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TWO ARRESTED IN FRAUD INVESTIGATION MITTE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday October 22, 2021, the Recherche Samenwerkingsteam (RST) arrested two people and conducted searches at two houses and at the addresses of two businesses on Sint Maarten under the supervision of the investigating magistrate. 

The arrests of M.H. and R.G. and the searches are related to an extensive investigation codenamed “Mitte” and is focused on fraud related to cleanup and repair works carried out at Princess Juliana International Airport after Hurricane Irma. 

The “Mitte” investigation is executed RST under the leadership of the Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO of the Attorney-General’s Office of Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.

TBO focuses on a specialized approach to combat corruption and subversion of financial and economic crime. Additionally, the team investigates fraud, forgery, and money laundering.

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GAC says APS Pension Fund Coverage Not at Desired Target. Risk of Reducing Pensions in Future is There

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The General Audit Chamber (GAC) submitted its report entitled Compliance audit: APS’ 2020 Financial Statements (General Pension Fund Sint Maarten / Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten) to Parliament. The report addresses findings and conclusions resulting from the review of the pension fund's 2020’s financial statement.

The Fund’s coverage ratio at the end of 2020 was 101.9% (2019: 103.8%). The Fund’s capital remains insufficient to cover general and investment risks. It is the opinion of the Audit Chamber that the 2020 Financial Statements fairly represent APS’ financial position as of December 31, 2020, but uncertainty continues to exist regarding the valuation of receivables from the Government of St. Maarten, as well for other participating organizations.

APS’ coverage ratio is not at the desired target level of 105%. APS’ actuary noted that the benefit (increase) to the coverage ratio resulting from raising the retirement age from 62 to 65 years of age, was borne by the participants. 

APS’ Asset Liability Management (ALM) study completed in 2021, suggests that APS is at risk of reducing members' pensions in the near future if (further) measures are not taken. One of the main reasons for this is the falling actuarial interest rate. Based on the ALM study, it appears that the pension accrual of 2% annually is unrealistic using the current premium contribution of 18%.

The General Audit Chamber will continue to monitor APS’ progress in executing measures to secure the sustainability of the Fund.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber(www.arsxm.org). 

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Police seeking assistance from the community who witnessed case of injured baby last Friday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Detective personnel are busy investigating the incident that occurred on Friday, October 15, 2021, where the rear window of a passenger car was smashed with a stone by a scooter rider on the Airport Road.  

During the incident, a baby was injured when a suspect smashed the jeep’s rear windshield.

In the course of this current investigation, several video images have been compiled by the police.  In the footage collected police can see the scooter riders; however, the quality of the footage makes it difficult to identify the persons involved.

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What is apparent is that there were several witnesses in the vicinity while this incident was taking place. 

The detectives investigating this incident is asking anyone who has information to please contact the St Maarten Police Force at +1 721- 542 22 22 ext. 204 or 205 or the anonymous tip line on 9300.

It is only with the help of the community that together we can solve these cases. You can also visit the police website at www.policesx.sx or leave a message via our face book page (Police Force of St. Maarten - Korps Politie SintMaarten)

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APS organizes Webinar ‘future-ready pension’

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On October 22 at 3.30 pm, APS will host a webinar about the measures taken in 2021 to keep the pension fund future-ready. These measures included the decrease of the actuarial interest rate, the adjustment of the mortality table, and the lowering of the accrual percentage for participants. Persons interested in attending the webinar can sign up via bit.ly/webinar-APS.

Actuarial interest rate

Every three to five years or so, a pension fund needs a full scan of its current financial position and its future-readiness. This is called an Asset Liability Management (ALM) study. Such a scan was performed by Ortec Finance in 2020. One of the conclusions, in light of the persistent low interest rates worldwide, is for APS to lower its actuarial interest rate from 3.75% to 3.5%.

This rate is used by APS to determine how much money we need to set aside now to be able to pay out your pension in the future. The calculation is based on the local and international market interest rates, which since the pandemic have seen significant drops. The lower the actuarial interest rate, the more money the pension fund must keep in reserve to remain future-ready.

No change in participant premium contribution

Another significant change is that people generally live longer than before. For APS however, it also means the fund has to reserve more moneys aside for participants’ future retirement years. APS was therefore required to update the mortality table, the basis for the calculation of participants’ life expectancy.

Both the lowering of the actuarial interest rate and update of the mortality table could have had an impact on the required premium percentage contribution of participants. However, no change in the premium percentages will be necessary at this time. The employees’ contribution remains 8% of the salary-minus-AOV franchise and the employers contribute the difference up to 18% of the gross salary.

Accrual percentage for participants

Even though APS realized successful returns on investment, executed an effective pension reform in 2020, and maintained a coverage ratio of 101.93% by the end of December 2020, in the present situation it is required by law that participants’ accrual percentages are lowered.

The accrual percentage is the speed at which participants build up pension entitlements. This percentage has been lowered from 2% to 1.75% per year as of January 1, 2021. This means that the maximum pension is built up in 40 years instead of 35, which is in line with the global trend of pension age increase. Put in a regional perspective, the measure follows the Dutch Caribbean trend. The national pension funds of Aruba and Curaçao adopted the 1.75% accrual percentage in respectively 2015 and 2013 already, and the BES islands have an accrual percentage of 1.71%.

“The measures APS took ensure that the fund remains future-ready in spite of the Covid-pandemic related challenges in the local and global economies. I am happy to announce that our participants’ pension remains secure”, commented APS Director Nadya Croes-van Putten.

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Omega Leos holds “Period Poverty” Drive at Carrefour Supermarket

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten South Omega Club held a “Period Poverty” Drive at Carrefour Supermarket on Saturday 9 October 2021.

This was in response to the “Period Poverty Awareness” Campaign that is currently ongoing in the islands of Leo District 60B.

Club Members joined together in front of Carrefour to collect feminine products from the general public who passed by. This also provided the public the ideal opportunity to learn more about The St. Maarten South Omega Leo Club and its members.

The Omega Leo Club President Javid Hurtalt stated ”it is a great feeling to not only bring awareness to this very important issue but also to collect items to ensure that we are doing our part in service, by advocating for those who are unable to do so and share the dignity in raising awareness on “Period Poverty”.

As a Service Club, we continue to do our part for our community and it does not matter the size of the contribution. It still has a meaningful impact on where we will move forward for the betterment of our country.”

The St. Maarten South Omega Club has plans for more “Period Poverty” Drives to provide the community the opportunity to contribute to its initiatives. Future locations will be announced on the Organization’s social media outlets.

The Omega Club encourages persons within the community to join in its efforts in sharing the dignity and thanks its members for their continued dedication.

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Readers are Leaders is Back

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Philipsburg Jubilee Library and the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise has re-launched the signature project ‘Readers are Leaders’, after four years.

This program is spearheaded by Rotarian Marcellia Henry and Maryland Powell, a librarian of the Philipsburg Jubilee Llibrary.  The mission of Readers are Leaders is “To inspire and motivate teenagers to read in order to broaden their horizons”.

The relaunch was held at the library on September 29, 2021 and will come to an end on April 2, 2022.  Ms. Glenderlin Holiday, Director of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library and the Rotary Sunrise ‘s President Damali Bryson, spoke at the event to the eager participating students and teachers who were present.

Rotarian Henry and Ms. Powell presented the criteria for those interested in participating in the Readers Are Leaders program, they are as follows:

  • High School students must read a minimum of seven (7) books by April 2, 2022
  • At least two of the books have to be non-fiction books about Leaders.
  • The English Language books have to be chosen from the Readers are Leaders’ collection, or from the teenagers and adult section of the Library.  
  • Participants have to answer the required questions about each book they read. They are to send the answers to the Information desk at the library, by the last Friday of each month.
  • The first participants who finish five (5) books will receive a prize.
  • The participants who earned the most points at the end of the campaign and have participated in extra reading activities will receive a special prize.

Students can register for the program at their school, or at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library. Success to all participants and hope the prize could be won.

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Arrest made in "Coconut man" case

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - An arrest was made in the case of “Coconut Man” on Friday, October 15, 2021, by detectives of the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM.

“Coconut Man” died on August 16, 2021, in Sint Maarten Medical Center where he was being treated for his severe injuries since he was found on April 20 lying on the ground at the back of the restaurant where he had resided. He was found by police officers and ambulance personnel in a critical condition.

The investigation into the ill-treatment and death of “Coconut Man” is still ongoing.

Anyone with knowledge or information about this incident that may lead to further arrests are urged by detectives to contact KPSM’s Detectives Department on +1 721 542 2222, ext. 208, 223 or 214 or call the anonymous tip line 9300. (KPSM)

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Traffic Dept. investigating traffic accident. Driver violates speed limit

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Sunday morning, October 17, 2021, at approximately 03.50 am Central Dispatch was notified of a traffic accident that occurred on the Prince Bernard Bridge where the vehicle ended up in the pond.

Apparently, it appeared that the driver had been driving at such a high rate of speed that he lost control of the vehicle and collided with the guardrail, ending up in the pond.

The driver suffered only minor injuries and was later attended to by ambulance personnel. The towing company extracted the damaged vehicle from the fresh pond sometime later.

Speeding

Speeding is the second most common cause of road accidents. Since cars, motorcycles and truck accidents that involve speeding typically occur at high speeds, it is also a major cause of serious or fatal road injuries.

Driving above the speed limit is a common practice for many motorists. In addition, illegal behavior vastly increases the risk of losing control of a vehicle and causing an accident even a small increase in speed can result in a much higher risk of being involved in a collision or other type of accident. As such, it is essential for motorists to be aware of the speed at which they are traveling and stay within the legal limits.

Speeding, changing lanes without looking, hopping of scooters and motorbikes, and ignoring road signs are all classic signs of reckless driving. An illegal driving habit’s now one of the most common causes of road accidents on our island.

Reckless driving usually involves a motorist that is less concerned about other road users than they are. After having looked at the reasons why vehicle accidents happen, an overview was done into the location on the island where most vehicular accidents take place. Through this information the Sint Maarten Police Force would again like to caution road users.

A lot of the accidents happening can be avoided if everyone drove not only for themselves but also for the cars around them. Take heed the roadways are not your own avoid unnecessary collisions. The Police Force will continue to work towards keeping Sint Maarten roads ways safe but it is a job that cannot be done without the help of the community. In many cases, easy safety measures can be taken to prevent unnecessary accidents. (KPSM)

police car accident on bridge tow truck

 

 

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SCDF announce pageant prizes, will make shows less costly for contestants

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is hard at work preparing for the local shows of Carnival 2022 and over the weekend announced the prizes and main approach for the Carnival Queen Pageants. All four of the SCDF’s pageants are on the schedule for Carnival 2022: The Junior, Teen, Senior and Mature Carnival Queen Pageants.

Vice President of the SCDF Paula Gordon, who is also the Pageant Coordinator, explained that in a typical Carnival year, the biggest challenge for pageant contestants is raising funds for pageant preparations.

“This is definitely not a typical year in terms of the economy and participation of the private sector. In this context we have made an effort to implement changes to the pageant segments to make the pageants more affordable for all contestants as we come off the heels of hurricane Irma and this pandemic as sponsorship might be challenging,” Gordon said.

She explained that the changes will be outlined once the registration process closes on December 1, but she did allude to the fact that contestants will not have to pay thousands for certain segments of the show. Contestants usually have to raise more than US $10,000 to fund pageant segments. “This will not be the case,” Gordon assured.

Gordon, a former Ms. Mature Carnival Queen is being assisted in the organizing of the pageants by Davinia Brooks, a former Miss St. Maarten Senior Carnival Queen.

In terms of prizes, the foundation announced the following:

Senior Queen: $5,000 & Material Prizes, 2nd runner-up: $3,000 & Material Prizes, 3rd runner-up: $2,000 & Material Prizes. Ms. Mature Queen $2,000 & Cruise for two & Material Prizes, 2nd runner-up: Trip for two & Material Prizes, 3rd runner-up: Material Prizes. Teen and Junior Pageants: Queens: $1,000 & Material Prizes, Runner-Ups: Material Prizes

Material Prizes could include: Payment of Utility Bills, school fees, grocery vouchers, smart phones, TV's, dinners, hotel stays, photo-shoots and other gifts.  

“We want to make the pageants so much more than prizes and expensive segments,” Gordon said. “These are Carnival pageants, we want to focus on culture, creativity, confidence and fun. We want our contestants to realize that they will have platforms to do so much in their community. We will impress upon them that as a pageant Queen or runner-up, they can leverage their visibility, popularity and platform to work with other organizations and the business sector to serve the community. For us this is the lasting experience we want for pageant contestants. The glitz and glamour is nice, and the public will get a great show, but what you do as a solid and involved citizen with a title is much more important,” Gordon concluded.  

Interested young ladies and women can register until December 1 for any of the pageants via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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SABA students thank NAGICO Insurances for Care kits

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Students of the Saba Comprehensive and Sacred Heart Primary School in Saba have expressed a big thank you to NAGICO Insurances, for providing them with care packages, to help them maneuver face to face learning while staying safe in the pandemic. 

Administrator of the NAGICO Saba Office, Sheritsa Brigida Oleana made a courtesy call to the schools, where she presented the packages to the eager students. 

“Trying to return to a state of normalcy during a pandemic is very difficult, especially with the new strain of the COVID-19 Delta variant affecting many of us personally,” she said. “We have gone from hearing about the virus oceans away in other countries, to seeing it in our homes and in some cases, claiming the lives of our friends and family. As an insurance provider, we know that we must play our part in not only spreading awareness, but also in providing the necessary assistance where possible.” 

The students received backpacks with reusable masks, hand sanitizers, pens, and pencils. 

“Telling them what to do is not enough,” Brigida- Oleana said about the COVID-19 precautionary measures, “providing them with the resources to protect themselves is important in stopping the spread of the virus, and for the recovery our education system. By providing them with this tangible protective material, we hope to make the move back to normalcy a bit easier and safer.” 

The students expressed their gratitude and thanked NAGICO for their continued contribution to the community of Saba.

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