SXM Local News: Flight Schedule Update, Dutch Relief Funding Deadline Closing In on Sint Maarten

Flight schedules have been changing rapidly when it comes to future service to Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport. Because of that, we’ll be providing updates every week, sometimes two or more times, in an effort to keep you locked in with the most current information.

Today’s update is as of October 29, 2017 and can be found on the SXM Strong Flight and Travel Information page. There’s also a permanent link to the page on our main menu. Be sure to check back frequently and if there’s something that you have a question about you can send us a message through this link.

Dutch deadline approaches

By now, most people have heard about the deadline the Dutch government have imposed on Sint Maarten to accept their conditions or risk losing Dutch relief funding. If you haven’t heard, the gist is simple. The government of Sint Maarten must agree to the establishment of an Integrity Chamber to, among other things, oversee the disbursement of Dutch funding to help the island rebuild. The Dutch also want to impose stricter border controls between the French and Dutch sides of the island.

If you’re just hearing about this for the first time you may be wondering ‘so, what’s the hold up’? Many people are asking the same question. We took a deeper look at the financial situation on the island, and the need for relief funding, after the government of Sint Maarten released their first draft of the National Recovery Plan. Bottom line is that Sint Maarten needs help from the Dutch and the fact that the current government are digging in against the Kingdom of the Netherlands speaks far more about the troubling political situation on the island than it does of anything else.

The Dutch have issued a deadline of October 31 for the Sint Maarten government to approve the conditions or they will lose funding. This is like playing a game of chicken against a bulldozer, except the ones that stand to lose the most — the less fortunate people in the hardest hit parts of the island — have no control over the situation.

Yesterday, the President of Sint Maarten Parliament, Sarah Wescot-Williams, took a firm stand in support of accepting the Dutch conditions even as Prime Minister Marlin continued to be willing to let the Dutch deadline come and go.

Speaking about the upcoming deadline (Daily Herald), Wescot-Williams stated, “We take the stand that it is urgent that since we do not have our own disaster aid funding, help is needed. We cannot risk Dutch aid being tied up without an alternative. Despite the talks, no tangible alternative has been presented to us.”

So, while it appears that the majority of the members of Parliament support this game of chicken, perhaps the sensibility of Wescot-Williams will prevail. With the deadline coming tomorrow, on Halloween, we’ll indeed find out if the solution will be a trick or treat.

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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