MP Laville presents agreement with Dominica: Cheap cooking gas, and grants for local studentsPOSTED: 03/31/14 11:20 PM
St. Maarten – Independent MP Romain Laville presented a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of St. Maarten and the Commonwealth of Dominica to the media yesterday morning at a press briefing in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall that explores opportunities for collaboration in the fields of tourism, aviation, education and agriculture. The memorandum still requires the approval of the Council of Ministers, but Laville’s appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Ted Richardson was present at the MP’s presentation.
Part of the tentative deal is the import of cooking gas from Venezuela’s Petro Caribe through Dominica to St. Maarten. According to Laville, a small cylinder of cooking gas currently trades for around $30 in St. Maarten, while in Dominica the price hovers around $11. Importing this gas to St. Maarten could therefore contribute to: putting warm meals on the table,” as the MP expressed it.
St. Maarten students who want to enroll at the Dominica State College will get special in-state tuition fees under the agreement. Laville said that a typical tuition fee for a study in the United States hovers around $15,000, while those fees in Dominica are only $2,000.
Thought this does not appear from the draft memorandum, Laville said that Dominica has agreed to grant five scholarships to St. Maarten students per year – one for nursing, two for business, and two for agriculture.
On St. Maarten’s end, the country is supposed to explore joint tourism marketing, facilitate an information desk for discover the Discover Dominica Tourism authority at the airport and set up warehouse facilities for receiving and distributing water and fresh produce from Dominica.
St. Maarten would also commit itself to sharing annual statistical information about the number of Dominicans that visit St. Maarten.
Asked about this statistical information, Minister Ted Richardson said that TSIS – the Tourism Statistical Information System – would become operational “before the elections.” TSIS has been haunted by differences of opinion between the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs and the Justice Ministry about the information in the system. Justice wants its immigration information protected, while Tourism wants to use its statistical information for marketing purposes; it also wants to make this information commercially available to third parties. Earlier, Richardson said that TSIS would become operational by the end of January – a deadline long passed.