targeted specifically towards people like my daughter still being perceptive to dangerous assumptions or reached her “by accident”, I think the politician in question has made Sint Maarten politics reach unknown depths.

And with this flyer, Sint Maarten might have even breached ethical boundaries beyond. I am pretty sure that within the Kingdom, no party ever insinuated that another one caused death and destruction amongst its own civilians. Neither do I think in our own Caribbean region a party portrayed this lack of values.

And even if some deviant Caribbean party did so, let’s pray they did not recklessly distribute these in an area with families. With small children barely able to read, receiving a message visually stating a future Sint Maarten hospital, not proposed by his party, will be leading to deaths. Lastly, for that generation able to read and critically think like that of my daughter’s, bringing in the flyer alarmingly, it is a very bad showcase of what apparently is allowed during election time.

I call on the party responsible not to spread these dangerous and highly incendiary insinuations secretively in possibly perceptive neighbourhoods and persons, but show the lack of social responsibility and values in plain sight. As a man of principles, I neither support slander, nor lies. But even more less so, do I support secretly spreading shocking and misleading message amongst vulnerable people, acting differently in daylight. Only by a transparent discussion, people can make up their minds properly who align with their personal principles, and who deserves their vote during these important elections.

Moreover, the values we let go during elections, will be difficult to repair after. The more unethical and less adult our political standards get, the less stability we will get back. And the less stability we will get back, even more less will our country be able to live up to our motto “Always Progressing”.

Yours truly,

Reginald Willlemsberg

DP Candidate No#7

“Because Principles Matters”

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