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NA: Tax Law Meeting stalled due to boycott and Lack of Interest of the Coalition

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Minister of Finance, Perry Geerlings, was present in the house of Parliament on March 24th, 2019 to continue deliberations on the amendment of the National Ordinance on National Taxes in connection with international obligations, that was adjourned since March 8th, 2019, the National Alliance (NA) parliamentary faction said in a press statement on Friday evening. 

“It was however quite interesting to observe the apparent lack of interest from the coalition members of Parliament, who support Minister Geerlings, was quite evident as only three (3) of those MPs were present at the start of the meeting. This caused the Chairlady of Parliament, upon opening the gathering, to start the postponement procedure of the meeting due to a lack of quorum. The chairlady was already into her explanations, when a fourth member of the coalition entered the Legislative Hall and signed in.

“The Chairlady then proceeded to announce that there was indeed a quorum at the last minute and decided to open the meeting. 

“After opening remarks and announcements, the Chairlady explained that the Public Meeting would not be able to go ahead because of the fact that it is the start of the second round of the meeting, in which she had taken the floor to speak to the topic in the first round. Because of this, MP Wescott Wililams would not be able to chair the meeting for as long as the particular topic is on the agenda. 

“The Chairlady only announced this after MPs of the opposition checked the speakers’ list from the first round and saw that she had spoken to the topic in that round. This made them wonder if the Chairlady would have broken the Rules of Order by chairing the meeting knowing full well that 2nd Vice Chair Peterson had sent notice of absence.    

“As is customary in a case like this, a Vice Chairperson of Parliament would chair the meeting. However, there is currently no first Vice Chairperson and the second Vice Chairman was absent with notice. Member of Parliament and second Vice Chair Claude Peterson was absent, although his presence was key to the continuation and safeguarding of today’s meeting and avoiding another embarrassment for the Parliament. This shows a blatant lack of competence by the MP to handle his responsibilities in Parliament as Faction Leader and Second Vice Chairperson of Parliament.

“Members of Parliament of the National Alliance faction wondered what precedent was being set by the chairlady, by allowing a “meeting” to be opened even though she was not allowed to Chair it, and even though there was no quorum at the time that the gathering had begun 30 minutes after the scheduled time. 

“Article 35:1 of the Rules of Order clearly states: ‘If half an hour after the time for which the meeting is scheduled, the required number of members are not present, the President opens the gathering. The President mentions any incoming notices of absence of the absent members. He/She has the names of all MP’s read, whereby those present confirm their presence, and proceeds by determining that the required number of members present is or is not sufficient according to the rules for debating and taking decisions. A report is made hereof.’

“Based on the lack of interest and what appears to be a boycott by the coalition to such an important meeting, the National Alliance faction questions if there is indeed a lack of support within the coalition for this law.

“According to the National Alliance faction it is also troubling to note that the MP Wescott Williams would open a public meeting which she knows cannot legally occur; a postponement would have been a wiser decision.”

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Thursday Morning Robbery at Mr. K Supermarket Under Investigation

PHILIPSBURG - The investigating officers of KPSM (Sint Maarten Police Force) are currently busy investigating a robbery which took place yesterday, 23rd May, at approximately 11:30 am at Mr. K supermarket, police said in a statement on Friday.

A man dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt covering his head entered the supermarket armed with a weapon to rob the shop. The suspect then fled on foot in the vicinity of the Guana Bay area.

Based on information received a home search was conducted at a home in the Guana Bay area. The information indicated that the suspect may have been in the home; at which point necessary force was required to open the door to the home.

The owner of the home was contacted and came to the station; an agreement was made to have the damages to the door sorted out. This investigation is currently still ongoing. (Sint Maarten Police Force)                                                                                                    

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Hurricane Pass Application Process Starts May 24

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The application process for the annual Hurricane Passes for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season which starts June 1 and runs through November 30, commences on Friday, May 24.

There are two types of passes, the Disaster Pass and the Hurricane Pass.  No passes will be issued to business owners, only with some exemption categories as noted below.

The pass allows the bearer to access the public road to visit the place of business to assess possible damage to the property.  No company passes will be accepted during curfew hours.  This can only take place during certain hours that will be stipulated and announced by the Prime Minister in a curfew situation.

Potential applicants have until June 21 to present all relevant information related to the process of requesting a pass.

Disaster Passes are issued to the following crucial disaster relief organizations and are valid for three years.  The disaster relief organization consists of the following: Emergency Operations Center staff, Emergency Support Services staff, Crucial governmental organizations and entities involved in disaster management such as medical institutions, general practitioners and pharmacies, Red Cross, WIEMS, White & Yellow Cross, National Security Service VDSM, Sea Rescue, Shelter Management, Ministers and their drivers.

The following categories qualify for a Hurricane Pass which is valid for two-years: Essential Government personnel without a disaster pass; Essential personnel of crucial companies or organizations: NV GEBE, Seven Seas Water, Telecom and Internet providers, Princess Juliana International Airport, Port St. Maarten, Hotels and Guesthouses, Marinas, Fuel distributors and gas stations, Commercial banks, Medium and large sized supermarkets, Restaurants (those providing food services to emergency services), Importers and Wholesale Companies for perishable goods (Only requests can be submitted for refrigeration and or generator technicians).

The crucial organizations as listed above (disaster & hurricane passes) can request personal passes for their key personnel.

The Office of Disaster Management that falls under the Ministry of General Affairs is handling the application process for the passes on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The Hurricane Pass is valid for the 2019 and 2020 hurricane seasons and will remain the property of the Government of Sint Maarten.

Please note that no company passes will be accepted during curfew hours.

The pass system is a mechanism to maintain public order during emergency situations.  The Prime Minister assesses the damage in conjunction with Emergency Disaster Management entities of the Government after a disaster has occurred and can impose a curfew if the extent of the damage poses a threat to the safety and security of the community.

An application form can be requested by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Emails should include the following: Name of organization; Request for disaster or hurricane pass.

When submitting the application the following documents need to be attached:

-         copy business license fee paid (or receipt) for 2018/19;

-         proof of 2019 registration at the Chamber of Commerce;

-         copy valid Sint Maarten ID-card of applicant;

-         Nafl. 50,- in leges stamps per application (to be obtained at the Receiver’s Office or the Simpson Bay Public Service Center), this is a non-refundable handling fee;

-         One (1) passport picture for new applicants.

The application form has to be completed and submitted to the offices of the Fire Department & Disaster Management, to the attention of the secretary located at Jackal Road 5 (Office hours Monday-Friday 9.00AM to 4.00PM), Cay Hill, by June 21, 2019, with all necessary documents attached.

Applicants will be informed by email or telephone when to pick up the pass at the aforementioned address.

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Sint Maarten will lead in three areas of Public Health development with Kingdom partners

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Health Emil Lee announced three main areas of Public Health development where Sint Maarten will take the lead as part of the collaboration established with the Public Health Ministers of Curacao and Aruba and State Secretary of Health of the Netherlands.

Lead areas for Sint Maarten include Disaster & Crisis Management, Medical Waste Management and Data sharing and Benchmarking. In an administrative meeting that took place on May 16 in Bonaire, the parties were able to establish several areas of collaboration within the countries. The collaboration agreement between the countries for Public Health enables all countries to strengthen its own capacity and as a result be able to provide better support to each other in the various areas.

As it pertains to Disaster and Crisis Management, the scope of the collaboration includes assessing the plans for patient and casualty distribution in the Caribbean and Psychosocial care after crises & disasters. Within this scope, steps will be established in each country that ensure that reasonable prices for logistics such as hotels, transportation and medical tariffs are maintained in times of crisis and disasters.

Medical Waste Management poses a problem for Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten. A workgroup led by Sint Maarten will be committed to mapping out the issues surrounding medical waste. Most recent the St. Maarten Medical Center has been challenged with the issue. Sint Maarten is now also in the process of coming to a solution for the Dump Management.   

The development of Health care data management systems will enable countries to start sharing and exchanging data for benchmarking purposes. Examples include the benchmarking of reinfection rates across the hospitals and reduction methods implemented in protocols. Sint Maarten will lead a workgroup to analyze the use of different systems.

Other topics of agreement include Implementation of the International Health Regulations, Health in all policies, Curative care; namely collaboration between hospitals, inspectorates and health insurers, and pharmaceuticals, Mental Health care and Medical Professionals; countries working together on a quality framework and exchange of doctors based on unified criteria.

The Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten was represented in the third administrative meeting by: Mr. Paul Blokhuis, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport (the Netherlands), Mr. Danguillaume P. Oduber, Minister of Tourism, Public Health and Sport (Aruba),  Mrs. M. Suzanne FC Camelia- Römer, Minister of Health, Environment and Nature (Curaçao) and Mr. Emil Lee, Minister for Health, Social Development and Labor (Sint Maarten)

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Sint Maarten represented at the 8th US-Caribbean Security Cooperation Dialogue

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Acting Head of the National Security Service of Sint Maarten Mr. Jerome Beeldsnijder, represented Sint Maarten on behalf of the Ministry of Justice at the 8th US-Caribbean Security Cooperation Dialogue held in Washington DC last week on Thursday May 16th.

The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and CARICOM IMPACS (Implementing Agency for Crime and Security) the security directorate for CARICOM were the two main topics during the event. Other topics of interest discussed in relation to National Security and security awareness were;

  • Cyber and Cybersecurity Issues
  • Telecommunications Issues
  • Digital media and Crime
  • Countering Violent Extremism / Social Media
  • Border security & Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS)
  • Regional Cooperation
  • Information Sharing
  • Maritime Interdiction
  • Emerging Threats
  • Trends & Best Practices

The main outcome of the eighth US-Caribbean security cooperation dialogue was to financially empower CARICOM IMPACS and to have them enhance the (cyber) security awareness in countries governments and societies.

Below is a short excerpt of the final agreement; that is also available online https://www.state.gov/caribbean-united-states-security-cooperation-dialogue/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08M645hHs5M

“We, the Governments of the Caribbean States and the United States of America have gathered in Washington, D.C., on the Tenth (10th) Anniversary of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), hereby REAFFIRM the CBSI Partnership launched on April 17, 2009 at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

AGREE to the enhanced CBSI objectives of reducing illicit trafficking, increasing safety and security, and preventing youth crime and violence.

DEEPEN the coordination, cooperation and sustainability of our joint efforts among the United States of America, Caribbean States, and international partners to more effectively address the security challenges in the Caribbean and ensure the monitoring and evaluation of program implementation for effective results;

REAFFIRM the commitments and outcomes of the Ministerial on the U.S. Caribbean Resilience Partnership held in Miami on April 12, 2019 and the continued cooperation on disaster preparedness and resilience.”

The countries pledged to continue to advance critical efforts aimed at increasing the security and safety of their respective citizens, reduction in illicit trafficking, prevention of youth crime and violence. Additionally the aim is to establish a stronger security partnership for the future.

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Minister Lee: Residents struggle to get medical insurance

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health Emil Lee acknowledged that residents continue to struggle to get access to medical insurance. According to Minister Lee, the biggest challenge is the legislation for the social and health insurances, which is executed by SZV. Residents, who do not meet the requirements of the law for SZV medical coverage, may turn to private insurance as an option.

However, only a limited few may be able to afford private insurance. Minister Lee stated that the proposed General Health Insurance (GHI) ordinance, would be a positive improvement for residents now faced with denials by SZV for medical insurance, or those excluded because of preexisting conditions.”

“I was recently informed of 30 persons who do not have access to medical care because they were denied by SZV. This is not uncommon news, but we must not forget that SZV is an executing agency that implements the law. If a person does not qualify based on the law; that is the decision of the law and not SZV. To solve this the law needs to be changed. Residents should have access to affordable health care.”

The current legislation on social and health insurance which is managed by the SZV was established in 1966. The objectives of this law are to cover costs of curative care. Minister Lee stated that the proposed GHI legislation includes preventive care, which would be one of the added benefits of a law change. The present lack of preventive care is part of the problem that causes an increase in long-term medical costs. Some actions that are being considered with the change include screening for early detection of diseases and promoting healthy living.

“As we continue the conversations surrounding GHI, let us first agree that access to care is a fundamental right and once agreed we should work to eliminate the barriers to accessing affordable, quality health care.” 

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Dutch get tough on sex without consent, sexual intimidation online

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch government plans to bring in new legislation which will make having sex with someone against their will, and which does not involve violence, a crime.

While rape and sexual assault are already on the statute books, the new legislation will make it illegal to have sex with someone while knowing they are unwilling. If in doubt, people should check with their partner that they consent, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs in a briefing.

‘No means no, but no “no” does not necessarily mean “yes”,’ Grapperhaus said. The #metoo movement shows how widespread sexually unacceptable behaviour has become, and that the current legislation is not always properly equipped to deal with it, the minister said.

In some cases, rape and sexual assault charges are dropped because the victim has frozen and is unable to defend themselves, or because no violence is involved. This legislation, the minister said, will make it possible to prosecute sex without consent as well as sex involving force.

The legislation will also make sexual intimidation online and in public a criminal offence. ‘Insults, humiliation and physical groping is not normal behaviour,’ Grapperhaus said. Rotterdam and Amsterdam have already incorporated rules against street intimidation into their bylaws.

In the coming months, Grapperhaus said he will research how the new law can best be implemented and policed and definitive legislation will be drawn up by the end of the year.

(DutchNews)

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STATIA GOVERNMENT SIGNS MOU TO ESTABLISH ADDITIONAL SOCIAL HOUSING

SINT EUSTATIUS - Government Commissioner responsible for Housing, Marcolino Franco, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday, May 17th, with Dutch Housing Association, Woonlinie together and the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations to start a pilot for the improvement of social housing on St. Eustatius.

The Public Entity of St. Eustatius envisions providing quality and affordable social housing and increasing the existing social housing inventory in order to meet the demand. The ultimate goal is to construct a minimum of five homes annually until there are about 50 new low-income homes on St. Eustatius and until all 95 existing homes of St. Eustatius Housing Foundation (SHF) have been renovated.

The Public Entity wants to achieve this goal by starting the first pilot to renovate an existing home and construct two new homes in Golden Rock. By starting a pilot between the Public Entity of St. Eustatius in collaboration with Statia Housing Foundation (SHF), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and Woonlinie, all parties are able to explore future possibilities for further cooperation.

The current stock of social housing on St. Eustatius is in urgent need of repair and upgrading and there are too little affordable houses. The St. Eustatius Housing Foundation nor the Public Entity are in the position to fund on the renovation and expansion their own, due to limited resources. A major advantage is that both Woonlinie and BZK will invest the monies in the construction of new social housing and in the renovation of existing homes.

Without this agreement, this much needed investment would not have been possible. The big advantage for the current tenants is that the lease contracts will remain unchanged. Therefore, the tenants will experience improved living conditions for their rent. The pilot entails the renovation of one dwelling and the construction of two new homes on a vacant lot in Golden Rock, which will serve for a short time as a model for the tenants to see firsthand what the newly renovated and constructed homes will look like.

During the renovation and construction of the homes, Woonlinie will work with one main contractor and with local contractors as much as possible. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Public Entity of St. Eustatius believe it is important to have a subsidy for those persons who cannot afford to cover the costs of rents due to a relatively low income.

The Ministry is working together with the local government on a system that provides for housing benefits (subsidy) in the future. The local government is also working with the Ministry on a new rental price regulation. Part of this rental price regulation is the possibility of introducing a rental point system.

In this context, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has done a survey in April of this year. The results will be used for a system of rental price regulation. The first results of this pilot project will be visible in the fourth quarter of 2019/or the first quarter of 2020. If the pilot is a success, all 95 social houses will be renovated and approximately 50 new houses will be built. (GIS St. Eustatius)

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Two injured during Armed robbery on Sunday

SINT PETERS - Detectives of the Special Unit Robbery are presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Sunday May 19th at approximately 01.30 a.m. on the Sint Peters road in the vicinity of TESCO Supermarket, police said on Sunday.

The police patrol that was sent to investigate what had taken place encountered the four victims for the robbery.

According to the statements all four men were on their way home after leaving the house of a friend where they had a few drinks. While heading towards their home on the L.B. Scot road they were attacked by four men riding on two scooters.

These men had their faces covered. One of the robbers pulled a gun and aimed it at them while the other robber held a knife in his hand. They forced the victims to hand over their money. The victim told the robbers they had no money at which time the robber with the gun struck one of the victims with the butt of the gun in his head. The robber with the knife stabbed another victim in one of his legs.

Their money and cellular telephones were stolen from them. After committing this act the suspects jump back onto the scooters and fled the scene. The two injured victims were treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Centre for further treatment. All four victims are of South American descent. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Where is your mental maturity?

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN (By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert) - The older I get, the more I start asking why and I start questioning all the answers. Maybe it’s a remnant of the child in me. When children are getting to the age of three, they start asking questions. It heralds a sudden upsurge in their intellectual development. The very youngest will simply accept that things are the way they are, like mother milk. Past that certain age the child with a greater degree of mental maturity will want to know why. You are an adult, where do you stand? Do you estimate that you have mental maturity enough to stop asking questions? Wow, I got you there!

At the age of around three, the process of "individuation" occurs. Children begin to become aware of themselves as individuals and start to see the gap between how the world is and how they want it to be. I bet that most of you still see the gap, but what are you doing about it? Be honest with yourself; most likely nothing! You need to do what you need to do and not what you want to do, and that's how life continues to run smoothly. Right? Is that your way or his/her way? Okay, have it either way if that satisfies you. You see? That is where Individuation comes in, and it applies to our private life just as much as to business and even industry. Or…, one could just go by the option that what seems to be is better than nothing.

Most of what we do is a bunch of nonsense!

“Why” is not simply about curiosity. It is about asking for a reason. Ask the why-question to people in any kind of activity. Most likely you’ll get the answer that they were told to do so or have always done it that way. However often the “Answer” to the “Why” is more like “Rocks are hard and water is wet”. People really start slipping and sliding with their responses, when more why-questions are coming thick and fast, and go on like a broken record of whys. One is becoming subject to be considered a nuisance. Who wants to be a nuisance? So, that’s where the questioning stops most of the times.

What is considered a nuisance here, is where the most brilliant minds keep going on. People love to quote Einstein because quoting him gives an impression that one has also intelligence. A bit like rubbing off. What better way to show one’s intelligence, than agreeing with a genius? It is funny though that there is a quote from the genius Einstein himself that you don’t see much; he said: “It's not that I'm so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.“ That is what Einstein was all about! That may give you a hint why, where mediocre minds consider questioning a nuisance, the brilliant minds create a new theory and get a Nobel Prize!

Individuation is best for business

In business, individuation parallels specialization and increases efficiency. It serves as a means for individuals to find comparative advantage in their working environment or career. For business it could create a comparative advantage in the marketplace. Isn’t that what most of us want, be better and make more money? Let’s think of that kid’s stuff above, put it into place here, and you will see that it is what is needed most in our business and our industry. It makes you wonder how we forgot what we did at age three. Keep asking “Why”! Why the heck are we doing this and especially why this way? Why isn’t there a better way? Individuation is the process through which a person or a business becomes its “true self”.

In psychology it is considered the process whereby the innate elements of personality; the different experiences of a person's life and the different aspects and components of the immature psyche become integrated over time into a well-functioning whole. Take a pause, try to digest the bit of psychology, and read again but this time apply it to a business.

Individuation is stabilizing a professional’s personality or a business; it is also a process of establishing a competitive edge! Understand why the why-questions are so valuable and we should not stop asking them? In fact, we should ask it more because we all know darn well that we ourselves, our society, our business and industry are not perfect.

Stop the world; start asking why!

Yes, I have come to the conclusion that most things we do in life or do in business are just a bunch of nonsense and what is worse that we keep doing it for no good reason at all. Some will blame it on the boss, some on the weather, others on childhood or their mother-in-law. Oh, almost forgot hurricane and recession. More asking Why can make us wiser, more competent and improve our mental maturity.

About:

Cdr.Bud Slabbaert is the initiator and coordinator of the annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference which will be held on St.Maarten/St.Martin, June 11-13 (www.caribavia.com). The international results and solution oriented event brings airlift stakeholders from both aviation and tourism industry, as well as government authorities together.  Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by Business Development, Strategic Communication, and Journalism.

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