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Liberty Latin America announces acquisition of remaining 12.5% of UTS

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Liberty Latin America Ltd. (“LLA”) today has announced that it has completed the acquisition of the remaining 12.5% of United Telecommunication Services (“UTS”). In March this year, LLA acquired 87.5% of UTS and the acquisition of the remaining 12.5% now results in LLA owning 100% of UTS.

The governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten held stakes of 87.5% and 12.5%, respectively, in UTS. C&W Communications (“C&W”) is part of LLA, and the UTS operation reports to Mr. Nicolas Collette, Vice President of C&W, Southern Cluster, which also includes Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.

“This is an exciting moment for telecommunications in the Dutch Caribbean, as following the acquisition of the remaining 12.5% of UTS by LLA, we are now even better positioned to add value for our customers and deliver world-class connectivity and entertainment,” said Mr. Collette.

“We are very proud to be operating in the Dutch Caribbean and over the last few months we have been working hard towards establishing new benchmarks for value, service delivery and customer support. Collette also said the integration process between LLA and UTS was progressing smoothly.”

“We have been working closely together and both brands, Flow and UTS, have been sharing best practices in order to realise the full benefits of our newly combined company. We have also been keeping our stakeholders informed every step of the way and we now look forward to our sustained collaboration as we continue to connect the people of the Dutch Caribbean and create moments that matter for our customers,” he said.

Liberty Latin America is a leading telecommunications company operating in over twenty countries across Latin America and the Caribbean under the consumer brands VTR, Flow, Liberty, Más Móvil, BTC and Cabletica, while UTS provides fixed and mobile services to the island nations of Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Bonaire, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and Saba.

About C&W Communications

C&W, part of the Liberty Latin America group of companies, is a full-service communications and entertainment provider and delivers market-leading video, broadband, telephony and mobile services to consumers in more than 20 markets. Through its business division, C&W provides data center hosting, domestic and international managed network services, and customized IT service solutions, utilizing cloud technology to serve business and government customers. C&W also operates a state-of-the-art submarine fiber network – the most extensive in the region.

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Forum voor Democratie support plummets in polls after infighting and splits

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Infighting and divisions at nationalist party Forum voor Democratie have cost the new grouping major support, according to a string of opinion polls.

A new poll by Maurice de Hond on Sunday said the party would win 14 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament if there was a general election tomorrow. That is half the total recorded in the spring, when the party emerged as the biggest in the regional election vote.

The new De Hond poll gives the ruling VVD 28 seats (19%), down five on its current total in parliament but an improved performance on earlier this year. The Labour party continues to rise and would now take 19 seats, or around 13% of the vote.

The Christian Democrats are on 16 seats in the De Hond poll. It is the first time in years that the three traditional Dutch parties are back on top.

Last week two other polls also highlighted the decline in support for Thierry Baudet’s Forum since it expelled co-founder Henk Otten in a string of acrimonious statements and Twitter messages.

I&O put the VVD on 32 seats, or 21%, just one seat down on its general election total. The poll also indicated that Baudet’s image had taken a major knock, with his personal rating dropping from 4.1 out of 10 to 3.5 and just 36% of the party’s supporters saying they approved of Baudet’s performance in the dispute with Otten.

An EenVandaag poll, also published last week, said Forum’s support had gone down from 25 seats in March to just 11 (7%), and had dropped seven seats in the past month.

The main beneficiary of the drop-in support for Baudet and Forum is Geert Wilder’s far-right PVV, which would gain between one and five seats, the polls show.

Wilders told a rally of far-right parties in Italy on Saturday that nationalist parties in Europe are experiencing ‘tough’ times but said they would make a come-back.

The De Hond poll also shows increasing support for the current four-party coalition which can now count on the backing of 54% of the population. In spring this had plummeted to 35%.

(DutchNews)

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Foreign students may face higher fees, Dutch language lessons

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Foreign students in the Netherlands will be offered help in learning Dutch, and students from outside the EU may face higher fees, if new proposals on dealing with the internationalisation of the Dutch higher education system come into force.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said on Friday that she wanted to reduce the growth in the numbers of foreign students at Dutch universities and hbo colleges.

They now account for some 11.5% of the total student body, twice the number 10 years ago. There has been mounting concern in the Netherlands about the number of foreign students attending Dutch university and college courses, prompting many degrees to be only offered in English.

And last year, Dutch universities published a document calling for the number of courses given in English to be capped in an attempt to contain the growing number of international students.

Court

Although students from other countries contribute to the Dutch economy, labour market and academia, this must not be allowed to go ‘too far’, the minister said. In particular, the growth in English language course may have a negative impact on Dutch student’s language skills, the minister said in a statement.

‘As culture minister, I am attached to Dutch,’ Engelshoven said. Ministry research shows that the growth in international student numbers is putting pressure on the financing, quality and accessibility of education, she said.

‘To bring in more balance, the cabinet wants to revise the rules for offering non-Dutch language education,’ the minister said. Departments which want to offer a substantial part of their courses in other languages than Dutch must prove that this has added value for students, she said.

Foreign students will also be offered Dutch courses, which will also encourage them to remain in the Netherlands after graduation and contribute to the Dutch economy.

Higher fees

The minister also plans to bring in minimum fees for students from outside the European Economic Area, to make sure that they do not adversely impact university financing.

These would be in line with the maximum fees paid by EEA students. According to website Science Guide, bachelor students from outside the EEA would pay at least €7,612 in tuition fees, or €15,178 if attending a university of technology.

Master programmes will cost a minimum of €29,452 year. The number of foreign students coming to the Netherlands is five times higher than the number of Dutch students who spent part of their course time abroad.

To counteract this, the number of Holland Scholarship grants for foreign students will be cut and the number of grants for Dutch students abroad will be doubled to 1,540, the minister said.

Financial benefits

Research published by the government’s CPB think-tank last week showed that foreign students do generate hundreds of thousands of euros for the treasury.

Even after the cost of sending Dutch students abroad is deducted from the total, foreign students from outside the EU generate up to €94,000 each for the government, the CPB said.

This is because their fees are much higher and around 30% of them remain in the Netherlands after graduation, the CPB said. By contrast, EU students bring in between €7,000 and €15,000 each, and no more than 15% stay on after finishing their degree.

Nuffic

In July the government announced that it was reorganising Nuffic, the organisation set up to promote the internationalisation of the education system. The measures include cutting its budget and closing the 10 education support offices, located in countries as diverse as China, Russia, India and Turkey.

‘Taken together, these developments will severely affect the activities through which we support education institutions in developing as well as strengthening high-quality internationalisation efforts, from primary and secondary education to vocational and higher education,’

Nuffic said in a statement. The 10 countries where the support offices are located sent nearly 14,000 students to Dutch colleges and universities in the last academic year, Trouw said. The Netherlands is particularly popular with Indian and Chinese students.

(DutchNews)

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SZV AND APAP PSYCHOLOGISTS SIGN CARE CONTRACT

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - New care contracts have been signed between SZV and private practice psychologists Miranda Veltman, Caroline van Oost, Carmencita Dekkers-Chemont and Alexandra van Luijken.

The care contract offers SZV insured medical coverage for assessment, consult, support and therapy from the psychologists. All three psychologists are members of the Assocation of Psychologists and Allied Professionals (APAP).

The care contract between the parties include several layers of quality indicators that form a minimum standard of quality of care required to patients. Efficient and quality service delivery is important to all parties.

The contract between SZV and the psychologists provides the needed continuity of access to mental health services on Sint Maarten.

For more information about the services of the psychologists and to contact visit www.apapsxm.com or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Public invited to lecture of the Social Economic Council and USM

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Social Economic Council (SER) in collaboration with the University of St. Martin (USM) is extending an invitation to the general public to a lecture titled " The Venezuelan Migration in the Caribbean; problem or opportunity”.

The SER-USM lecture will take place on Thursday, September 19th, 2019 at the USM Lecture hall in room 202 and will commence at 7:00 PM and conclude at 9:00 PM. Two speakers are scheduled to address the public.

No stranger to our community Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez, President of USM, will be a featured speaker for the evening. He is a political scientist specialized in International Relations and the Political Economy of Development. Dr. Carmona Báez was appointed in May 2018 as the President of the USM.

In 1994, he received a BA from Middlebury College, Vermont, where he studied Politics and Latin American Literature. Thereafter, he pursued his graduate degree (MA) in International Relations at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

In 2002, he earned his doctorate from the same university upon having written his dissertation Global Trends and the Remnants of Socialism: Socio-economic and Political Restructuring in Cuba. 

In addition to his duties as President of USM, Antonio is author of various books, articles and contributions concerning political economy and public policy in the Caribbean. Among his most recent publications is the co-edited volume Smash the Pillars: Decoloniality and the Imaginary of Color in the Dutch Kingdom, published in 2018.

The keynote speaker for the lecture is, Professor Gerardo González a Sociologist from the Central University of Venezuela. He has a master’s degree in Latin American Studies granted by the Center for Studies and Documentation for Latin America (CEDLA) of the UvA.

He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) at Leiden University on the Venezuelan migration to the countries of Aruba and Curacao and the public entity of Bonaire. Mr. González has been a consultant for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regarding sustainable development throughout his professional career.

Professor González was also a consultant for non-governmental organizations in Venezuela, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. In his current capacity he is a specialist in the relationship between Venezuela and the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

The SER is an independent advisory body that provides solicited and unsolicited advice to Government on all important social and economic developments. The SER promotes sustainable development, with the aim of achieving and improving quality of life for the people of Sint Maarten.

Another aspect of the advisory body is the organization of public conferences and workshops on socio-economic matters of concern.

USM is an expertise center on the bi-national island of Sint Maarten & Saint Martin specialized in studying and promoting cultures of hospitality in education. As an institution catered to the development of knowledge and wellbeing, it offers academic courses as well as adult enrichment programs.

The general objective of the USM is to produce in every household on the island at least an Associate degree holding mediator and contributor to a tolerant and economically vibrant public life.

Together, the SER and USM hope to see members of the community attend the lecture in order to discuss the events of the Venezuela crisis and its effects on the Dutch Caribbean community with special attention to Sint Maarten.

Antonio Baez

Antonio Baez

 

 

 

 

 

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Nearly three million people in the Netherlands live alone, says CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – More people in the Netherlands are living alone and there are now almost three million single person households, according to new figures from Dutch statistics agency CBS By 2018, 17.4% of the country’s population lived alone, up from 15.7% in 2008 and continuing a trend which developed in the 1970s.

The elderly are the most likely to live by themselves, though that figure has decreased since 2008. A decade ago, 37% of people over 70 lived alone and that number fell to 34% in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, teenagers are the least likely to live alone. Only 5% of people under the age of 20 do not live with family or roommates. Students, in particular students living in cities with large student populations, are also driving the growth.

Nearly one-third of people in their 20s live by themselves, with Groningen leading the pack at 37%. Maastricht, Delft, and Wageningen are also nearly double the national average. CBS expects 3.6 million people to live alone by 2035, as more people live longer.

(DutchNews)

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Insurers to blame for endangering children’s dental health, dentists claim

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Most insurers are failing in their duty of care by not actively informing parents that the dental treatment of their children is free, causing over half a million children never to visit the dentist, dentist’s association ANT claims.

Parents often think their children’s dental care, like their own, is not covered in the basic insurance policy, but this is not the case. In a letter to health minister Bruno Bruins, the association demanded the minister force insurers to expressly point out to parents that their children’s dental care up to 18 is included.

‘Many of the insurers we contacted said it was ‘not their job to lead people to care’ or they cited privacy considerations,’ ANT chair Ravin Raktoe told the AD. Raktoe said insurers see it as a problem that they invest in children who, at age 18, might opt for a different insurer.

‘It would seem the insurers prioritise their finances over their duty of care and social responsibility.’ The association claims that current projects to reach parents are not effective enough and that a letter from the insurer, whose database shows which parents never visit the dentist with their children, is the best way.

A pilot by DSW, the only insurer to heed the ANT’s call, showed that almost half of parents sent their children for a dental check-up after they had a letter. Research by TNO in 2017 showed that tooth decay in five-year-olds has gone down in the last six years but that among the over 10s the situation has stagnated or become worse.

(DutchNews)

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Government forecasts a €3 monthly increase in health insurance premiums

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government expects health insurance premiums to rise by around €3 a month next year, the AD said on Thursday, quoting cabinet sources.

The estimated annual rise of €37 would take the average annual premium to €1,421, the paper said. The formal estimate will be published on September 17, when the government announces its 2020 spending plans.

There are no plans to increase the standard own risk element in health insurance, which will remain at €385. Consumers can increase this to €885 in return for lower premiums.

Although the government always publishes an estimated increase, it is up to health insurance companies themselves how much to charge.

Last year the government said it expected premiums to rise by €10, but most insurers kept to an average of €8 a month, according to research by insurance comparison website Zorgwijzer.nl.

The 2020 rates must be published by mid-November, ahead of the six-week window for changing health insurance company. DSW is traditionally the first to do so and set the pace for the rest.

(DutchNews)

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Foreign students do generate huge sums of money for the treasury: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Foreign students do generate hundreds of thousands of euros for the treasury, the government’s macro-economic think-tank CPB said on Thursday.

Even after the cost of sending Dutch students abroad is deducted from the total, foreign students from outside the EU and generate up to €94,000 each for the government.

This is because their fees are much higher and around 30% of them remain in the Netherlands after graduation, the CPB said. By contrast, EU students bring in between €7,000 and €15,000 each, and no more than 15% stay on after finishing their degree.

‘Foreign students generate more than they cost, and that is something which often gets ignored in the discussion [about the internationalisation of education], researcher Jonneke Bolhar told the Financieele Dagblad.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven is soon due to brief parliament on the situation in the Dutch higher education sector, where there is mounting concern about the use of English in class and Dutch students being squeezed out by more lucrative foreign students.

Last academic year, 11.5% of the student body in the Netherlands came from abroad. Most of them were from the EU.

(DutchNews)

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Prime Minister Romeo Marlin calls on country to observe a moment of silence on 906

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – In observance of the second anniversary of the passing of Hurricane Irma, Prime Minister the Honorable Leona Romeo Marlin addressed the nation.

“To the people of Sint Maarten, our residents and our guests, September 6th, 2017 will be a day that none of us who lived through it or heard of it, will ever forget. Today, marks the 2nd anniversary of the passing of Irma, the most devastating Hurricane to ever hit Sint Maarten. With winds of over 185 miles per hour, the horrific storm left a path of destruction across both sides of Sint Maarten and many of our neighboring Caribbean islands.

Unfortunately, the predictions by many climate change scientists are proving to be accurate, as catastrophic category 5 hurricanes are becoming the norm even during years when the Hurricane Season predictions are below normal.

On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, on this Day of Reflection I ask each of you to observe a moment of silence to reflect on your lives, family and friends as we have a lot to be thankful for. I also ask of you to take this moment to pray for our fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters in the Bahamas whose lives are forever changed by the loss of loved ones, property, jobs and their businesses. Their struggles towards a full recovery are only just beginning, a process that we are very much familiar with.

Even though as a country we are not fully recovered since the passing of Hurricane Irma, I encourage each of you to show compassion, empathy and solidarity with the people of the Bahamas. If you may have the means or the resources, I humbly encourage you to contribute whatever you can towards the people of the Bahamas during this critical emergency phase of the first days post Hurricane Dorian.

Yes, we are still in our recovery phase, and there are many who continue to struggle with the trauma and pain that Hurricane Irma has inflicted on Sint Maarten. I want to let you know that this Council of Ministers remains focused on delivering a full recovery to you the people of Sint Maarten. Together we have made some significant accomplishments in the past 2 years many visible and some not so visible, but there is still so much more to achieve and we will get there.

As I look forward, I see a brighter future with new opportunities on the horizon as many of the businesses on the island continue rebuild and reopen their doors including the larger hotel properties. There are also many new investments that are under the way and being developed to help boost our dynamic economy, to return this country to its previous position as the gem of the Caribbean.

As it relates to the National Recovery Plan, Sint Maarten continues on the right track although I would really like the pace of projects to go much faster but the process is teaching us to be patient, as the objectives will soon be achieved. Recently I had the pleasure of attending the graduation of some 200 persons from The Emergency Income Support and Training program funded by the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund. From its inception until now, this important training project has assisted nearly 1200 persons in our community.

This is just one of the many ongoing projects funded by the Trust Fund and executed by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). Recent reports indicate that other projects like the Emergency Debris Management, the Private & Social Home Repair program and the Shelter Repairs are progressing nicely.

Meanwhile, the Airport Terminal Reconstruction project is almost ready to start. Upon the entry into force of the 2019 budget, in early October, the different financing agreements are expected to be signed. With the help of the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Government of the Netherlands, we have attracted 122 million US Dollars in financing for the airport under extremely favorable conditions. With this financing, and the support of the NRPB and Schiphol, the airport will be able to restore the terminal building to its former glory.

On this Day of Reflection, I encourage each of you to remain steadfast and through faith and perseverance, our beloved country will continue to recover and grow from strength to strength on the foundation built with your resilience and hard work. I also remind you to be prepared and ready for any event or disaster as we are in the peak of the Hurricane Season and as the saying goes, “it only takes one”.

May God bless Sint Maarten and its people, I thank you.”

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