Members of the Jacobs Cabinet (from left): Jacobs, Doran, Wever, Irion and Violenus. (Dimetri Whitfield photo)
PHILIPSBURG--Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Tuesday assured that the new interim government will honour all agreements in place, including that for the reconstruction of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
“In no way can anyone feel that this is not a priority for this government,” she made clear. “As we move on, we will honour all agreements – the elections and all the other agreements. We have agreed to that with the formation assignment and all the members sitting before you have agreed to take this country to the next level. That is our priority.”
She gave the assurance during the constituting meeting held between the newly sworn-in ministers and Governor Eugene Holiday.
“We do know the seriousness of the reconstruction and rehabilitation [of St. Maarten – Ed.] and we have agreed to prioritize and recognize the importance of the agreements already made, especially as it comes to rehabilitating the country and especially the airport,” Jacobs stressed.
Following the constituting meeting, the Council of Ministers met with the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) and the management of the airport to get an update on the trust fund and the airport. The meeting was held at the request of the new government. “This was done at our request in earnest to get to the bottom of and finalise this situation,” she said, adding that the Council of Ministers will also visit the airport on Wednesday afternoon to witness first-hand the progress made thus far.
The weekly Council of Ministers press briefings will continue, with the first one for the new cabinet being held at 10:00am today, during which the various ministers will give a short introduction to themselves, indicate their priorities and be open for questions from the media.
The finalization of the draft 2020 budget is also a priority of the new government.
She commented on the fact that many of the ministers are young. “I believe that the youth represented here are the voice of St. Maarten and we expect that though it is an interim government, which we have formed under circumstances that we have agreed to knowing that St. Maarten is in trying times and has been going through very difficult challenges, we believe that with the right mindset and with a heart for country we will persevere. Despite all obstacles, we will be successful in achieving the goals that have been set forth in the agreement made in the formation assignment,” Jacobs noted.
Governor Eugene Holiday and members of the new government at the Constituting Meeting after the swearing-in on Tuesday. (Dimetri Whitfield photo)
~ Stresses importance of finalising urgent matters ~
PHILIPSBURG--Governor Eugene Holiday on Tuesday urged the newly-sworn-in Council of Ministers to use their oath as a guide in the fulfilment of their duties.
St. Maarten Academy
CUL DE SAC--Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE) was forced to take several cost-reducing measures to make up for the subsidy reduction for its two St. Maarten Academy schools.
OPCs working in Oyster Pond.
MARIGOT--Oyster Pond residents have complained again about so-called off-premises consultants (OPCs) working on behalf of timeshare resorts in Oyster Pond.
From left: Eduardo A. de Kort, Glen Carty and Percy Virginia.
PHILIPSBURG--The managements of Banco di Caribe NV and Social and Health Insurances SZV recently signed a financing agreement, bringing Banco di Caribe into the loan consortium which supports the construction of the new St. Maarten General Hospital.
PHILIPSBURG--Social and youth activist Angelique Romou has left the United Democrats (UD) and United People’s (UP) party and will be contesting the 2020 snap parliamentary elections as the number ten candidate on the National Alliance (NA) list.
The signing of an agreement between Social and Health Insurances SZV and Banco di Caribe (see related story) is an interesting development. The Curaçao-based bank increased its share in financing for the new hospital by more than 50 per cent.
SZV, on the other hand reduced by 5 million Antillean guilders its stake in the venture. Some, including now independent – then UD – Member of Parliament (MP) Dr. Luc Mercelina, had strongly questioned the collective insurer’s participation, going as far as calling it a conflict of interest role in terms of rates to be set for the medical facility.
The move also indicates that a major Dutch Caribbean financial institution continues to have confidence in the project, despite criticism from within the current coalition that just appointed an interim cabinet. The new hospital was not specifically listed by Governor Eugene Holiday in his task to the at-the-time “formateur” – now Prime Minister – but is certainly part of the agreements made with the Netherlands regarding the financing of the national recovery of St. Maarten that he mentioned.
People should not forget that additional money is coming from the Trust Fund managed by the World Bank to make the new hospital more hurricane-resistant and upgrade the current care at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).The latter has already produced considerable savings in referrals abroad for the same SZV.
Regardless of those improvements, a new hospital is long overdue and badly needed. When it comes to the population’s wellbeing, simply nothing less will do.
Two stories in the newspaper inspire hope that the 550-million-euro Trust Fund made available by the Netherlands to help St. Maarten rebuild from the devastating passage of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 will be used effectively. Over two years later, the complaint that too little is happening too slowly has become the prevailing narrative.
The National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) announced the tender for the salvaging, decommissioning and disposing of around 80 boat wrecks in Simpson Bay Lagoon and Mullet Pond. Supervising the removal of shoreline and shallow water debris is also included.
This project has been long in coming and realistically won’t start until next year, possibly even after the high season. It’s nevertheless important to help revive the marine industry that took a big blow from Irma as well.
The second case is outgoing Finance Minister Perry Geerlings’ proposal to stimulate micro-, small- and medium-size businesses with US $10-15 million in relief subsidy or grant based on loss in turnover in the12 months following Irma compared to the year before. He expects some 2,500 applications, so the impact would certainly be widespread.
One ought to keep in mind that the minister not only has caretaker status but is making this announcement on practically his last day in office and the new interim government being installed today could – understandably – have something to say about the matter. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan and should not be executed.
Take for example draft amendments recently submitted by acting Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith to bring the Electoral Ordinance and Law on the Registration and Financing of Political Parties in line with the Constitution regarding the dissolution of Parliament and calling snap elections. This is something Governor Eugene had also given as task for the transitional cabinet to be presented by “formateur” Silveria Jacobs.
In general, St. Maarten would do well to step away from making political footballs of major issues including the airport, hospital and dump, by embracing what’s ultimately best for the country and its people, regardless of whom that came from. It’s high time to get over the crab mentality.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--Barbados was hit by serious power outages for a second day on Tuesday, forcing schools and some businesses to close and hitting water supplies on the island.
Tropical Storm Sebastien Advisory Number 1
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL202019
1100 AM AST Tue Nov 19 2019
SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 275 MI...445 KM NE OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...45 MPH...75 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNW OR 330 DEGREES AT 8 MPH...13 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1008 MB...29.77 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Sebastien was located near latitude 20.1 North, longitude 58.7 West. Sebastien is moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h). A turn to the north is expected on Wednesday followed by a turn to the northeast and an increase in forward speed Wednesday night.
Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Some slight strengthening is possible over the next day or so. Sebastien is expected to become absorbed by a cold front in a couple of days. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1008 mb (29.77 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
MONTREAL/WINNIPEG--Thousands of workers at Canada's largest railway went on strike for the first time in a decade on Tuesday, disrupting the shipping of commodities and sparking calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to intervene.
KUALA LUMPUR--A former investment banker has raised more than $10 million to expand a startup that helps developing-nation farmers who are using green and ethical methods to earn more by linking them directly with food buyers around the world.
LONDON--British rock band The Who became the first act to receive a paving stone on the Music Walk of Fame in London on Tuesday, in the unveiling of a new cultural attraction that echoes the starry sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.
DAX, France--The ducks on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting a neighbour's complaint that the birds' racket was making their life a misery.
TUCSON, Arizona--An Arizona human rights activist charged with harboring two migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally testified that he told the men he "could not hide them" but let them stay in a building while they recovered from a desert trek.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan--The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday released American and Australian university professors held hostage for more than three years, officials of the three nations said, completing a delayed prisoner swap and raising hopes for a revival of peace talks.
STOCKHOLM--A Swedish prosecutor dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ending the near decade-old case that had sent the anti-secrecy campaigner into hiding in London's Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition.
Although the prosecutor's decision can be appealed, it probably closes the case, which was launched in 2010. The accuser's lawyer said she was studying whether to appeal it.
SIMPSON BAY--Team Island water World skippered by Frits Bus won the first race of the Grant Thornton Keelboat Series Sunday.
Five boats entered the racing class. In addition to Bus and crew on his Melges 24 were Team Island Water World 2, another Melges 24, sailed by local youth sailors and Arthur Banting, Team IGY on Garth Steyn's new J70 "Franny", Kick em Jenny 2, the Melges 32 skippered by Ian Hope-Ross, and Wanna Be, skippered by Joris van den Eynde.
AMSTERDAM- - Georginio Wijnaldum struck a hat-trick as the Netherlands, who had already booked a spot at Euro 2020, eased to a 5-0 victory over Estonia in their final Group C qualifying clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Tuesday.
Fact: It was not that long ago since Hurricane Luis changed the beauty of St. Martin. Subsequent hurricanes up to Hurricane Irma added to the destruction of St. Martin’s beauty.
St. Martin’s principal source of income is tourism. Each island competes for all the visitors coming to the Caribbean by putting on their best face, which brings me to the purpose of this letter. St. Martin needs to do better, as it is not showing its best face to attract tourists and increase its tourist revenues.
It has been over 2 years since Irma hit St. Martin and there have been many efforts to bring St. Martin back to its previous glory, but some of the damage from the hurricane that is so obvious and such an eyesore and a danger hasn’t been touched. I am referring to all the damaged boats pushed on land, boats that have sunk and partially sunk. As tourists leave the airport and travel towards Simpson Bay the island’s beauty is marred by the boat graveyard along the way. As a boater, it gets worse trying to safely navigate the lagoon without hitting some of the wrecks.
I am sure the government has reasons why they haven’t stepped in to address this negative situation, but I am not buying it. Whoever is responsible for cleaning up the boating mess should take action to resolve this problem and contribute to bringing back St. Martin to its former beauty.
I will be eagerly looking for some results.
My parents were both married before and both of them have children from their previous marriages. My mother’s ex-husband had custody of their daughter so I never got to know her very well, but I grew up with my father’s children from his previous marriage and we all are very close.
Now I’m getting married and it’s going to be a very small wedding, just immediate family, including my father’s other children, and a few very close friends. I don’t really want to invite my mother’s other daughter, but I don’t want to upset my mother by leaving her out.
Queenie, what do you say?—Can’t decide
Dear Can’t decide,
Let your mother decide. As the two of you are not close, your half-sister may not choose to attend, and if she does attend it will be only one more person.