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Slob pledges to step up efforts to cut ‘unacceptable’ school absence

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Around 4,000 children missed at least three months of school last year despite efforts by the government to tackle the causes of long-term absence.

The number of so-called ‘thuiszitters‘ was roughly the same in 2016/17 as in the previous academic year. Around 1700 children were not registered with a school at all. Education minister Arie Slob said the trend was ‘not acceptable’.

‘Children who don’t go to school can fall behind in their education, but also miss out on making friends,’ he said. Two years ago former children’s ombudsman Marc Dullaert was given the job of enacting an agreement between the government, education authorities and municipalities to improve the system for reducing school absence.

Dullaert said youth care and education services needed to work more closely together to identify children at risk of missing school. School absence is often linked to domestic problems such as an acrimonious divorce.

The current government has extended Dullaert’s term by six months. Slob said he also wanted to change the system for exempting children from school, which is currently the responsibility of family doctors.

The minister said schools and local authorities should be involved in the process. ‘That would help doctors making the decision because they don’t always have a good picture of the available options to tailor the schooling for the pupil.’ (DutchNews)

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Termination of employment. A reduced tax rate

PHILIPSBURG - The year 2018 is a year in which unfortunately many companies will be terminating their engagement with employees due to business permanent disruption, Benjamin & Parker said in a press statement.

“In such case the possibility exists for the employee to be subjected to a reduced tax rate on their termination payout.

“Fact is that the employer or employee can initiate proceeding with the tax office and request a special rate related to the final termination of the employee.

“The Tax office at their turn contemplates a study and makes a ruling in writing to instruct the payroll tax agent (Employer) on how much tax should be deducted over that last compensation.

“The employee also will receive a copy of the ruling in order to attach this to the tax returns as the evidence to avoid additional taxations over the portion of his income that was subjected to a lower taxation rate.

“The difference can vary between 10-15% depending on the magnitude of the last pay out, which represents a couple hundred or thousand dollars.

“The termination pay in the law is outlined as following: from 1 -10 years =1 week salary per year; from 11-20 years =1.25 week salary per year; from 20 years go up is 2 weeks’ salary per year.

“A person with 15 years would be paid out: first 10 years = 10 weeks and from 11-15 = 5 years at 1.25 x the week salary.

“Should you have any questions on the subject please refer emails to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” said Benjamin & Parker on Monday in a press statement.

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Di Anointed Vale’s new single shoots to #1 on Top Ten charts in UK, Nigeria

SINT MAARTEN/ST. KITTS - JIFE Music recording artist Di Anointed Vale released a new single recently entitled “Save Me From Me” which is getting rave reviews and airplay around the world.

The song, an authentic reggae track with a sound biblical message, has been well received, as it speaks to a poignant spiritual subject. In the song, Vale addresses his desire to do good, but is struggling with his sinful nature that desires to do wrong.

The subject is a direct reflection from Romans Chapter 7 in the Bible, which speaks to the same struggle. Within a few days after its release, the single found its way to number 1 on the gospel music charts in Nigeria and the UK on Salt FM. Vale is amazed and pleased with the reaction to the song.

“The song was released on Feb. 3rd and the following week I realized that the song was nominated to be among other songs in Nigeria and the UK for the SALT FM top 10 Chart. That really caught my attention and to know that eight days after releasing, the song came out at number one on the top ten chart,” Vale said in a press release issued by JIFE Music on Monday.

“I say to God be all the glory and praise he has again done great things. Big up the JIFE MUSIC team for the hard work to make the ministry of Vale alive over the years,” he added.

The song is on the Island Trip Riddim, produced by Strange Records from Nassau, Bahamas. Save Me From Me can be heard at all digital music outlets including Itunes, Spotify and Deezer, among others. The lyric video is also on Di Anointed Vale’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel.

The song’s release follows on the heel of his highly successful single Eternal Love which was released last year and the music video that followed. That video was shot in St. Maarten last summer and directed and produced by SnapIt Studios in St. Maarten. Vale is currently in Guyana where he is conducting his Blood A Jesus Tour continuing from last year.

The tour to promote his debut album Blood A Jesus, has been to St. Maarten, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Jamaica and now Guyana. Vale and JIFE Music plan to take the tour back to the US this summer and looking to expand to other countries throughout this year.

JIFE Music is a gospel music record label based in St. Kitts and Nevis. JIFE is an acronym for Jesus is for everyone and has as its mission statement to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through music.

The label artist roster comprises Vale, D’ Furnace from Trinidad and Tobago, Nyquan, Tehillah and Dominic Brookes all from St. Kitts and Nevis. JIFE Music began with a shared vision by four entrepreneurs in St. Kitts and Nevis: Andre Huie, Roy Nisbett, Lester Henry and Jermaine Willock, each with some experience in performing, producing and presenting gospel music.

JIFE Music is a subsidiary of Palm Branch Media, a media production company headquartered at Central Market Street, Basseterre St. Kitts.

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Work Opportunities to be presented at Stakeholder Vector Program Meeting on Tuesday

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – During the Tuesday evening information exchange session regarding the prevention of mosquito borne diseases, work opportunities with the vector program will also be shared.

Interested persons, business owners, community councils/leaders, institutions and organizations, are reminded to mark their calendar to attend the “Community Stakeholders Meeting for Health, Recovery & Development,” on February 20 about mosquito borne diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

The community stakeholders meeting will take place in the Conference Room at the Government Administration Building from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

The opportunity is being provided for community stakeholders to share their views regarding the recovery and development of Sint Maarten.  The meeting is also relevant for healthcare providers, agriculturists/farmers, contractors, travel agencies, tourism and hospitality sector businesses, the media, garbage contractors/collectors, pest exterminators, and tire repair shops and garages.

This first information meeting seeks to get feedback from citizens, businesses, industry professionals, organizations, community councils, and officials on how best to provide immediate critical support for vector programs.

The objective is to work to reduce current and future public health threats in local communities; maximizing positive citizen behavior and participation; supporting underserved communities; and providing collaborative and independent support.

The stakeholders meeting is a collaborative effort of the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) from the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, and VectorStars.

Persons, businesses and organizations can also provide written feedback and suggestions via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 15, 2018.  Feedback may be submitted also in hard copy to the offices of CPS at the W.G. Buncamper Road #33, Vineyard Building Office Park.

For additional information, you can call: 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 or 542-1570. 

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Community Mobile Dental Consultations available on Tuesday

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Community dental care will be available from the mobile dental bus on Tuesday, February 20 from 2.00pm to 4.30pm at the Vineyard Office Park in Philipsburg where Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is located.

Due to the satisfactory turnout last week where the dentist treated 26 persons, CPS Dental Program Coordinators have decided to hold another consultation.

Dentist Hilda Guevara will be volunteering her time to carry out the consultations.

Dental caries or cavities can be prevented by avoiding dietary free sugars. Moreover, dental caries is largely preventable through simple and cost-effective population-wide and individual interventions, whereas treatment is costly, and is often unavailable in low- and middle-income countries.

Severe dental caries can impair quality of life. For example, dental caries may cause difficulties in eating and sleeping, and in its advanced stages (abscesses), it may result in pain and chronic systemic infection.

Dental caries is also associated with adverse growth patterns. Further, tooth decay is a frequent cause of absence from school or work.

Use the opportunity on Tuesday to get your teeth checked at the free dental consultation.

For more information call CPS at 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 or 542-1570.

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SMCP: NEGOTIATING A STABLE GOVERNMENT AFTER ELECTIONS

PHILIPSBURG – “One of the most used buzz words in this campaign is the word “Stability”. Even those parties that have been in power since 10-10-10 and whose members wreaked instability in parliament and in government are now advocating the S-word,” Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Wycliffe Smith said on Sunday.

“With these old parties having a track record of ship jumping, changing parliaments and breaking governments, can the electorate really expect them to offer the much needed stability and change that Sint Maarten deserves? Our country needs to be able to move forward in every sector of society?

“But instability has crippled Sint Maarten’s development and progress. Instability has led to no decisions concerning our landfill or the dump. Instability is the cause for the delay in the reconstruction of Sint Maarten post hurricane Irma. Rebooting the economy and the further development of the country are dependent on a stable government.

“Unfortunately, the existing political parties have not been able to offer stability. We have had every possible combination of coalitions but these have all been short-lived. Putting the older parties in parliament again would be an act of insanity, which, according to world-renowned scientist, Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

“Voting for the same old parties and the same old politicians will once again bring the same old result: namely, instability in government.  There is however, an alternative political party. The SMCP is a new and viable party that does not have a political history of ship jumpers, government-breaking and instability.

“Realizing the importance of stability in government, SMCP will make this its number one priority when elected. In the event the voters give SMCP a majority, 8 seats or more, then you can be assured that SMCP will bring the needed stability in parliament and government. But should SMCP get elected as a minority party then we will allow the larger parties to form a coalition. Let it be known that SMCP has no problem functioning as an opposition party because a good functioning opposition in parliament is also extremely important.

“If SMCP is called to be a coalition partner then conditions will be set which SMCP believes will help to guarantee a strong parliament and a stable government.

“In the first place, SMCP will not be pressured into signing a coalition agreement hours after the election results are made known. Secondly, SMCP will insist that the governor follows existing protocols already in place such as appointing an Informateur and a Formateur. The Governor should charge the Informateur to explore the possibility of a national parliamentary coalition in which the MPs from all elected political parties are represented.

“If the MPs agree to a national parliamentary coalition then the next step for the Governor would be to appoint a Formateur who will consult with all the elected parties and their MPs to prepare a national governing program. In addition, these MPs will select the Prime Minister from amongst themselves and together they will select qualified, capable and experienced ministers, ideally not from their political lists, to execute the national governing program.

“In the event the Informateur does not succeed in forming a national parliamentary coalition then he/she will try to achieve a consensus from among the elected political parties that have the best chance of forming a durable parliamentary coalition. The Informateur would look, for example, at the history, philosophy, principles, internal working procedures and protocols of the various parties.

“This would enable him/her to observe compatibilities between parties as well as explore any non-negotiable issues parties may have. Discussions concerning the formation of a coalition should take place in a neutral place, like e.g. the Parliament Building and all the elected MPs must be consulted.

“After the Informateur submits his/her report, the Governor in turn will appoint a Formateur who will work with the coalition parties to prepare the governing program, select the Prime Minister and choose qualified, capable and experienced ministers, ideally not from the political lists, who also can withstand any screening. Ministers are selected jointly by the MPs to reduce the risk of a particular faction or a particular MP laying claim to a minister and saying “that’s my Minister”.

“SMCP will also ensure that the selected Ministers are aware of the governing program and what is required of them prior to their taking office. SMCP will insist that the governing program is presented to parliament and debated in order to give the people insight into what the government plans to do during the upcoming governing period.

“To ensure stability in parliament all of SMCP’s candidates have signed a pledge, included in our Manifesto, not to defect during this parliamentary term. The stability offered by SMCP will result in a strong and steady government, which will enable Sint Maarten to move forward again. Stability will enable government to take decisions to get the reconstruction going, the economy growing and the dump dwindling. Sint Maarten, vote for stability! Vote SMCP,” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party concluded.

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Island Governor Franco meets Statia Reconstruction Team

ST. EUSTATIUS - On Thursday February 15th, Mr. Mike Franco, Island Governor, met with management of Statia Reconstruction Team where he received an update on the housing recovery of St. Eustatius financed by the Dutch Central Government.

Project Manager Mr. Mel Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco and his team provided Mr. Franco with an extensive tour on the site of storage and distribution of building material and other supplies.

On location they provided detailed information regarding the efforts to (re)build almost a 100 projects that needs to be completed before the emerging hurricane season.

The reconstruction project is scheduled to complete all approved projects well before the peak of the 2018 hurricane season.

Cooperation has been sought with several social organizations (‘Mega D Youth Foundation’, ‘New Challenges Foundation’ and ‘Statia Pride’) to carry out several community projects to help beautify and recapture the spirit of Statia in colours.

As Mr. Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco said at earlier meetings: ‘The recovery of this beautiful island comes from the heart.’ More information will be shared within short.

On September 6th and 15th, 2017 St. Eustatius was affected by the ravage of hurricanes Irma and Maria leaving some residents without a roof and others with varying levels of damages to their dwellings.

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Community Councils, Businesses, Organizations and Interested Persons Invited to a Meeting about Mosquito Prevention Measures

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Interested persons, business owners, community councils/leaders, institutions and organizations, are invited to a “Community Stakeholders Meeting for Health, Recovery & Development,” on Tuesday, February 20, to share views with respect to the prevention of mosquito borne diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

The objective is also to rebuild and strengthen normal vector activities and surveillance operations for the benefit of protecting the local citizens and preventing current and future public health challenges as it relates to mosquito borne diseases.

The community stakeholders meeting will take place in the Conference Room at the Government Administration Building from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

The opportunity is being provided for community stakeholders to share their views regarding the recovery and development of Sint Maarten. The meeting is also relevant for healthcare providers, agriculturists/farmers, contractors, travel agencies, tourism and hospitality sector businesses, the media, garbage contractors/collectors, pest exterminators, and tire repair shops and garages.

Everybody has a part to play in building Sint Maarten into a stronger, smarter, and a more collaborative community where it concerns the fight against mosquito borne diseases.    

The stakeholders meeting is a collaborative effort of the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) from the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, and VectorStars.

Persons, businesses and organizations can also provide written feedback and suggestions via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 15, 2018. Feedback may be submitted also in hard copy to the offices of CPS at the W.G. Buncamper Road #33, Vineyard Building Office Park.

For additional information, you can call: 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 or 542-1570.

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New CLA for Central Government workers Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - On November 30th and December 1st ,2017 the employment conditions negotiations for the civil servants started. It was a wish of the unions to have an agreement in time because of the expiring CAO 2016-2017.

Negotiations continued on January 18, 2018 and resulted in a negotiation result. The result was a combination of wishes from the trade unions and the employer. This result has been signed by all four unions and the employer. The agreement has been made that the unions consult their members with a positive advice. It was agreed that the negatiations should continue on February 15th, 2018, so that there was sufficient time for the consultation of the members.

On February 15, 2018 all four trade unions met again with the employer. Three trade unions indicated that their members agreed with the negotiation result. The NAPB requested postponement because they were unable to consult enough members. According to the chairman of the NAPB, he could not agree based upon the reaction of the members present.

The trade unions ABVO, ACOM and WICSU-PSU and the employer point out that the signing is in the interest of all employees (early payment of a salary increase) and the progress of the decentralized consultation (with public entities, education, etc.). Although the NAPB stepped out of the consultation, the three trade unions and the employer signed a legally valid agreement for all employees (including NAPB members).

Despite the employer's insistence, the NAPB decided not to take part in the consultation any further. The three trade unions and the employer regretted the withdrawal of the NAPB, because there are other important topics on the agenda that are also important for their members.

With this terms of employment agreement a salary increase for all civil servants will take place; 2% in 2018 and 1.75% in 2019.

In addition, a long cherished wish of the unions to introduce a thirteenth month has been realized step by step. With this agreement all civil servants will receive a percentage end-of-year bonus of 5% in 2018, 2019 in 6% and 7% in 2020 instead of the current nominal end-of-year bonus of USD 1250.

In addition, the minimum amount compared with the current year-end bonus has increased to USD 1500, so that all civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands have benefitted. The CLA has been negotiated for three years and runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2018 - 2020.

In June 2018, conversations will be held with the State Secretary of the Interior and Kingdom Relations about the life-cycle conscious personnel policy and possible reduction of working hours.

With these measures all civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands benefit from the economic development in European Netherlands. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Budike running in February 26 parliamentary elections

PHILIPSBURG - Robert O. Budike was born on January 30, 1971 in the Netherlands and is working and living on St. Maarten since the year 2000, Budike said in a press statement. Budike is a candidate for the upcoming February 26 parliamentary elections and is running on the slate of the National Alliance (NA).

He completed his VWO and obtained a bachelor’s degree at the University of Applied Economic Science in Rotterdam and has been working in the financial world for the past 25 years in different capacities.

He is the proud owner of PCMI Accounting & Tax Services and PCMI Academy and has been contributing daily to the well-being of the business community and for those who choose to expand their educational tool set as he is also a Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor.

Budike has a wide knowledge of different sectors as he was the Branch Manager of Bureau Ziektekosten Voorziening (BZV), Manager Finances and Operations at the University of St. Maarten and he also serves on the boards of Winair and the Foundation Judicial Institutes of St. Maarten.  As a proponent of lifelong learning he is currently completing his Certified Chartered Accountant and the Certified Fraud Examiner diploma’s. Further his hobbies are football and agriculture.

“Hurricane Irma again has proven to us that our economy is very fragile and St. Maarten is too much depending on only one pillar namely tourism. It is time to upgrade and diversify our economy. Government’s role in this is to act as a facilitator to create fertile soil while the private sector’s role is more to be a creator of economic activities. This fertile soil consists of a political stable climate, good corporate and public governance, transparency & integrity and last but not least a well-educated population as knowledge is recognized as the driver of productivity and economic growth.

“In practice that can mean that we can use some of the Dutch funds to rebuild the small business sector as it is considered the backbone of our economy. The SME’s, as what the abbreviation is, usually provides 60%-70% of the jobs.  However, 80% fails within 3-5 years. The proper application of policies, targeted training and tax instruments can stimulate sustainable entrepreneurship and therefore reduce the failure rate drastically.

“A reliable and a sufficient energy supply are important for the further development and diversification of the economy of St. Maarten. Size will and cannot determine our measure of success once you look at other countries such as Singapore. Smart city concepts will be further explored. In this concept we simply use technologies to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of St. Maarten and we can think at solar energy, technology driven medical services, online tertiary education etc.

“As we are considered a visa card society we need to create and implement policies to increase our share in the revenue stream. They say the money is in the cloud and the N.A. will look for ways how to be ways to better benefit from it. 

“Everyone in St. Maarten that has a fixed job and a decent income should be able to own their own home. We have to stimulate wealth creation for our citizens via a comprehensive package of tax incentives and affordable mortgage interest rates. Once you own a home you can use the equity to invest in real estate or another business. This is in line with our manifesto as the N.A. recognize that
St. Maarten most valuable assets is its people. It is essential that our people benefits along with our economy.

“When elected I will champion the following causes: Stimulation of the Micro-Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) through tax and non-tax incentives as the MSME’s are the backbone of our economy. The further development of this sector goes hand in hand with a reliable and affordable supply of electricity; Social-Historical Development of St. Maarten: “Make Great Salt Pond Great Again” to increase the yield of the tourists by replicating the history of the Great Salt Pond and showcasing our culture on the shores through cuisine, arts & craft, dance, music and  literature.

“Increase in disposable income by stimulating the local supply of agriculture products, a set tax allowance for Day Care and After School Programs, introduction of paying electricity as you go and stimulating ABCD CO-OP’s (Asset Based Community Development) to purchase non-perishable goods in bulk for the less fortunate. Further the stimulation of home ownership by increasing the mortgage deduction and a decreased declaration of rental income in the Income Tax; Diversification of the economy by using our unique language diversity itself (call centers), development of the financial and banking sector, developing of a knowledge based society and undertake initiatives to benefit from the virtual economy.”

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