Island Opinions

Island Opinions (727)

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”

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

Te soon coming
wha soon coming 
De révolution soon coming
And t aint gan be no pan revolution
This time
Te gan .be the people revolting

Cauz they tired suffering
And they decided they coming
And they aint joking
So if yuh aint prepared
YUH better be aware
Cauz they sharing licks
And they coming with big big 
They coming with sauce pan
They coming with fryin pan
In the hand
They coming for all ah ayoo
So ayoo politrickians
Ayoo better be Prepare te run
Fo cover
For who aint running
For something
Gone sûre .be running
From blows
Cauz they sharing blows
Like old clothes
Licks in ayoo cloth
Licks on yo popa
Licks on ayoo moma 
Licks in yo Nainaine

So prepare te soak ayoo
Cauz nobody will be speared
Becauz tis licks they coming 
Te share
So all ayoo better 
come together
And do something fast
If ayoo dont want this 
Revolution come te pass
Copyright 2016


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The smcu wants to make a clarification and a statement on the press release from the prime minister where Crporate Governance council was asked to make their position available.

The prime minister is assuming that members of the Corporate Governance Council have leaked information to the unions about the information sent to the him for the appointment of the CEO for Telem group.

According to the media his reason for the above is that SMCU made statements relating to the advice and Mr. Mingo when to the radio program to boast to be the most qualified candidate.

The clarification is that indeed the SMCU (union) made statement about the candidates and we also sent a press release about a resolution signed by 72 employees from Telem requesting for the vacancy for the CEO position to reopen and allowing the internal employees to apply for the CEO function

At no time did the we mention that the Corporate Governance council had given us any information or advice. The union has neither relationship nor any affiliation with the CGC. This solely the prime minister assumption.

Now that we know that the prime minister can work on assumptions the SMCU will like for the prime minister to work with the facts as well

The board of Telem should be minimum 5 members and they are three and one of them is the candidate for CEO which looks very alarming for the board members to become two. This means that as shareholders representatives of Telem group have should have already recruited new members to undergo screenings.

The other fact is the articles of incorporation of Telem group doesn't correspondent with the names registered at the Chamber of Commerce.

The articles of incorporation indicate two statuary directors which are the CEO and the CFO but registered by the chamber are three statuary directors which are the CFO CCO and the CTO and there are no amendment made by a notary to the articles of incorporation by the chamber

These are the things that the prime minister has to look in to and request these people to make their positions vacant based on the irregularities on the above mentioned legal documentations.

This is the reason the union and its members are requesting to reopen the vacancy of the CEO function and release the current managing board from their responsibilities and appoint one CEO at interim. We need transparency. To the Corporate Governance Council we have never made any statement that we have obtain any information from you

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Member of Parliament Frankie Meyers stated the following on the decreasing economic activities on St. Maarten: “Sadly, often people’s lives are reduced to mere statistics, and the human aspects of these statistics are not taken into account.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - With the prospect of cruise passenger arrivals, the Island’s main source of revenue, expected to decrease by 22%, as testified before Parliament earlier this year by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association along with the 19 member cruise alliance, the economy of St. Maarten appears to be in a downward spiral. This is quite evident by the fewer recorded ships that have been visiting the Island, the loss of cruise lines to other islands and the less than optimistic view of businesses as to the economic future of St. Maarten.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - In the HERALD of Thursday August 25, 2016 we read that EX-MINISTER (Ted Richardson) is believed to be one of the TOP CANDIDATES for the SXM AIRPORT CEO POSITION.

In Saturday August 20, 2016th Daily Herald we read that Alex Dijkhoffz is one of three new persons to be appointed to the board of the PRINCES JULIANA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (PJIA) HOLDING N.V.

In the Herald of August 13, 2016, we read that Rolando Brison is appointed Tourism Authority Director.

Question: What do all of these sudden and swift appointments/announcements have in common??? Answer: MP Silvio Matser and his uncertain political future due to the September 26, 2016 Parliamentary elections.

The PJIA Holding N.V. is the 100% Shareholder of cash-rich PJIA E (Operating) N.V. The PJIAH N.V. is wholly owned by the Government (People) of St. Maarten. The companies that own the Airport, the Sea port and the Tele port are all owned by the Government of St. Maarten and fall under the responsibilities of the Minister of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications).

The Ministry of TEATT was designated to MP Silvio Matser, as his prize for jumping off the UPP ship and forming the coalition of 8. So now just about a month before the September elections we read: 1) Rolando Brison being proposed for STA Director (TOURISM money pot), 2) Alex Dijkhoffz being proposed for PJIAH Board member (a Board that approves the spending of the SXM-Airport money pot) and now 3) Ted Richardson (with how much airport management experience, you say??) being proposed for the CEO position of the SXM (PJIA) AIRPORT, where the airport money pot actually lives.

The one constant connecting the dots between all three persons is MP Silvio Matser.

On the Lady Grace 102.7FM Morning show on Wednesday August 24, 2016, Mr. Matser says he “happened” to be in the Government building (on a SATURDAY!! Yeah right!) and was impromptu invited to witness the signing of a one year employment contract for Brison.

On the same radio program Matser called out an “older person for blasting this young man”. He also said: Give the youth of St. Maarten chance to grow. So I, Michael Ferrier, the older person referred to here-above, has the following suggestions to MP Silvio Matser and all those that are in a position to DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ST. MAARTEN:

Instead of insisting to appoint as Director of the STA a young man who has at least ONE huge blemish on his record, go with another candidate for the STA job, a St. Maarten/St. Martin born and bred bright, articulate, dynamic LOCAL Travel Industry Professional with an impeccable reputation: Mr. TERRANCE REY.

And instead of recycling Ted Richardson, who I am sure would forever be in great debt (or is it indebted) to Mr. Matser for getting him that lucrative Airport job, why not push either Michel (Mikey) HYMAN (presently the Acting Director PJIA Operations Division), or Anastacio (Stacio) BAKER (presently PJIA Manager Quality Assurance), both intelligent, articulate and dynamic young local professionals WITH PLENTY OF ACTUAL AIRPORT EXPERIENCE, into the position of Airport Director?

Then there is Alex Dijkhoffz, he worked for me, so I have the skinny on him. He also worked for, or with a nice old Canadian man who ended up back in his native Canada with a stroke after losing hundreds of thousands of US dollars. I am not sure if there is a connection there.

Michael J. Ferrier.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a politician, campaigning for the elections on September 26th, I am constantly bombarded with questions such as, what can you do for me? Will you fix my papers? Can you make sure that I get a job? Will you increase the pension of my aged mother who is unable to survive on such a meager income?

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - I am calling on the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Angel Meyers as well as NV GEBE, to address a situation in Dawn Beach where there is a challenge with street lights.
Currently work is underway in the area where trenches have been dug for the laying of electrical cables and water mains. This is an opportunity to also make provisions for street lighting for this particular area.
Parts of the Dawn Street are narrow and it’s also hilly in certain areas and street lights would provide additional safety for motorists.
All districts should have street lights. This is very important for a number of reasons. It provides safety to our residents and motorists. They are able to see where they are going within their district.
From a security perspective, street lights also serve a very important purpose as a crime prevention measure. A well-lit area would be a deterrent for would-be burglars.  Also when people are out walking they feel more secure as well.

I appeal to the responsible Minister and NV GEBE to take action and with respect to the Dawn Beach area.

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