PM: historic meeting with Saba and Statia

POSTED: 11/8/12 1:29 PM

St. Maarten – Health care, medical evacuation, the high cost of inter-island air travel, the postal services, the fiber optic cable and the 5 percent turnover tax on exports to Saba and Statia were the main points of discussion in a meeting of island-representatives with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams yesterday at the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall in the government administration building.

Wescot-Williams considers the meeting a historic one because it is the first of its kind since the constitutional change on 10-10-10. “It is impossible not to consider our close history and our family ties in our relations with Saba and Statia. We will work towards a better cooperation between all parties. Let us use this historic meeting to start moving towards that realization,” the PM said.

The high landing fees for medical evacuation helicopter that is stationed on Statia and serves both islands is a sore point for the two small islands. Representatives also pushed for backup service by Winair, but the airline does not have a permit to execute medical evacuations.

Wescot-Williams said that the high air fare is a matter to be discussed with the Netherlands. “They should consider subsidizing the transportation between the islands, the way they subsidize public transportation in the Netherlands.”

Daily some twenty patients from Saba and Statia travel to St. Maarten for medical care. The islands are concerned about the recent developments at the St. Maarten Medical Center. “The government is looking at all angles to solve the problems with the services offered to St. Maarteners and to the residents of our sister islands,” Wescot-Williams said.

The PM said that she would bring up other issues like the postal services, the use of the fiber optic cable and the turnover tax currently charged on exports to the islands with the relevant ministers.

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