Island Opinions

Island Opinions (734)

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

The preachers the politicians
And the Pimps

The preacher drop his 
righteous robe
Just so he could take up 
an irreligious role
The pimps openly engage
Government in a heated
Battle over exotic dancers 
and licensing
So as the preacher leave
His pulpit
To take up active politics
The politicians have now 
Taken up
Residence in the henhouses
So they can better control
The Pimping
And human trafficking
And at the same time
Have an eye on their fellow
Politicians
Who are now 
Partime M P s 
But remain fulltime pimps
The judges and prostitutors
Are In an uproar
For the pimps and politicians
Are on the parliament floor
Where this is going
nobody know
The judges say te too hot 
Fo them te handle 
so they throw it out once more
So that the politicians
Can meet with the pimps
Privately
In order to protect the trade
And keep afloat the economy 
And Balance the budget
With out any deficit

copyright 2016 BIG RAY

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a Member of Parliament, I was very vocal in the past via the media about the restructuring of Cadastre and the urgency of filling positions to better serve the community of St. Maarten.

I have taken note of the letter and article of Mr. Lenny Priest regarding the Cadastre.  The Minister of VROMI has already forwarded the proposed names of the restructured board to the Corporate Governance Council for screening. The Corporate Governance Council is in the process of screening the individual candidates and this process by law takes six weeks before the Council renders their advice to Government. They also know the urgency of filling these Board and Management positions.
 
But everything you do in Government, you have to follow proper procedure in order for it to be done in a transparent and correct manner, and the Minister of VROMI is following this trajectory.‎
 
MP Lake stated, "I believe in following a procedure in a legal way and transparent way but with a time frame based on the urgency of filling these positions. You can see the same lengthy process in following the right procedures the Minister currently has to follow with restructuring of our electricity company NV GEBE.
 
I would like to thank the existing interim manager Ms. Marcia Peterson and entire staff of Cadastre for the excellent work that they are doing despite being short staff.  They have continued to work hard‎ and serve the people of St. Maarten of the country. They are the unsung heroes that is keeping Cadastre up and running during the lengthy process.
 
‎Some people who use to get their certificate of admeasurement in two weeks now might get it in three weeks, but remember they are short staff and the Interim Manager cannot hire new staff so it is unfair to them that they have to work with these conditions.
 
Just for the record and to inform the public correctly, the interim Manager‎ signs for certificates of admeasurement, the registration of mortgages and other services the Cadastre offers to the public. According to the law the Cadastre has six to eight weeks to sign and process any admeasurements, but due to the short staff and the restructuring of the board it is taking a little longer.
 
In closing, the restructuring of Cadastre is a high priority for this Coalition Government and I foresee the Corporate Governance Council rendering their advice to Government very soon based the urgency of the situation.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The General public of St. Maarten has been complaining about the long delays that exist now at the office of land measurements and registration of mortgages.

The Cadaster Office at one point was a department of the Central Government of the former Netherlands Antilles and became a foundation. The Cadaster became an operation that you could depend on as certificate of admeasurements and other services were flowing smoothly.     

Over the last year we are seeing these services of this prestigious foundation deteriorates to the point where the general public is suffering. The UP lead government ignored the deteriorating of this office as they didn’t lift a rock to correct the wrong that was happening. Today we are experiencing the same fate from the NA lead government.

Enough is enough. Either this government doesn’t care or they are not capable of correcting the situation. However, as a political party, the OSPP, we have a responsible to bring it to the attention of this government and the parliament of St. Maarten. We have therefore forwarded a letter to the Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers querying about the functioning of the Cadaster office. We have asked the minister of Vromi if persons have applied for the position of director of the Cadaster based on the advertisement that was placed. How many applicants were there and if they were interviewed? If yes, what was the outcome? And if no interviews took place why not?

We also want to know from the minister how many members are serving on the Supervisory Board and if the quantity constitutes a legal board. It is also important to inform the general public who are the present members of the supervisory board. These are some very pertinent questions as they all are related the good functioning of the Cadaster. If a general director is not appointed and if the supervisory board is not legal then we will continue to receive the type of long delay in services from the Cadaster.

 The OSPP is of the opinion that this organization is playing too much of an important role in the further development of our economy for this government to continue ignoring these appointments. We are therefore insisting that our Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers make the appointments of a general director and members to the supervisory board a top priority in his ministry. We need more surveyors and promotions within are long overdue but that can only happen if those appointments take place. We have to applaud the acting director and the staff for a job well done under these circumstances but things can’t continue like this.

A good functioning cadaster office indirectly generates funds for the coffers of the government and creates many jobs in the construction industry and otherwise. Let’s improve on the services of the Cadaster office we don’t need anybody to come and tell us how to do it.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago - The evolution of labour markets in Latin America and the Caribbean during 2016 will generally be negative, due to forecasts for a more deteriorated macroeconomic context and growth levels than last year and to the weakening of some employment indicators, ECLAC and the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a joint Report released today.

The United Nations organizations point out in a new edition of Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean that these factors, especially the low dynamism in job creation, will likely lead to an increase in urban unemployment of more than half a percentage point (0.5) in 2016 versus 2015.

“The process of continuous improvement of labour indicators that benefited the region during much of the last 15 years halted in a more unfavourable global macroeconomic context,” Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and José Manuel Salazar, Regional Director of ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean, stated in the document’s foreword.

“This underscores the importance of taking measures not only to mitigate the effects of the crisis in the short term, but also to tackle the gaps and lags over the longer term, such as scarce productive diversification, productivity gaps, high informality and inequality,” they added.

The Regional Director of ILO will be one of the special participants in ECLAC’s thirty-sixth session, to be held in Mexico City from 23 to 27 May. In the event, Salazar will deliver a presentation in the round table on regional dimension of follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a series of goals related to inclusive growth and decent jobs.

The Report provides an overview of the performance of Latin American and Caribbean labour markets in 2015. It indicates that, mainly as a result of a slight contraction in regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that year the average unemployment rate recorded its first increase since 2009, rising to 6.5% in 2015 from 6.0% in 2014.

That increase was produced by greater numbers of job seekers entering the labour market compared to previous years, who did not find the necessary quantity of jobs due to the weak creation of salaried employment—which reflects the low dynamism of economic activity, the study adds.

In addition, at a regional level job quality deteriorated because, in light of the dearth of sufficient salaried positions, self-employment expanded and was generally of lower quality.

According to the document, the weakness in job creation in 2015 was manifested in the third consecutive annual decline in the employment rate (by 0.4 percentage points), which implied a reduction in the number of wage income earners per household. This fall in income has played an important role in the estimated poverty increase for 2015 (to 29.2% of the region’s inhabitants, according to ECLAC’s latest projections).

Nevertheless, ECLAC and ILO stress that the deterioration of employment and unemployment indicators is not a widespread phenomenon in the region.

In 2015, the unemployment rate increased in just seven of 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries, while in nine others it fell and in the remaining three it held steady. In general, in Central American countries, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean nations the labour market’s evolution was more favourable than in South America, whose performance was affected by the impact of the external context on its economic activity and inflation, among other factors.

The current edition of Employment Situation also analyzes trends in rural areas of the region’s countries between 2005 and 2014 with the aim of identifying if the improvements seen in this period for labour markets as a whole were also registered in these areas, and if the gaps with respect to urban areas narrowed.

The available data shows that rural areas did indeed benefit from the improvements in employment indicators related to quantity and quality seen in the regional total. Nevertheless, the urban-rural gaps did not shrink.

On this topic, the report concludes that in order to advance towards reducing the deficit of decent jobs in rural areas, greater modernization and productive diversification are indispensable, along with productivity improvements in the farming sector. In addition, the report recommends strengthening labour institutions to contribute to the formalization of rural employment, improved social protection, greater compliance with the minimum wage and other labour regulations, as well as to reduce the obstacles to labour insertion for women and youth from rural areas.

Report: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_480313/lang--en/index.htm

http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_480331/lang--en/index.htm

 

In this region there is already some evidence of chronic mediocrity at all levels and silent acceptance by the public, the people being served. The sad reality is that with every passing day, the less than excellent behaviour becomes the norm, the accepted behaviour, I shudder to say – the new excellence, according to Glenda Medford, corporate lawyer and managing director of GEMFORD Consultancy Services Inc who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s 8th Caribbean Tourism Human Resources Conference at Jolly Beach Resort in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Caribbean is not the world, and we are exposed daily, by higher standards of behaviour demanded by the global players to achieve excellence, she added.

Some 140 participants from 13 countries are attending the three-day conference which has as its theme, Making Excellence a Habit: Service, Loyalty and Profitability in Caribbean Tourism.

Please see the full text of the keynote address below.

Mr. Hugh Riley, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Tourism Organization,Caribbean tourism practitioners and leaders, visiting presenters, thank you for inviting me to share a few thoughts on ‘excellence’ – how to make excellence a habit.

As you just heard, I have had an interesting journey in my professional life – one which has given me the opportunity to see first hand and experience the good, the bad and the down right ugly. I have seen  persons you might least expect, deliver outstanding work, driven by an internal hunger, passion and drive to succeed against all odds.

I have seen others who flattered to deceive – in my opinion –falling short of an ideal I had envisaged, considering their profile and experience. I also discovered that what is ‘excellence’ in many ways depends on who is doing the measurement and the circumstances. The achievement in putting a man on the moon is not the same as smashing every record in winning a marathon– but there is no doubt that they are both excellent.

‘Excellence’ is defined as…”the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”

‘To excel’ means “to surpass others or to be superior in some respect or area; to do extremely well”.

Excellence is however not perfection, but as Vince Lombardi remarked elegantly: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”.

In the words of one of my university lecturers Professor P.K Menon: “If you reach for the stars you might reach the tallest tree.’

Excellence is about setting a high standard for yourself and focusing on being as EXCELLENT as YOU can possibly be. It is ultimately inward focused. It is your current ability vs. YOUR maximum potential.

However, some people settle for mediocrity in many aspects of their lives on a daily basis. They may accept shoddy work from an employee, continue to engage and socialize with ‘friends’ that constantly let them down, and continue using a service provider whose service is totally unacceptable. Instead of demanding better, they may shrug their shoulders and accept the MEDIOCRITY being dished out to them.  They tolerate it, they become numb, and very soon their own image of excellence is altered and replaced with a lesser standard – an inferior view.

 

In the words of President Barack Obama: ‘Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.’

In this region there is already some evidence of chronic MEDIOCRITY at all levels and silent acceptance by the public, the people being served. The sad reality is that with every passing day, the less than excellent behaviour becomes the norm, the accepted behaviour, I shudder to say – the new EXCELLENCE’.

The Caribbean is not the world, and we are exposed daily, by higher standards of behaviour demanded by the global players to achieve ‘excellence’.

At the end of this session you can decide if you want to be on the road to excellence or the road to indifference.

As John Wooden said,  “If you do not have time to do it right when will you have time to do it over.”

The industry

Ladies and gentlemen, let me put this conversation within a context.

You are leaders in one of the most important and fastest growing sectors in the world. The Travel and Tourism World Economic Impact  Report for 2015 reveals that Travel & Tourism generated US$7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 277 million jobs for the global economy in 2014.  (Preface page v) 

In addition, international tourist arrivals reached a record 1.14 billion in 2014, (51 million more than in 2013), with forecasts suggesting that in 2030, tourism international arrivals are likely to reach 1.8 billion.  [United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). (chapter 1.1 page 3)]

There is no doubt that Tourism is a vital sector for the Caribbean region and is a major player in our socio-‎economic development. The Caribbean Tourism Organisation reported that 2015 was the second year in a row that the region performed better than the rest of the world, and the sixth consecutive year of growth.

 

At its core, Tourism is about people and places creating memorable experiences for our visitors. If your visitors are satisfied or even overjoyed by their experiences, they can become loyal repeat visitors who become live ‘walking and talking billboards’ for our Caribbean destinations – brand ambassadors.

One of your goals should therefore be to create a customer who creates customers, to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.

Therefore, the combination of the destination physical and human assets with the emotional experiences of visitors are looking for, should produce customer satisfaction AND, a loyal customer, that is, a customer who would come back again and again, make business referrals, and directly or even indirectly provide strong word-of-mouth references and publicity. [John T. Bowen & Stowe Shoemaker, (1998)]

In a nutshell, customers who are loyal cannot be easily influenced or swayed by enticement from competitors.  [Baldinger & Rubinson (1996)] Loyalty results from customer satisfaction which is largely influenced by the value the customers places on the services received and their experiences.

So how can we embed excellence at every level of the ecosystem of our industry? How can this region ensure that it is the destination of choice for the millions of persons who travel worldwide annually? How do we increase our global market share?

Excellence

Let us have a closer look at whether  ‘excellence’ can be used by this region, as the solution, the silver bullet for keeping ahead of the competition, retaining current visitors, acquiring new ones, growing market share, and ultimately increasing the tourism dollars.

 

Striving for excellence is not new for the Caribbean in fact our history has shown the determination, strength of will and character of our people to overcome adversity and to achieve excellence.

Within our small Caribbean Community, many have achieved excellence in different spheres of activity measured by local and international standards.

We can point to the success of Sir William Arthur Lewis wh0 won the Nobel Memorial prize in Economics in 1979 and Derek Walcott who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992;Bob Marley who lives on through his music which is known and loved in every corner of the globe – today marks the 35 anniversary of his death; and Usain Bolt – to name a few.

Unfortunately we can also point to too many examples where service delivered was less than excellent service.

Excellence is a place where people who refuse to settle for mediocrity live; it is a place where one reaps all the hard work sown. It is a journey of continuous progression toward the goals in your life.

Excellence, the highest human achievement is NOT beyond anyone’s capacity.  It is not a fixed goal – it is an ever-changing dynamic; a moving target. The quality of your craft and abilities today should not be the same as last year. Excellence is an every moving target.

 ‘Excellence is not a destination; it’s a journey that never ends.’

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman published the management book, “In Search of Excellence” where they identified eight characteristics of excellent companies:

1.     A bias for action –( getting things done)

2.     Stay close to the customer

3.     Autonomy and entrepreneurship- (are flexible and supportive of the creative process)

4.     Productivity through people – (employee engagement and treating employees with dignity and respect)

5.     clear and compelling organizational values  - (the right values will define the company)

6.     focusing on what you do best

7.     operating with a lean staff – flatter organisation

8.      finding a balance between having enough structure without getting stuck in it – (co-existence of a firm’s direction and an individual’s autonomy)

In reflecting on these principles articulated 34 years ago, Holly Green wrote in Forbes magazine, “Redefining Excellence for Today's World”:

“These principles remain good guides to this day. However, the business world has changed almost beyond recognition over the last 30 years, and the time has come to redefine what excellence means. In today’s world, excellence is more than a set of principles. It’s a set of beliefs, ways of thinking, a matter of discipline, and ways of focusing.

Excellence starts with getting very clear on the end state you wish to achieve (winning) and relentlessly driving towards it every day. Excellence requires knowing when to push on (even when you don’t have all the information or the perfect solution), but doing it well and constantly refining as you forge ahead. Excellence means accepting only the best, and understanding that when it is not given that you, as the leader, are at least partly responsible.”

 

Transformation – change management

Working to achieve excellence requires leaders to really look at their business model and processes, the recruitment process, people development approaches, your systems, product development and marketing - and making changes designed to help you to function in an every changing environment and to satisfy and exceed your customers’ expectations and demands. In order to improve an organization you have to be prepared to change how the work is done.

In the words attributed to Mark Twain: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’

I can tell you first hand that managing change is difficult but the aim is to find a way to be always relevant and to remain a big player in the game.

 

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

Making Excellence a Habit

So how can we make excellence a habit?

As Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

I am going to share a few tools you can use towards achieving personal or business excellence.

1.     Make a list of priorities every day. Practice small. Practice daily

Developing a habit requires daily personal commitment and repetition. Be disciplined. You must commit to make those baby steps every day.

2.     Be consistent

Striving for excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.

3.     You need to be hungry for success – have a deep and burning desire to excel

If you have the will to win, you will develop the will to prepare and persevere. 

4.     Understand your customers

A clearer understanding of your customers, and their expectations as it relates to a service, will contribute to a more effective positioning, promotion and communication strategies.

For example, Millennials, also known as ‘Gen Y’ are driving change in the travel industry. They are a young, yet influential demographic group of travellers born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, who according to Millenniel Traveller report, represent ‘20% of international travellers and by 2020, 320 million international trips are expected to be made by them each year, a staggering 47% increase from 217 million in 2013.’ [Millenial Traveller report]

Millenniels are:

  • Tech savy
  • Like  authenticity [and prefer hands on experiences, walking in the footsteps of locals and exploring heritage and hike trails]
  • Spontaneous
  • Rely on word of mouth

Milleniels are a digital generation who are changing the rules of the game.

 

5.       Be a yardstick of quality.

Implement a business plan with clear objectives and goals, responsibilities, accountabilities and standards of performance with measurements; engage the team and ensure everyone understands their role and deliverables; leaders - walk the talk; engage your team with performance assessment and staff engagement tools, and share the information/feedback. Engage the customer – their feedback is vital; have customer surveys and share the feedback with your team. Create a service culture with staff embracing the brand values as well as having the knowledge, communication skills and are empowered to deal with interactions and situations.

 

5. Exercise Emotional Intelligence 

 

Leaders should exercise Emotional intelligence – E.I. - if they are to achieve extraordinary results. The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others.

 

6.     Put God first –thank him every day for grace, mercy, humility, talents, understanding, prosperity  and wisdom – in advance

7.     Push yourself –human spirit can win again great odds

Challenge yourself. Be relentless.

If you do not set high standards for yourself, who will? There is no escalator to excellence, but rather a stairway which needs to be climbed step by step. Excellent people do not settle for the status quo - they want to experience the best and be the best. That means giving their best each time; every day. They go the extra mile so that in everything they do, in everything they say and think, they are striving for excellence. They make excellence a habit.

Every job is a self portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.

These are but a few suggestions to get going onto the road to excellence. If we get the people fired up the rest will fall in place.

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential  these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence”Eddie Robinson

Do not be afraid. You can do it.

The sky is the limit.

Over the years I’ve discovered that not everyone is comfortable with the fact that we are so tourism-dependent, said Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization as he addressed the opening of the CTO’s 8th Tourism Human Resources Conference at the Jolly Beach Resort in Antigua & Barbuda.

“To some it sounds like we are stuck there; like we are saying that somehow we should not develop other areas of our economies. We should not try to diversify. Of course we should. Countries all over the world that were overly dependent on one sector or another, have sought to diversify their economies; and interestingly, all of the world’s developed countries, rich in various natural and other resources, have turned serious attention to developing their tourism sectors,” he said.

The full text of the secretary general’s speech is available below.

Hon. Samantha Marshall, Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development

Mrs. Paula Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy,

Mr. Colin James, Chief Executive Officer, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

Mrs. Vanessa Ledesma, Chief Operating Officer, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association

Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, tourism specialist at the OECS Commission

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and an honor to be with you today to share a few opening thoughts as we tackle the business of Making Excellence a Habit.

My comments are just the appetizer because the experts whom Bonita Morgan and her team have assembled to speak to us over the next few days, will certainly serve up the main course.

Before we even begin, please join me in thanking The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism for Antigua and Barbuda and his team of professionals for their gracious hospitality and their warm welcome to Antigua.

The person who met us and drove us here from the airport is certainly one of finest first impressions of a destination that I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. Cleo Henry’s knowledge, pride in her country and sheer eloquence, should be used as an industry best-practice.

Our gratitude too, must go to the Management and Staff at Jolly Beach Resort for their attentiveness and their obvious focus on satisfying the needs of their guests. 

There is no denying that when we speak of customer satisfaction, we often tend to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on front line employees. Why? Because they are critically important to the delivery of the tourism product to the end user, and are therefore an essential source of immediate feedback on how we’re doing.

But in addition to the frontline, there are the legions of team members who are involved in every aspect of creating, selling, marketing, designing, building, defending, testing, researching and communicating the experience we ultimately deliver. Because we are tourism destinations, we naturally focus on visitors but the basic formula for winning the satisfaction and approval of our customers, works in virtually any field of endeavor.

So what is it that we really aim to achieve in our interaction with customers?

Imagine for a moment how our day would begin - and end - if we truly focused on making every customer a repeat customer. So regardless of what you do, you go to work tomorrow and decide that each interaction is going to be aimed at getting this person to come back to your restaurant, or hotel, watersports facility or country.

So automatically, you are now in the mode of doing such an excellent job to get them back, time and again, that you are spontaneously guaranteeing that their current experience is special. You are effectively making that process a habit.

When I was putting these few thoughts together about Making Excellence a Habit, I was curious to see how Webster, Oxford, Encarta and even the American Journal of Psychology defined a habit.  Generally speaking, they sort of agree that a habit is a regular tendency or practice. An automatic reaction to a specific situation.

So we effectively need to be making excellence automatic. 

And why does it even matter if we’re excellent? Who cares? We all must care.

Because we are the world’s most tourism-dependent region, we must care more than anyone else. No one should pay more attention to delivering a superb experience, than we in the Caribbean.

Over the years I’ve discovered that not everyone is comfortable with the fact that we are so tourism-dependent.  To some it sounds like we are stuck there; like we are saying that somehow we should not develop other areas of our economies. We should not try to diversify. Of course we should. Countries all over the world that were overly dependent on one sector or another, have sought to diversify their economies; and interestingly, all of the world’s developed countries, rich in various natural and other resources, have turned serious attention to developing their tourism sectors!

There are reasons why the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region.

The number one reason is that we have a huge competitive advantage. Where else in the world is there the combination of Dutch, English, French, Spanish, African and Asian cultures in one destination?

The Caribbean’s natural and built-heritage, its food, visual and performing arts, history and infectious hospitality are all attractive magnets for foreigners seeking a new narrative.

Stunning colonial architecture and pockets of indigenous peoples also provide rich experiences waiting to captivate curious discoverers.

Where else is there a combination of excellent weather, all year-round, alluring beaches and infectious rhythms?

The Caribbean is proud to possess 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, located in 14 countries. Some of the Caribbean’s sites were inscribed on the list as early as 1982, placing us on the list before prominent countries like China, India, Spain and the UK.

So those are some of the competitive advantages that make us proud of our tourism prominence.

But as important as it is to have all of that, the adhesive that must bind it all together is service excellence.

Our competitors around the world can always have deeper pockets and taller buildings; but no one should have better people than the Caribbean. Nowhere in the world should there be a population that is more dedicated to acquiring the tools and using the resources available to constantly assess and improve our performance. In other words, as a region we must pay close attention to customer response mechanisms, so that we always know how our guests are defining excellence.

That feedback is essential. Grab every realistic opportunity to communicate with your guests and find out how they really feel. Only by knowing how we are doing, can we constantly improve. 

At the Caribbean Tourism Organization we feel so strongly about this that we created a monitoring mechanism for destinations. Guestpitality - Total Visitor Satisfaction asks visitors to assess their destination experience in seven critical sectors. This is on-the-ground feedback on how a country is doing in the most vital areas of a visitor’s experience. Just as high scores are validation of what you are doing right, Guestpitality also points out the sectors that need attention. If we want to be excellent, we must make collecting feedback a habit!

We all know that there are good habits and bad habits; and as we also know, habits are hard to break. So let’s choose good ones, and then make them impossible to break!

Telem Group (St.Maarten Telecommunication Operating Company - SMOTC ) the government-owned company is the leading provider of telecommunications services in Sint Maarten. Despite being a leader in the field, for the past decade - Telem is without a CEO. Currently the company is being guided by a management team chaired by the CFO - Ms. Helma Etnel, a Suriname-national. She was appointed by the supervisory board originally chaired by Mr. Rafael Boasman, and now chaired by Mr. Jairo Bloem who finally initiated the CEO recruitment. And that, is only the tip of the iceberg for Telem's poor state.

Telem became an autonomous company with its own managing director and staff due to the catastrophic hurricane Luis in 1995. The hurricane caused chaos with widespread service outages and service disruptions. The first managing director without any supervision from Curacao was Mr. Curtis Haynes who developed Telem’s internet, mobile and international services. Since his dismissal 10 years ago the company has been without a CEO.

In 1998, the telecommunications market in St. Maarten was liberalized, but Telem failed to seize the opportunity. It entered the market competing against already established players in the industry such as Antelecom—formerly Landsradio—and ECC which was the first mobile operator on Saint Martin. The ECC, an East Caribbean Cellular, privately owned by US entrepreneur Barfield. The company is an example to foreign-owned companies in the field, remaining stagnant in the market until sold. In ECC's case, it was sold for close to 16 million US$ to Cellular One, and eventually never surviving the GSM wave, went bankrupt.

Inside Telem, Management of the company has not been selected on merit, but with favoritism and political connections instead. Previous managers's names has been linked to everything from failed television project scandals to recreational travels at company's expanse and all the way to rumors of romantic involvements with co-workers. Needless to say, pervious management was a failour on the professional side of things as well, not being able to forward the company technologically-wise or in services provided.

A few years ago, Peter Drenth, a specialist from the Netherlands, was brought in, and Managed to revitalize a stagnant company. Unfortunately, Drenth's contract was not extended since he felt the best course of action was for the government to sell the company. It all kept going downhill for the company since.

Today in St. Maarten's, Home internet customers are confronted with a plethora of problems on a daily basis, ranging from poor connection, slow speeds to some of the highest service-costs in the region. This is compounded by subpar customer care as the company has proven itself unable to adequately address service outages. Not to mention Telem’s inability to meet the demands of thousands of new customers when the company is plagued by dropped calls, slow mobile internet new competition as well as expensive local and roaming rates.

In conclusion, Telem has failed to live up to its mission statement “to be the best service provider in Sint Maarten with the best technology!” and until now is unable to deliver a consistent quality product of internet or mobile affordable to everyone.

The same Telem that is owned by the government of Sint Maarten that should be held accountable for the mismanagement – that was supposed to be a national engine of growth, is a company that is not helping to progress Sint Maarten’s economy. St. Maarten is a top Caribbean destination with a great potential, and it deserves first class service from its own company to be provided to its people and its tourists.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear MP Wescot-Willams,

By means of this letter, I am directing a number of questions to Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Angel Meyers. I have grave concerns about a number of discrepancies, inconsistencies and conflicting issues that arise in two different tenders/contracts for garbage collection and district cleaning as well as clear conflicts with our law.

I am aware that the Minister has put off the tendering of the garbage contracts until further notice. This is a good move and one I encourage the Minister to prolong until he and/or his Ministry carries out a thorough investigation to correct the discrepancies.

The move to postpone the tender was the right one for all interested parties. There were only six actual work days between the information meeting for interested contractors and the submission date. A postponement was only the proper thing to do.

Moving on to the discrepancies/inconsistencies in the tenders, I want the Minister to give an explanation as soon as possible and preferably before any new date for the tender submission is decided upon by the Minister.

1.       In the Solid Waste Collection on St. Maarten 2016-2021 Tender Document, Parcel 1 as described on Page 25 lists the same streets, alleys and public areas as in the District Cleaning 2016-2018 for Parcel 13 (Page 20). Please explain the duplication.  

2.       In the Solid Waste Collection on St. Maarten 2016-2021 Section 2, Project Definition on Page lists public areas for garage and stray garbage collection on main roads, alleys, and squares including beaches. This is again duplicated in the District Cleaning 2016-2018 under Deliverables (Page 5, Section 2.4-a). Again, do explain this duplication for the District Cleaning calls for cleaning of all public areas and beaches (including any type of land greenery on the beach) once every two weeks.

3.       In the Solid Waste Collection on St. Maarten 2016-2021 Section 2, Page 10, 2.4.7 Main Road Cleaning calls for stray garbage to be collected everyday on the main roads and the removal, collection and transport of erosion material twice every month in hurricane season and once every month outside of hurricane season. In the District Cleaning 2016-2018 on Page 5, 2.4 Deliverables calls for once per week cleaning of all public roads and roadsides from stray garbage and erosion materials. Again, please explain what appears to be the same job in two different contracts.

4.       In the Minutes of the Information Meeting of April 25, Agenda point #3, it is started that garbage on the beach, becomes part of the district cleaning and the bins placed on the beaches by the government must be serviced three times per week by the contractor for the parcel. This does not match the tender document which calls for cleaning once every two weeks. Please provide explanation.

5.       Contractors were told in the April 25 Information Meeting if they do not list workers on their tender they can request a list of unemployed youngsters to select potential workers from the Labour Department if they win the bid. Has the Minister or his Ministry look in the requirement to access such a list and the length of time the access takes? Was access to the list discussed with the Labour Department? If yes, what was the response?  

6.       To avoid the same disaster as with the collection of solid waste, which is not 100 per cent resolved, I encourage the Minister to pay more attention to ensure contractors actually have the availability of equipment to carry out the job. Has this aspect been considered and, if yes, where it is reflected in the Call for Tender?

7.       Why is there no guarantee of willingness for contractors bidding for the District Cleaning contract? After all this is a government project so an explanation about the exclusion of this step is more than needed. I request such post haste.

8.       In the April 25 Information Meeting Minutes under the answer to Question 5, it is started that youngsters are people ages 18-35. The tender calls for the hiring of youngsters within that age bracket. Does this mean anyone over age 35 will not have access to employment? If yes, is this not against our Labour Law and can be consider discrimination?

9.       Under Question 6 in the Minutes, contractors were told no garbage collection experience was needed, because companies did not have to have a business licence for such work. It is stated that any company in good standing could submit a tender. Is this not against the law in terms of companies getting licences for specific purposes?

10.   Can the Minister confirm that his Ministry and/or Government has allocated funds to assist contractors (to start up their business) who win the bid to carry out the job? If yes, what’s the logic behind this? Would it be a situation of giving a job to an ill-equipped company? What’s the amount in question and where in the budget will be it taken from?

11.   It has been suggested that the District Cleaning tender has been designed to keep out the two large garbage haulers who lost their contracts for Solid Waste Collection 2016-2021. This is evidenced in the Tender Document requiring only contractors / businesses who have not made NAf 500,000 in the past two years. Is this not discriminatory and somewhat victimization against contractors? What’s the Minister’s view on this?    

12.   Is the Minister of VROMI aware of glaring conflicts with the laws and government policy?

After reviewing the discrepancies with the tenders as well as the glaring fact that no guarantee of willingness and no insurance, I am left only to brand this venture as discriminatory, in conflict with the law and government policy. Contractors are asked to make bids for government work, but are not being given the same treatment or preferences are other contractors. This should not be so and should be corrected now.

Looking for forward to speedy answers from the VROMI Minister.

Sincerely, 

MP Tamara Leonard 

United People’s (UP) party

 

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

Another young man bite the dust
They call him pinochiu
As He lies there life less
In the dirt
Gun down by three deadly bullets
And no one seems to know from where 
They came fo sure
And the gendarmerie
Can't identify him just the same
All we know is they call him pinochiu
And another youth is cut down
As His blood drain to the ground
Soualigua cryin out to the sky
Askin the Master the reason why
Why soo young ah child has to die
What is wrong with us
Why so much violence and fuss
Four Cruise ships in our port
People come from miles
Just to be on our friendly shores
And see our beautyful smiles
But How can we smile 
when among us there is soo 
Much hatred violences and crimes
And our young men
And women are falling
On the road side like flies
Gun down daily by their piers
As we stand bye helplessly
And in shock, overwork Exorsted and stress
As the blood of our youngsters
Is Crying out from Earth in distress
There is too many guns in this land
And they are not been made by our hands
Still they are circulating and end up
In our children's hands
We don't own the ships
or the air planes
That they use to bring
Those GUNS in
So some one else is profiting
From these crimes 
Otherwise their Importatiom
Would be prohibited
And GUN crimes would be limited
But for that to happen our young peoples lifes
Must MATTER
More than the GUNS profiteers 
and the benifits of the promoters
So let us send a clair message
To the BLOOD SUCKERS
THAT THE LIFES OF WE YOUTHS
DO MATTER
SO PLEASE STOP THE SLAUGHTER
Copyrights 2016
Big Ray

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Thank you, Sint Maarteners.

“Is that your ninth notebook already Teacher? Teacher Jodi, you write too much!” That is the comment of one of the 6th graders when I pull out my notebook. Over the past nine months he has kept trace of my work and has explained to others who I am and what I do. “She is learning from us about living on Sint Maarten, how we learn and how we teach. And she writes down all the crazy things we say. This is her ninth book!”

This 6th grader is one of the future citizens of Sint Maarten who has been teaching me about living together on this beautiful island. Since August 2015 I have been living and learning on Sint Maarten in order to better understand the ways in which primary school pupils imagine belonging on Sint Maarten. My work is part of a collaborative effort between the University of Amsterdam, the University of Utrecht and the University of Saint Martin, funded by the NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The effort is entitled ‘Imagining the nation in the classroom’.

In 2014 the NWO decided to invest in research in the Dutch Kingdom, focusing on transitions after 10-10-10. They gave funding to different research groups. One group that you might have heard about is that from the KITLV headed by the well-known Caribbeanist Dr. Gert Oostindie. His Confronting Caribbean Challenges group has been doing research on the different islands in the Dutch Caribbean. One of their methods used by one of his staff, Dr. Wouter Veenendaal, you might have heard about, is a large-scale survey involving the Department of Statistics (STAT), the governmental statistics agency on St. Maarten, in which opinions about the developments after 10-10-10 were measured.

The research group that I am part of is headed by Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, researcher at the University of Amsterdam and the president of USM. Instead of using surveys or questionnaires we have chosen to invest in long-term in-depth fieldwork on Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius. I am the lucky PhD candidate who was assigned to do fieldwork on Sint Maarten. I was invited to teach at USM and to live and learn amongst all of you.

My research has focused on the way national belonging is taught and learned in the primary schools on the island. An important tool in creating this sense of Us, making children see themselves as Sint Maarteners instead of say Sabans or Dominicans is socialization in the classrooms: singing the Sint Maarten song, learning about the island’s flora and fauna, doing traditional dances, participating in festivities such as Sint Maarten’s Day celebrations, carnival, etc. Of equal importance is how the teachers address the students. Do they call them St. Maarteners next to the various ethnic backgrounds of their parents?

To get a grasp of what is happening in the classrooms I have spent time in five different schools on the island. The boards welcomed me and the managers of the different schools introduced me to their staff and allowed me to join students in different classrooms. After this initial three-month introduction period, school manager Mr. Stuart Johnson welcomed me to Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School. There I became a teaching assistant in grade 3 and 6. This allowed me to learn from the students while I helped them mastering their math problems and practicing their language skills.

What I have learnt in the classroom from your children is mind-blowing. They take all that the adults present them with—religious, ethnic, racial, sexual, and national identities—and create something new: a way of relating to each other that includes while critically embracing differences; an open and inclusive belonging, hospitable to the national particularity of Sint Maarten. I have come to the realization that

I and my fellow academics and policy makers, here and in the wider Kingdom, can learn as much from them as we must teach them.

It is now May and even though I have been able to extend my stay a little, my notebooks are filled and it is time for me to take some distance to try and make sense of all that I have learned. And as I go back to the Netherlands, that other part of our Kingdom, I wish to thank you. First and foremost I want to thank all the students that I have worked with. I thank each of you for allowing me into your conversations, your jokes and your games. I thank you for having patience with me and for repeating your words when my grasp of Sint Maarten English was so lousy.

Secondly, I want to thank all the teaching and supporting staff of the Martin Luther King School. Together with the committed managers Mr. Stuart Johnson and Ms. Dorothy Radjouki you have made me feel very much at home. A special thank you goes to teacher LaCroes and Teacher Narine who let me into their classrooms for so many months. Coach Kevin, thank you for letting me play soccer with you and teacher Rudi, thank you for all your dance lessons. Hopefully we continue playing and dancing after the summer.

A last thank you needs to be extended to the management and teachers of the other four schools that welcomed me and allowed me to conduct this research. In particular I would like to thank Mrs. Marva Sam who helped me and a team of interns from Iselinge Hogeschool, in collaboration with the USM, to develop and test a lesson-plan on Slavery and Human Right. This month-long lesson-plan allows teachers and youngsters of Sint Maarten to discuss and think about the important ways in which Caribbean history is an important part of world history.

            This lesson-plan has been developed on the island, and, as a first it will also be taught in the Netherlands. I hope it contributes to an understanding in which all of us in the Kingdom, on each side of “the Big Lake”, realize that respect is a two-way street. Herein we must be willing to learn from each other and grow together. The time in which all teaching methods came from the Netherlands to Sint Maarten and rest of the islands should be passé. The USM will be organizing an event within two weeks whereby the lesson plan will be presented to the Minister of Education, Members of Parliament who are part of educational committee, the Dutch representation on the island, representatives of school boards. The lesson plan will also be shared with Ministers and Commissioners of Education from the other Dutch Caribbean isles.


Persons interested in viewing a video on the presentation of the outcome of the pilot studies on implementation of the lesson plan, should go to youtube page

.
After the summer I will return to continue learning from you, the people of this island. If you wish to be part of it, I would love to hear from you.

Jordi Halfman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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