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Soualiga News II (4731)

RELIEF FROM HIGH ENERGY COSTS ON THE WAY FOR STATIA

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Low-income households in Statia are being offered support to shield them from soaring energy prices.

The Ministry of Social Welfare and Employment in the Netherlands has agreed a $1300 subsidy to help the most vulnerable Statian residents struggling with their electricity bills. The ministry package has been implemented by The Hague for all Dutch citizens

“In recent months Statians have been clamouring for relief from spiralling electricity bills, which are a direct result of skyrocketing global fuel costs. These subsidies will go a long way towards helping our most vulnerable absorb the shock of these unsustainably high electricity bills,” said Government Commissioner Alida Francis. “We are pleased that the Netherlands has agreed to offer this support package to Statia.”

The details of the framework to roll out the energy subsidy for qualified families, including the eligibility criteria and how and where to apply, are being finalised by the Directorate of Social Domain and the St. Eustatius Utilities Company (STUCO). Registration begins on 1 October.

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Concrete steps to be taken during work conference 'Study Success Caribbean Students'

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Next week, the work conference 'Study success Caribbean students' will take place in Aruba. During this meeting, Aruba, Caribbean Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands look forward to jointly develop supporting programs with concrete and structural measures, so that more Caribbean students can successfully complete their studies.

To achieve this, more attention is needed for, among other things, study choice, cultural differences and language. The conference will also launch an online communication platform where best practices will be shared.

Every year, around 1.600 students from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom start their studies in the Netherlands. They run into many problems during their studies that they often fail to finish. In order to develop a concrete approach to these problems, all countries involved will meet in Aruba from 26 to 28 September. The past year and a half of focused (online) work has been done in preparation for this important conference

Governments and education together
The conference will be held at the University of Aruba and will officially be opened by the Aruban Minister of Education and Sports Affairs, Endy Croes. He will do so together with Ron Bormans, chairman of the board of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and chairman of the Steering group "Study Success Caribbean Students. Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Marjan Hammersma, will also be present.

As will representatives of the governments of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba, and the Netherlands as well as rectors of four universities and a broad representation of secondary education, MBO and HBO.

Participants of the conference will address topics such as proper preparation of Caribbean pupils and students who want to pursue higher education, diligent transfer and monitoring of students, educational opportunities on the islands and study mobility within the Kingdom.

Plan to improve study success
The problems of Caribbean students in higher education have been known for quite some time as well as the need to work together to find a solution. Therefore, at the request of the Ministerial Four-Country Consultation in 2021, the Steering group was started, with representatives from government and education of the four countries, which developed a plan to improve the study success of the Caribbean student.

A project group, consisting of representatives of all countries and relevant parties from education also started work on this plan in 2021. This group will share the current state of affairs, including concrete measures already taken, with the participants during work conferences.

Structural measures will be submitted to the Vierlandenoverleg.
Building on what has already been set in motion, the Steering group will then formulate joint recommendations for the Ministerial Vierlandenoverleg on Education, Culture and Science, which will take place in December.

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New customs boat arrives in Bonaire

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - On Thursday, September 22, the new customs boat arrived on Bonaire. It is an Eduardono 380, of about 12 meters long, with 3 engines of 300 HP. With a desired maximum speed of 45 knots. With this boat we can reach the entire coastline of Bonaire and we can be present at all locations very quickly.

As part of the replacement of the old customs boat and the collaboration within the Multidisciplinary Maritime HUB Bonaire (MMHB), where various chain partners including Customs, KMar, Coastguard, KPCN and OLB work together, a tender for a new boat started in 2021. The chain partners also worked closely together during this tender.

With this new boat, Customs and the MMHB are even better prepared for the tasks to be performed in the context of border control and safety for the residents of Bonaire.

RCN BON Customs in1 DN 03

 

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Anti-Human Trafficking Team investigating several Human Smuggling cases

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Saturday, June 25, 2022, a number of Cubans were discovered in a hotel in Philipsburg. Subsequently, on July 4, 2022, several were detained on the French side of the island aboard a boat that was most likely going to smuggle them to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The captain(s) escaped capture.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team of St. Maarten has indications of connections to the Dutch side in the suspected smuggling case. Arrests are expected in the near future.

In another case, on August 21, 2022, a number of unauthorized migrants arrived aboard a boat in Haulover Bay, St. John, USVI. That boat, based on the investigation, departed from St. Martin (the French side). The boat dropped off the unauthorized migrants along the shore to swim to land. In the process, two unauthorized migrants lost their lives.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team is also investigating links of this human smuggling case on the Dutch side of the island and does not rule out further arrests.

Smuggling people or assisting in any way to do so is punishable under the Penal Code of Sint Maarten, Article 2:154.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team urges anyone in the community with information about human smuggling/trafficking to share this by contacting the Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM via telephone + 1 721 542 2222, ext. 614/604 or the anonymous tip line 9300. 

Samedi 25 Juin 2022, yo te jwenn yon kantité kiben nan yon otèl nan Philipsburg. Pita nan dat 4 jiyè, 2022 yo te areté yon kantité kiben sa yo sou bo franzè lè yo te sou yon bato pou yo te pase kontrebanm nan zilé vyèj Ameriken yo (U.S Virgin Islands).

Kapitèn yo te rive sové. Nan ka sa a, rkip trafik moun / kontrébann moun gen apèsi sou koneksyon yo ak bò Olandè yo ka fè Arestasyon yo, ka espere nan tèm kout. 

21 Aout 2022, yon kantike imigran te tombe tou pre Haulover Bay nan St.John, USVI. Imigran sa yo te depozé sou kòt Saint John U.S. Virgin Islands pa yon bato ki sorti Saint Martin. Malerezman, 2 imigran te nwaye. Ekip trafik moun/kontrebann moun ap mennen ankèt sou koneksyon ki genyen ak bò olandè yo epi li pas ekskli arestasyon nan kout tèm. 

Kontrebanm moun, oswa assistant nan nenpot fason, ap pini anba kod kriminal la nan Sint Maarten, Atik 2: 154 kòd penal

Ekip trafik moun ap kontrebann moun ta renmen mandé kominoté a, si yo grn enfòmasyon kontrébanm oswa trafik moun. Pou fe konnen sa epi kontakté fòs polis sint.maarten. Nimewo tefefòn +1721-5422222, ext 614/604. 

Si ou preferé patajé anonim ou ka toujou kontakté Tipline la 9300.

(KPSM)

police Picture6 human trafficking

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Organization scan of Public Entity Saba

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - An organization scan of the Public Entity Saba will be carried out in the coming months with the aim of strengthening the government apparatus and investing in its most important component: human capacity.

Contracted to conduct this scan is Wim van Twuijver, who was Island Secretary on Saba in 2014 and 2015 and Secretary of Municipality Alkmaar from 2015 to 2022. The scan will focus on the broad lines of the Public Entity Saba as an organization.

The scan will be done based on the input of government employees, the Executive Council and the Island Council. Analyzed will be the current status of the organization and how the organization wants to further develop itself as an employer, but also as a public service institution. The scan, once completed, will give an insight in the needs of the organization, the requirements and points of departure of the Executive Council.

The scan is important, said Commissioner Bruce Zagers, who signed the contract with Van Twuijver in The Hague last week. “Creating a working environment where our colleagues feel valued and happy, will lead to a more productive organization.  Over the last months we have seen a high turnover of employees which is unfortunate. 

“Although some of these workers left organically, it does have our attention. With this scan we hope that it will lead to practical solutions that will promote an atmosphere where employees feel satisfied with their functions within the organization,” he said. 

Van Twuijver will visit Saba in October for the first interviews.

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NV GEBE SIMPSON BAY BRANCH OFFICE RE-OPENS FOR BUSINESS

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - NV GEBE hereby informs the general public that our branch office in Simpson Bay will reopen for business on Monday, September 26, 2022.  

Our business hours are Mondays - Fridays: 7:45 AM – 3:00 PM. Our Help Desk is available Monday through Sunday, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily, for customer convenience and after-hours assistance. Customers can also contact us via our live chat by logging onto www.nvgebe.com.  

The branch office will be open for paying of monthly utility bills, customer service, and everyday business transactions (move in / move out, new connections, etc). Alternatively, bill payments can be made online by signing up for NV GEBE Customer Portal at www.nvgebe.com.

We thank our valued customers for their patience during the period of closure and look forward to serving you.

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Millions extra for improving purchasing power in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The government will make € 16 million available in 2023 to improve purchasing power for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba. An additional € 12 million will then be made available in 2024 and € 4 million annually from 2025 onwards. The money is part of the broad measures that are being taken to improve purchasing power in the Netherlands.

This increase in purchasing power is in addition to the extra financial resources from the Coalition Agreement of structurally € 30 million (€ 23 million in 2022) to improve the standard of living of the inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands. And is in addition to the € 5 million that was made available by the cabinet last March for lowering excise duties in 2022 and introducing an energy surcharge for low-income households.

The extra amount now released by the cabinet will be used to make the energy surcharge available in 2023. This is an amount of $ 1300 for households up to 130% of the legal minimum wage. The reduction in excise duty on petrol in 2023 will also be extended: 16 USD cents per litre for the first half of 2023 and 8 USD cents per litre for the second half of 2023.

In addition, older people will receive a higher basic pension in 2023. The increase in the AOV corresponds to the amount initially envisaged for 2025. This means that an AOV beneficiary with full AOV accrual, depending on the place of residence within the Caribbean Netherlands, receives approximately 150 dollars extra per month.

Furthermore, parents will receive more child benefit next year and childcare will become cheaper. For a single mother with 2 children aged 1 and 3, for example, this means that she receives $40 dollars extra child benefit per month and pays $50 dollars less per month for childcare (for full care).

The tax-free allowance will also be increased. That is the part of the income on which no tax has to be paid. The increase of the tax-free allowance in the Caribbean Netherlands by USD 500 leads to a tax reduction of 30.4% x USD 500 = approximately USD 150 on an annual basis for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands who pay wage or income tax.

The purchasing power measures are additional to the inflation adjustment that is usually applied as of 1 January to the statutory minimum wage, the AOV, the AWW, the social assistance and the child benefit (as well as the tax-free sum). The amount of the inflation correction is determined on the basis of the CBS consumer price index for the third quarter of 2022. This percentage will come out around 20 October. The inflation rate for the second quarter of 2022 was around 8 to 9%, but how this will develop towards the end of the third quarter of this year is not easy to predict in advance.

Furthermore, a package is also being worked out for the Caribbean Netherlands to mitigate the consequences of rising energy prices.

Minister Schouten for Poverty Policy sees that due to the current sharp rise in energy and food prices, the livelihood security of a growing group of people is under increasing pressure: "That is why we are taking a large number of measures to improve purchasing power next year, such as a new energy allowance for low incomes, a higher basic pension and for parents a higher child benefit and cheaper childcare. It is necessary that incomes and costs are more in balance with each other. The government wants to take steps on this more quickly."

State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen of Kingdom Relations is pleased with the extra money for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba: "It is important that we help all residents of the Netherlands with extra purchasing power measures. I am satisfied that there is also a good package for the Caribbean Netherlands. But I also know: we are not there yet. We must continue to work on tackling poverty."

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Royal Netherlands Marechaussee finds foreigners without lawful residence

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - Over the weekend of 17th and 18th of September, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee, KMar) encountered several foreigners staying on Bonaire illegally.

On Saturday 17th of September, three undocumented persons were found, presumably from the Dominican Republic. On Sunday, three persons were found near Sorobon, one of them was in the possession of an Ecuadorian passport. This person was also not in possession of a residency status on Bonaire. 

In the early morning of Saturday 17th of September, KMar received a report of a suspicious situation in which three persons had been found near Laguna Beach. In cooperation with the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN), the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee responded to the report.

At the scene, the situation was examined, and it was assessed whether first aid was needed. The three persons were in good health according to the circumstances. When it emerged that the three could not clarify exactly where and how they had landed, the KMar took the three, presumably Dominicans, to the station for further investigation.

The foreigners have since been transferred to the Netherlands Caribbean Correctional Institution (Justitiële Inrichting Caribisch Nederland, JICN). There they remain in aliens’ custody during further investigation.

On Sunday, 18th of September, officers of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee again encountered three persons during a patrol, near Sorobon. At the time, the three persons were swimming in an area where it is prohibited.

Upon checking the three persons, it was found that one of them did not have a lawful residence on the island. The man, who held an Ecuadorian passport, was also taken to the JICN, where he now remains pending his deportation.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee monitors the security of the Caribbean Netherlands' borders, both at airports and at the islands' water borders. By combating illegal border crossings and cross-border crime, it contributes to security on the islands. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Security stepped up for princess Amalia and Mark Rutte after underworld ‘threats’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Security has been stepped up around the heir to the throne, princess Amalia, and prime minister Mark Rutte because of concerns they could be targeted by organised criminals, the Telegraaf reported.

Amalia has delayed moving in to her student accommodation in Amsterdam, where she is studying Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics, after her name and the prime minister’s cropped up in intercepted messages, the newspaper said on Saturday.

The government information service Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst said it did not comment on security arrangements, but justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz told WNL op Zondag that there were ‘very serious’ threats in general from the underworld against politicians, public figures and journalists.

Yesilgöz said she was working on plans for a stricter detention regime with tighter supervision for ‘exceptional category’ criminals such as drugs gang bosses.

Security guards at the high-security prison in Vught also raised the alarm about correspondence between Ridouan Taghi, who is currently on trial accused of being the head of a gang that carried out six gangland assassinations in 18 months, and Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of film-maker Theo van Gogh.

Taghi’s lawyer Thomas van der Horst confirmed that the two had exchanged letters, pointing out that correspondence between inmates was not forbidden. The Telegraaf said the letters contained citations from the Koran, but Van der Horst denounced what he called a campaign by the media to ‘generate suspicion’.

‘The number of letters in more than a year can be counted on both hands, and only four of them came from my client,’ he said.

(DutchNews)

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Visit to the Netherlands yields positive results

SABA/THE HAGUE--The Saba delegation on Friday, September 16 concluded a successful working visit to the Netherlands with the securing of various commitments that will benefit Saba’s community.

The delegation had meetings at ministries, and with dignitaries and government organizations. A highlight was the establishing of the Task Force that will look at solutions for long-time issues such as banking, connectivity, real estate and notary services among other things. Commissioner Zagers signed the Task Force document on behalf of the Public Entity Saba. Other signatories were State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen and St. Eustatius Deputy Government Commissioner Claudia Toet.

Saba Package and WolBES, FinBES

During a meeting with State Secretary Van Huffelen, the delegation discussed the evaluation and upcoming changes of the WolBES and FinBES laws which focus on different levels of financial supervision, the function of the Kingdom Representative of the National Government Department for the Caribbean Netherlands RCN and the future increase of the size of the Island Councils and Executive Councils. A working group will be visiting Saba in October for talks with the Island Council and Executive Council on this future increase.

Also discussed with Van Huffelen was the Saba Package with a focus on digital infrastructure, digitization in government, digital services for the public and the economic side of digitization. Human capacity was another issue that was discussed as it requires continuous attention with the limitations of a small island. This matter was also discussed with the Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG. Together with the VNG, the Public Entity Saba will look into temporary, short-term assistance until the positions are permanently filled. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) will support the Public Entity Saba financially with these initiatives.

Free allowance

Next year’s evaluation of the free allowance was discussed in a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of BZK. As of next year, the system of the free allowance will be evaluated every year, in consultation with the islands. The free allowance for Saba will be increased gradually in the coming years as part of the Saba Package 2.0.

The possibilities to allocate funding from the Regio Deals of the Dutch Government for Saba’s overall development was also discussed with the Ministry of BZK, as well as the so-called reference points under which the ministries create visions and ambitions for various policy domains that affect the islands.

Investments in poverty eradication, the social domain, public health, healthy lifestyle and sport projects on Saba were discussed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) and the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS).

Other infrastructure

The Saba delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) to talk about important future investments that are needed for Saba’s water infrastructure. On the table are Saba’s ambitions are to extend the water pipeline to the new harbor location, to increase the capacity on the existing pipeline from Fort Bay up to The Bottom and Windwardside in order to pump up more water and faster, to improve the intake for the Reverse Osmosis water plants and to secure more water storage capacity.

The delegation also met with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well as the Minister of Climate Rob Jetten. Issues such as telecom, sustainability and tourism were discussed. Future investments into renewable energy on Saba was the main topic of a meeting with Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Rob Jetten. These investments are important not only from a point of sustainability, but also to make Saba less dependent on fossil fuel, which currently greatly impacts the price of electricity.

Opportune timing

According to Commissioner Zagers, the timing of the visit to the Netherlands for strategic discussions was opportune as it was just before Budget Day on the third Tuesday of September, the end of the year memorandum (“Najaarsnota”) and several crucial debates in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament next month. Commissioner Zagers had individual meetings with Members of the Second Chamber Joba van den Berg and Jorien Wuite.

The Saba delegation travelled back to Saba on Sunday, September 18. The delegation consisted of Commissioner Zagers, Island Secretary Tim Muller, Senior Policy Advisor Nicole Johnson, Head of the Public Health Department Jane O’Flynn and Senior Social Worker of the Community Development Department Lucrecia Paulina.

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