Wednesday , November 30 2022

Saba and Statia discuss common goals with St Maarten

St Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot- Williams recently met with delegates from Saba and St. Eustatius to discuss common concerns and interests, including health care, emergency medical evacuation and the high airfare levied by Windward Islands Airways International Winair. Saba and Statia representatives raised the issue of the current medical evacuation (medivac). A helicopter stationed on St. Eustatius is used by both islands. They also had issues with the landing fees on St. Maarten, among other issues related to the medivac helicopter. Permitting Winair to act as a back-up medical evacuation platform was also discussed. Winair does not have the proper permits to operate medical evacuation flights. As prime minister and Winair shareholder representative, Wescot- Williams said, “I can say that we will definitely look at all angles, making sure that the service is provided to Saba and Statia, but also that the interests of St. Maarten are accounted for.”

A tri-partite committee will be set up to look into the expensive airfares levied by Winair for flights among the islands. “I acknowledge that airfare is quite expensive and … is considerably high for transportation between neighbouring islands. We need to sit at the table and discuss what can be done, particularly with regards to The Netherlands, who should consider subsidizing the transportation between the islands, much like the subsidized public transportation in The Netherlands.”

Some twenty patients daily travel from Statia and Saba to St. Maarten for medical care. Considering the recent developments at the medical centre, the delegations had concerns about the offering of health services to patients from Saba and St. Eustatius. The Prime Minister acknowledged the current issues at SMMC. “Government is trying its utmost to solve the issues which are now at St. Maarten Medical Center. Government is looking at all avenues available to come to a consensus and to solve the problem with regards to the services offered to not only St. Maarteners, but also to the residents of our sister islands.”

Two additional issues dealt with were the cooperation of the Postal Service, the landing of the fibre optic cable and the five per cent Turnover Tax levied on St. Maarten. On the fibre optic cable, Wescot-Williams will discuss this with the relevant ministry and departments. She said some type of mutual agreement has been reached on this matter and hopes same can occur with the Postal Service cooperation. She deemed the meeting as “historic”, since it was the first time since the constitutional changes of October 10, 2010. Despite the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, St. Maarten still has close ties with Saba and St. Eustatius.

Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-11-08

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