Soualiga Newsday Focus
Menu

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1427)

Cft: “Decisiveness is needed to realize intentions”

BONAIRE -The Board of financial supervision of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) has called on both the Executive Council and the Island Council to show more decisiveness in the realization of policy intentions and financial management actions. The Cft observes that too many financial resources have remained unused in recent years, while necessary improvements are still lacking in various policy areas. When the financial management is put in order, a timely and reliable budget and accountability cycle can be attained.

Preliminary figures show that Bonaire has realized a surplus of approximately USD 12 million over the year 2018. The revenues were approximately USD 3 million higher and the expenditures approximately USD 9 million lower compared to the 2018 budget. In almost all policy areas the available resources have not been fully utilized. The Cft has advised the Executive Council to ensure that the 2018 financial statements are finalized in time, so that a proposal can still be made to the Island Council to spend the money that has remained unused. Discussions were held with the Executive Council about the possibilities to achieve a situation whereby the policy intentions that are incorporated in the budget will be fully implemented in 2019.

In November 2018 a government agreement (bestuursakkoord) was concluded between the State of the Netherlands and Bonaire. The Cft will monitor the execution of the agreements to improve financial management and has received an explanation from the Executive Council on the current state of affairs. The Cft has agreed that the present financial management improvement plan will be finalized in February 2019. This is important since it has been agreed with Bonaire that the 2021 financial statements will receive an unqualified auditor's report.

The government enterprises have also been discussed. These companies carry out government tasks and their proper functioning is therefore of great importance for the citizens. The Cft has called for the improvement of the governance and to comply with the agreements in the government agreement. Specifically, the full staffing of the supervisory boards was discussed and the timely drafting and submittal of the annual accounts. Also, in this area decisiveness is essential in the short term.

During the visit of the Board on Tuesday, February 19th, meetings were held with the Lieutenant Governor, the Executive Council and the Island Council.

Read more...

10 percent more flights to and from the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In 2018, there were nearly 23 thousand aircraft movements to and from the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, a 10 percent increase on the previous year. The number of passengers on these flights rose by nearly 11 percent. All three airports in the Caribbean Netherlands recorded growth figures. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. 

At Flamingo Airport on Bonaire, the number of aircraft movements went up by over 9 percent last year. The number of travellers grew year-on-year in each consecutive month of 2018. Total passenger arrivals and departures grew by more than 11 percent to over 359 thousand travellers. With 33.7 thousand travellers, December was the busiest month. The busiest day was Saturday 22 December: 2.2 thousand passengers. September was least busy with 25.2 thousand passengers. 

Curaçao is the most popular (direct) origin and destination for passengers at Flamingo Airport, although this does not mean that Curaçao is their actual place of origin or destination.

12 percent more aircraft movements on Saba

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on Saba is the smallest airport of the Caribbean Netherlands. The total number of flights here rose by nearly 12 percent. This growth took place despite the temporary closure due to major maintenance work done between 10 September and 9 October. The airport was also closed down in 2017 after Hurricane Irma for a period of one and a half weeks and the regular timetable was disrupted for some time. 

Saba’s airport welcomed over 28 thousand passengers in 2018, of whom most were on their way to or from St Maarten. The runway for landing at the airport is just 400 metres long and only small aircraft which carry a maximum of 19 passengers may land or take off there. 

More aircraft movements and passengers for St Eustatius

F.D. Roosevelt Airport on St Eustatius saw over 6.8 thousand aircraft arrival and departures in 2018. This is 10.5 percent more than in 2017. The number of passengers handled by this airport stood at 42 thousand, an increase of 11.5 percent. St Eustatius as well was badly affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Due to their location further north, Saba and St Eustatius are more prone to hurricane damage than Bonaire. 

Sources

StatLine - Caribbean Netherlands; Aviation, monthly airport data

https://statline.cbs.nl/Statweb/publication/?VW=T&DM=SLEN&PA=82332ENG&HDR=T&STB=G1,G2#/CBS/nl/dataset/82332NED/table?dl=192D0

Read more...

Injured Dutch SS members are still getting benefits from Germany: report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least 34 Dutch nationals, some of whom were members of the SS during World War II, are still getting benefits from the German authorities, according to research by current affairs show EenVandaag. 

The amounts vary from a few hundred to €1,300 a month and the beneficiaries do not pay tax over the money in the Netherlands, EenVandaag said. The German agency responsible for making the payments would not give any further details, only saying that the beneficiaries were injured during WWII. 

But EenVandaag’s research shows that some of them were injured while serving with the Waffen SS. In 14 cases, the benefits are payed to widows and in 10 cases the recipients are dual Dutch and German nationals. 

Historian Cees Kleijn, who has been following former SS members and has spoken to around 150, told broadcaster NOS it could not be ruled out that some of the beneficiaries are war criminals. 

Although Germany says it does not make payments to war criminals, this cannot be checked because the agency will not name names, Kleijn said. Dutch Jewish organisation CIDI said it is scandalous that former SS members are receiving cash from Germany. 

‘They worked with the Nazis during WWII and are still benefiting,’ spokeswoman Naomi Mestrum said. According to the Dutch institute for war documentation NIOD, some 25,000 Dutchmen volunteered to join the ranks of the German Waffen SS. 

This number was not only relatively but also absolutely, the largest contingent of non-German volunteers from all of the Nazi occupied territories. (DutchNews)

Read more...

No punishment for ice cream shop owner who attacked racist teens

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The owner of an ice cream parlour in Hilversum who attacked a youth who threw a mandarin orange at her shop with a mop will not face any punishment, judges said on Wednesday. 

The woman had gone through months of racist bullying and vandalism and was ‘understandably very emotional’ when the fruit was thrown at the window, the court said. 

Gillyon Emanuels was with her two-year-old son when three young men began making racist remarks and called her a ‘cancer ape’ and told her to ‘climb back in your tree’. She grabbed a mop from her shop and hit one of the youths, then aged 18, on his hand and arm. 

One of the other youths filmed the incident on his mobile phone. Evidence The public prosecution department decided to prosecute the case after efforts at mediation failed and said there was no evidence that she attacked in self-defence. 

And despite making two police complaints, including one about a Suriname flag covered with excrement, there was no evidence that Emanuels had been subject to systematic racial harassment, the department said. 

One of the youths, now aged 19, is also facing court for the racist abuse. ‘If I had been found guilty, it would have been a stab in the back,’ Emanuels told broadcaster NOS after the verdict. The past 18 months have been a ‘nightmare’, she said. ‘My life has been at a standstill.’(DutchNews)

Read more...

Trade deficit on St Eustatius down in 2018. Saba has largest trade deficit

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In 2018, the trade deficits of Bonaire and Saba rose while the deficit of St Eustatius declined. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

The Caribbean Netherlands has a structural trade deficit. This means that the value of imported goods exceeds the value of exported goods. Domestic production of goods is relatively low on the islands.

Statia’s trade deficit below 50 million US dollars

In 2018, imports exceeded exports by 47 million US dollars on St Eustatius. This trade deficit was 10 percent down on the previous year but still larger than in 2014. The import value fell by 7 percent to 51 million US dollars, while the export value rose by 59 percent to nearly 4 million US dollars.

Saba: largest trade deficit since 2015

Last year, Saba’s trade deficit amounted to 20 million US dollars. This is one-fifth up on 2017, making it the largest deficit since 2015. It grew partly as a result of work on the island’s infrastructure including airport renovation works . Goods imports amounted to 21 million US dollars and goods exports stood at 0.5 million US dollars.

Salt exports down on Bonaire

In 2018, Bonaire imported 223 million US dollar’s worth of goods, 5 percent up on the previous year. Exports stood at 9 million US dollars, 15 percent less than in 2017, largely due to a decline in the export of salt. The island’s trade deficit grew in each consecutive year as of 2014, to 214 million US dollars in 2018.

Smaller share of fuels in Bonaire’s deficit

Machinery and transport equipment were the largest contributors to Bonaire’s trade deficit, with imports exceeding exports by 57 million US dollars. Food and livestock contributed 41 million US dollars. Virtually all categories saw an increase in deficit compared to 2017. Only mineral fuels saw a decline, from 14 million US dollars in 2017 to 3.5 million US dollars in 2018.

Source

StatLine – Caribbean Netherlands: im- and exports per island

https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/82658eng

StatLine – Bonaire: imports and exports, SITC

https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/82659eng

Read more...

SXM DOET RECEIVES GENEROUS DONATION FROM SXM FESTIVAL

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The largest volunteer event on St. Maarten has received a generous donation from the electronic music festival known as SXM Festival through a partnership that has been in the works for some weeks. 

SXM Festival, which made its first debut in 2016, is back for the third time in St. Maarten/Martin. SXM DOET is proud to partner with SXM Festival, whose international organizers have made the island their adopted home, helping to rebuild alongside the community with various donations and initiatives. 

The Festival’s contribution of USD $10,000 to the SXM DOET event will directly benefit select organizations who have signed up and registered projects that will be executed by volunteers on March 15th and 16th, the same weekend as SXM Festival. 

The SXM DOET Project Management Team, consisting of Fleur Hermanides, Laura Bijnsdorp and Melanie Choisy are excited about the recent partnership with the world renowned music festival. “Besides the funding we receive from the Oranje Fonds each year, this has been our biggest contribution to date since we started in 2015 and are truly thankful for SXM Festival’s support of our event and island community.”

Considering the two events fall on the same weekend in March, festival goers visiting from around the world have the opportunity to volunteer with hands-on projects alongside local non-profits and residents; forging memorable friendships that are sure to make a profound impact on our society as a whole. 

“SXM DOET is an amazing initiative. Their actions really do make a difference on the island. We felt an immediate connection to this organization as SXM Festival shares the same spirit of bringing the community together and making the island a better place. With both events taking place on the same weekend, the partnership was meant to be! Looking forward to seeing our international community and the local communities connect and make a change!” says Julian Prince, founder of SXM Festival.

Potential volunteers from near and far are encouraged to sign up to their preferred project(s) on the www.sxmdoet.com website. There are currently 120 projects to choose from for persons of all skill sets and ages. 

Some projects for 2019 include: Schools, daycares and afterschool programs that are in need of a new layer of paint, mood-lifting murals, fencing, benches, gardens and more; Playgrounds and sports fields in the various districts that could use your help for much-needed renovations and upgrades; Environmental projects to make recycling bins, clear hiking trails and collect waste for upcycling purposes; Social organizations that need volunteers to chaperone and support vulnerable groups such as foster children, the elderly and differently-abled persons….and so much more!

For more information please contact us at 586-0808 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more...

Minister De Weever: Media Reporting about Prison Far from the Current Reality. Progress being made

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever took note of media reporting regarding the status of the Prison in Point Blanche and was baffled by the recent story that was published based on outdated information.

Information about the progress being made at the Prison was published in the media mid-December under the headline, “Minister inspects repairs at prison.”

At that time urgent repairs were being made to the roof, corridor walls and courtyard walls.  These works including project management and site supervision were being carried out by Independent Consulting Engineers (ICE).

References made to the St. Maarten Progress Committee third-quarter 2018 report and published in a news article mid-February are outdated and based on the observation period by members of the committee from July 2018 – October 2018.  

“I do not dispute the observations made in the Progress Committee third-quarter 2018 report, but much has been achieved since that report and since those site observations were made.  The perception created in the media today is far from the truth of today’s progress.

“There has been much progress since three and a half months ago, and it is very unfortunate how the reporting was done in connection with the hard work, time and effort that has been made by all stakeholders and the contractors over this period,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday.

The St. Maarten Progress Committee has since visited the Point Blanche Prison, in December 2018 and again in January 2019.

“Some observations were made by a representative of the committee after visiting in December prior to the January site visit.  At that time, they noted that things were moving forward step by step and saw that we were committed to getting things moving based on the recommendations made in the report.

“I also met with and briefed the Dutch Minister of Justice & Security Grapperhaus as well as Dutch State Secretary Knops during our justice deliberations in Aruba (JVO) that took place in the latter part of January.

“Progress at the Point Blanche Prison has also been published in the media and on our Facebook page amongst other sources.  There should have been balance reporting, but there’s what you read and then there is the truth,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday. 

Minister De Weever added that the rebuilding process has been confronted with a number of challenges along the way and the Ministry of Justice has been diligently dealing with them as best it can.

“For example, not all electrical work can be completed at the Point Blanche Prison before renovations have been completed. Government is dependent on external entities to carry out works based on winning the bid for that particular project.

“A Dutch Company was hired to re-install existing camera’s among other technical works.  Even though their invoice was partially pre-paid, the work has not started as yet despite repeatedly requesting a start date.

“There is a transparent process in place for selecting companies to carry out work at the prison, and we have to follow the procedures as dictated by good governance and this plays a role in things not moving fast enough as some would like them too, but we are making steady progress and we will continue on the track embarked upon based on our adjusted improvement plan and the recommendations of the Progress Committee in order to meet our obligations as well as international treaties and conventions,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever concluded. 

190128 Detention Center Roof renovations before

Before.

190128 Detention Center Roof renovations after

After.

 

Read more...

Seven ships in port on Saturday. Crew arrivals and Homeporting Leading to Beehive of Activity

PORT ST. MAARTEN – There were seven cruise vessels in port on Saturday, marking another busy day for the destination where cruise tourism is concerned.  Three of the vessels in port, namely, Star Flyer, Wind Surf, and Seabourn Odyssey were picking up passengers which is part of the homeporting services that the island offers.

The vessels in port on Saturday were Silver Spirit, Carnival Fascination, Seabourn Odyssey, Koningsdam, Freedom of the Seas, Star Flyer and Wind Surf which represented a combined total in over 16,000 passengers and crew. In terms of passengers, there were close to 12,000 in port on Saturday and over 4,300 crew.

The seven vessels were all moored at the two cruise piers at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility.

There has also been a noticeable increase in demand for cruise ship crew changes.  A group of 50+ crew members from one cruise line flew in to the destination last week to join their vessel.  Port Management says this once more signifies the importance of the destination to the industry. 

Port St. Maarten Management is very pleased with how Fly & Cruise Home porting has taken off for the high 2018-2019 cruise season.  A number of small cruise lines are using Port St. Maarten as their home port of choice in the north eastern Caribbean.

St. Maarten has cemented itself as a homeport destination. It is testament to the appeal of cruising from St. Maarten as cruises out of the destination offer the perfect way to experience the warm hospitality of the Region.

Emphasis has been placed on luxury cruise brands that translate into more spending power of passengers based on their higher disposable income levels.  This also shifts the destination from quantity to quality cruise tourism therefore increasing the destination value due to attracting other high-end brand lines.

Homeporting generates more airlifts in and out of the destination; brings additional business for local service providers; and creates the potential for pre- and post- cruise extension visits.

Statistics show that 20% of the passengers who fly to a destination to take a cruise also take a pre or post vacation stay.  They spend about two days after they arrive on the island before taking their cruise and do the same upon returning from their cruise.

The guests have some time prior to boarding the homeported vessel and also upon their return from their cruise to enjoy the benefits of the destination.  The financial economic gain will trickle down to the following areas: transportation services sector such as taxi’s and car rentals, vessel provisioning from food and beverage wholesalers; passengers arriving and departing through SXM Airport fees and economic activity for businesses there; aircraft fees for SXM Airport; dockage and passenger fees for Port St. Maarten; fueling services; hotels and villa rentals; restaurants and entertainment; duty-free shopping retailers; cruise ship personnel shopping for goods and services while homeported; visiting attractions and amenities available and taking tours/excursions; advertising and marketing of the cruise destination; opportunity created for conversion from cruise passenger becoming a stay-over guest, and other businesses that provide ancillary services to the tourism sector.

With SXM Airport working to bring United States Customs Pre-clearance to the destination, this will be a plus and would stimulate connectivity and attract new businesses as there would be a seamless travel-cruise experience to and from the destination for the traveler.

Port St. Maarten’s strategic long-term sustainable approach calls for an investment in a permanent homeport terminal that can handle vessels carrying 1500+ cruise passengers according to cruise market demand, however this can only materialize through the cooperation with key local stakeholders.

The current terminal building being used is a temporary structure that is air-conditioned and can handle up to 1,000 guests during peak hours; 12-check in desks and a luggage screening machine; bar and restaurant serving drinks and snacks on sale for passengers; VIP section with seating for 50-80 passengers; Wi-Fi; facilities for the disabled; and much more.

The terminal is able to store more than 1200 pieces of luggage and is located nearby the cargo container storage area. 

The permanent facility would be better equipped and structurally secure to withstand hurricanes and meet the growing demands of Fly & Cruise homeporting.  The construction of a permanent facility would be carried out in close consultation with cruise line partners to ensure the design and logistical requirements are in line with new-cruise ship builds with an outlook of 15-20 years from now.

St. Maarten is also seeking to become the lead cruise ship provisioning port.  

Port St. Maarten has provisioned several cruise ships with dry and frozen goods sourced from local food wholesalers, and the operations were carried out in an efficient manner showcasing the port’s ability to adapt based on varied arrival times and still deliver quality service and maintain operational excellence.

Cruise ships carrying 3000-5000+ guests and crew consume large amounts of food everyday over a seven-day cruise.   

Port St. Maarten has developed a strategy to increase volume related to cruise ship provisioning with the objective of becoming the lead cruise ship provisioning sea-port in the near future which would be very beneficial to the local economy protecting employment and also creating additional employment opportunities within the food wholesale sector.  

Packaging from goods and products locally purchased and delivered to the vessels, are disposed of by a third-party port concessionaire who directly works with the cruise lines.

St. Maarten’s international appeal as a cruise destination, along with business services offered in the maritime logistical sector and in the food supply area, are the assets allowing the island to gain from cruise ship provisioning. This would further enhance the port’s operational excellence platform bolstering more business which is key to future growth for the island.

Read more...

Long jail terms for insurance scam student flat arsonists

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Three people in their 20s have been jailed for between 14 and 16 years for an arson attack on a block of student flats in Diemen which killed a 27-year-old philosophy student in 2017. 

Simona I, 24, her brother Gilermo, 25 and 27-year-old Rachied V were found guilty of setting the fire in order to con money out of an insurance company. Simona, I lived in the flats and was hoping to make a claim for damages. 

Security footage showed Gilermo I and V entering the block of flats and going into an apartment, after which the hallway filled with smoke. During the hearing I said he is very sorry about what happened. 

‘But I cannot turn back the clock,’ he told the court. The three have also been ordered to pay financial compensation to the victims. One, a journalism student, now suffers from brain damage and may be unable to complete her studies. 

Another has developed serious depression. The body of victim David Swart was only found hours after the fire had been put out.  (DutchNews)

Read more...

Police say use of batons against anti-gas demonstrators was wrong

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police in Groningen now say they were wrong to use batons in an effort to move a group of sitting demonstrators protesting about gas extraction last August, but say it was justified in other cases. 

The organisers of protest, Code Rood, said last year five activists were injured when police moved in because they were sitting too close to the fence next to the tanks. Video footage of police repeatedly hitting a sitting woman caused outrage at the time. 

‘The demonstrators were too close to the fence but should have been removed in a different way,’ Friday’s police statement said. In addition, officers had been wrong to use a water spray used to put out fires against the demonstrators. 

It is not part of the official weaponry available to the police and its use was illegal, the statement said. In total, police say, they received 12 formal complaints about their actions during the week-long campaign, focusing on both their presence and the use of violence. 

‘The large police presence by the camp in Leermans and the area around the Farmsum tank park caused discomfort among locals, business owners and demonstrators and this was never the intention,’ the statement said. 

‘The police presence could have been reduced earlier.  Senior officers have had a personal meeting with everyone who complained, and they have all had a written reaction.’(DutchNews)

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio