Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (2955)

All eyes on parliament as MPs stake their claims for more spending

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Tuesday’s budget may have been lacking in surprises, but all eyes are on Wednesday’s debate on the government’s 2022 spending plans, when opposition parties are expected to signal which issues they consider crucial for the next cabinet.

‘This year there is something to be won,’ said NOS in its analysis. After all, the broadcaster pointed out, prime minister Mark Rutte made it clear on Tuesday there is enough money to solve the big problems facing the Netherlands and invited the other parties to come up with proposals.

The aim is to bolster the budget with policies which can be enacted while the tortuous negotiations to form a new cabinet continue. It is, Rutte said, a way of allowing the parties in the middle to show that they can work together and achieve something.

No major policies but here are the main points of the budget The Volkskrant points out that the PvdA and GroenLinks will jointly propose scrapping the extra tax paid by housing corporations on the value of their properties, which currently generates €1.8bn for the treasury.

To finance this, they suggest increasing the profit tax rate paid by large firms, and say they expect wide support. After all, the paper says, nearly every party included abolishing the housing corporation tax in their election manifestos.

The Socialists, by contrast, want to cut the own risk element in healthcare from €385 to €285 and say students should be compensated for the financial damage done to them by the abolition of grants.

Together with ChristenUnie, which has now virtually abandoned the coalition, the SP is also submitting a motion calling for higher wages for healthcare workers.

No point in voting

The opposition parties may be coming up with plans but the NRC argues in its editorial that the way the caretaker government is splashing money around feels uncomfortable.

This is despite the fact, the paper says, that the four parties which comprise the outgoing coalition won a majority of seats in the March general election. Nevertheless, the current situation, with no new cabinet in sight, can only boost the feeling that ‘there is no point in voting’, the paper said, referring to opinion polls which suggest confidence in the political system has plunged.

Wednesday’s debate, the NRC said, could be used by political parties to merely score points. ‘Or will they join a proper debate on the big challenges ahead,’ the paper said. ‘One hopes for the second option, given that confidence in politicians is already low enough.’

Mark Rutte

The Financieele Dagblad says in an editorial that the way out of the current crisis may lie with Mark Rutte himself. After all, he is not the only one to blame for the current political impasse, even though his reputation has taken a knock with the childcare benefit scandal, the row around CDA MP Peter Omtzigt and the ‘vague blockades’ during the coalition forming process.

Rutte is at his best during debates such as today’s, the paper said. The challenges are significant but the lights are on green to tackle them. ‘It is up to Mark Rutte in the coming days to show that he still merits his place at the top of The Hague pyramid,’ the paper concluded.



Border checks on the basis of ethnicity are not discriminatory, court says

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch order police can continue selecting people for extra identity checks on the basis of their ethnicity because this does not amount to discrimination, a court in The Hague ruled on Wednesday.

The judge said that while there is no clear definition of what ethnicity is, it broadly amounts to ‘outward appearances which cannot be changed, such as skin colour or race’.

These characteristics, the judge said, could give rise to people being checked. ‘The mere fact that ethnicity plays a role… is not by definition discriminatory and cannot therefore constitute grounds for a general ban,’ the judge said.

The case centres on checks carried out by the border police on air and train passengers, and road users from within the EU. Formal border controls have been phased out within the EU but spot checks are sanctioned in order to combat illegal immigration.

The case was brought by Amnesty International and other human rights organisation, as well as two citizens, including Mpanzu Bamenga, a former Eindhoven city councillor.


He was singled out for special questioning at passport control at Eindhoven airport after returning from Rome where he had attended a conference. Dressed in a suit, he was walking fast, other indicators, it later transpired, for resembling a ‘Nigerian money smuggler’.

When he asked why he had been pulled over Bamenga was told that they were looking for criminals and refugees. He thought he looked like someone the police were looking for, but when a another black man and woman with children were also taken out of the queue, he realized it was a clear case of ethnic profiling.

‘It made me angry,’ he told RTL Nieuws at the time. ‘Ethnic profiling is not about me personally, it affects many people.’

Risk profiles

Junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol told MPs last week that the border police work with risk profiles based on information from the security services, as well as other risk indicators.

These could include race and the travel companions as well as behaviour and travel routes. Lawyer Jelle Klaas, who represented the plaintiffs in court, said the verdict is a missed opportunity for the Netherlands.

‘The door to discrimination and racism remains wide open,’ he said. Klaas said the plaintiffs will appeal against the decision.



SXM Padel clubs introduces Club Manager

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The preparations for the first Padel Tennis Club on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten are well under way! 

On our next step, we are pleased to introduce the first Manager of the SXM Padel Tennis Club, Ms. Nicole M. Perez.  Nicole joins the team with a fantastic background in marketing having been a trade marketing coordinator for major beverage brands like Bacardi, Dewar’s and Patron among others locally.  

Nicole grew up in St. Maarten and returned after completing her studies in marketing at Suffolk University in Boston.  Afterwards she worked in Boston and Atlanta for various multinational companies doing direct sales.  It is great to see professionals like Nicole take important roles like this one where they can show their passion about giving back to the community and the success of the island. 

Nicole loves children, therefore one of her tasks as Club manager will be developing the club’s young children lessons program and after school sessions creating strategic partnerships with different schools, introducing the students to the fastest growing sport in the world, Padel Tennis.

SXM Padel Club will be located opposite the Belair Beach Hotel on the main road, near Learning Unlimited Preparatory School and the St. Maarten Medical Center.  The Club is slated to open during the second week of November 2021. 

The 2 states of the art Padel Tennis courts will be shipping from PADEL 10 the manufacturer in Barcelona, Spain at the end of this month.  The club will consist of 2 Padel Tennis courts, 1 regulation court where professional international tournaments and exhibition games can be held and a second amateur court. 

Both courts will be open for members use and guests seeking to rent the courts by the hour.  Players will be able to reserve the courts in advance by using TPC Matchpoint customized app. software.  The software also features a self-evaluation section where users can determine their skill level and seek matches with other players with similar skill rating.

In addition, the Club will also host 2 Pentanque courts, a fully stock pro-shop where people can buy or rent racquets and acquire Padel tennis attire, merchandise, and equipment.  Lessons and clinics will be available for players of all levels.

Another feature of the court will be its Bistro/Snack bar where players can relax after a game or patrons could just sit and enjoy this fantastic spectator sport. The goal of SXM Padel Club is not only introducing an exciting fast growing new sport to Dutch Sint Maarten but to also provide another activity and outlet of healthy entertainment to the community and visitors alike.

For more information or to be added to our mailing list please follow us on Facebook at SXM Padel Group or on Instagram at SXM Padel.  You can also email Nicole at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 721-523-8925.

sxm padel club RENDER GREEN

sxm padel club logo



Saba on coverpage Canada travel magazine

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Saba was recently featured on the coverpage of the September 2021 issue of Canada Travel & Lifestyle Magazine as well as in a two-page editorial detailing Saba’s unique assets, product review and entry requirements. The magazine refers to Saba as “The secret treasure of the Dutch Caribean” and “The hidden jewel of the Caribbean.”

The Canada Travel & Lifestyle Magazine is distributed to a readership of over 100,000 online and the glossy magazine is distributed to high-income household paid subscribers of the Saturday Star in Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.

“We are confident that this tourism issue and coverage will have a positive spin-off effect and lead to more travel writers, consumers and trade partners becoming curious of Saba, which we hope will translate into increased bookings,” said Saba Tourist Bureau Director Malinda Hassell.

“As travel and tourism are slowly recovering in Canada and the demand for travel to the Caribbean starts increasing, we see more travelers seeking new and unique eco-destinations that are safe and off the beaten path. Saba fits this profile perfectly,” added Hassell, who became Saba’s new Tourism Director in August this year. 

Hassell was positive about the return of Sunwing from Canada to St. Maarten next month. “This is a wonderful indication that Canadian consumers are more confident to start travelling. The timing of the publication in Canada Travel & Lifestyle Magazine comes at a great time in order to start fortifying our destination presence and awareness. We look forward to a positive, stronger fall/winter season and to being able to recover and grow our Canadian market share,” she stated.





The Caribbean Cetacean Society, a New Caribbean NGO, Shows Exceptional Results

SINT MAARTEN/MARTINIQUE - After completing 4 out of 6 scientific expeditions, the Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) studied more than 2,950 marine mammals from 10 different species visually and acoustically between the islands of Anguilla and Martinique this summer during its project “Ti Whale an Nou 2021 ”(Our Little Whales). More than 600 hours of high-frequency bioacoustic sound was recorded in 50 days during a sustained research effort spread over more than 4000 kilometers.

The NGO, newly founded by Caribbean marine biologists from Martinique concerned with protecting their territory, is showing promising results during its first year of research. By sailing along 13 Caribbean islands for two months, they collected data on marine mammals within the entire region. This Caribbean organization is already positioned as the necessary coordinator of cooperation between the different islands to help improve the conservation of species that knows no borders. From this primary monitoring, it is possible to work on a management plan between the Caribbean islands to protect marine mammals equally in all waters.

These first 4 expeditions have made it possible to acoustically record orcas (Orcinus orca) in the West Indies for the first time and to collect the first photo-identification of this species in Martinique. Rare species like pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) were sighted for the first time in the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary, an area that consists of the waters of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba dedicated to protecting marine life. The study of 18 sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) families in the Caribbean has shown that the same social clans are shared between the Yarari Sanctuary of the BES-islands and Agoa Sanctuary of the French Island for the first time. Underlining that cooperation (one of the pillars of CCS) is the key to protect marine mammals efficiently.

Besides collecting scientific data, this Caribbean initiative has benefited more than 20 participants active in Marine Mammal research in the wider Caribbean Region. Locaux participants have been trained and have gained skills in this little-known subject during these expeditions to improve knowledge of marine mammals in their territory.

For each expedition, a crew of 6 have participated in the expedition in search of whales and dolphins. A towed hydrophone system made it possible to hear which marine mammal species is near the boat during the day and at night. Continuous visual surveying from the roof of the boat helps to point out nearby marine mammals. When the animals get close enough to the boat, the crew collects information with high-speed cameras by photographing the caudal (tail) fin of the sperm whales to identify them later on. The tail of each sperm whale is unique, just like human fingerprints. This information makes it possible to establish families and record the movements of all cetaceans in all the Antilles.

All Caribbean islands depend on the marine ecosystem for their food and income, so it is important to protect it. Cetaceans are a vital species for humans. Few people might be aware, but large whales capture 4 times more carbon dioxide and produce 4 times more oxygen than the great Amazon rainforest annually. For example, the sperm whale is the largest predator in the world, they live in families, have cultures and speak different languages between clans. The loss of this species could imply a disaster for marine life as we know it.

The rest of the expeditions are surely going to reveal other fascinating results on our natural heritage about which is so little known.

A network and partners

This mission is the result of the cooperation of a Caribbean network, which seems to be the best solution for the protection of migratory species that we share. It is made possible thanks to the participation of public and private partners: Corail Caraibes, World Wildlife Fund for Nature - Netherlands, EDF Group Foundation, Orange Foundation, SARA, DCNA and AWI.


Statistics Netherlands (CBS) starts Omnibus Survey on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - Between September and December 2021 interviewers from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) will be visiting a random selection of people on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba in order to conduct the Omnibus Survey.

The Omnibus Survey is a survey involving a sample of the population. The aim of this survey is to gain insight into the living conditions of the population on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. It will focus on issues such as health, accommodation and safety. The survey will be conducted among 1,692 persons on Bonaire, 623 persons on St Eustatius and 589 persons on Saba.

In order to gain a better insight into living conditions on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, CBS is counting on the cooperation of all persons who make part of the survey sample.

CBS is legally obliged to treat all the data collected as strictly confidential. With this in mind CBS has taken a variety of measures to protect your data. All the interviewers will have a CBS identification document which they must show on request so that everyone can be sure that the data is being collected by CBS.

CBS understands that providing information in these difficult times is no simple matter. However, reliable data on the situation in the Caribbean Netherlands is extremely important.

Right now, there is an even greater need among government bodies, scientists, businesses and citizens for information on how the Caribbean Netherlands and its residents are doing. That is why CBS is continuing to collect data. CBS hopes that all residents will still be willing to provide this data and would like to thank everyone in advance for their cooperation.

If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact CBS via +599 717 8676. CBS can be contacted from Monday to Friday, between the hours of 08.00 and 17.00. You can also send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More information about the Omnibus Survey can be found on the web page: To find out more about how CBS implements the safety rules on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands and about the aspects that have to be considered when carrying out a home visit, please check the website: (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


The Sint Maarten Alpha Leo Club launches its Membership Drive

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Alpha Leo Club recently conducted a successful Membership Drive from Monday, September 6, - Thursday, September 9, 2021.   

Leo President Prerna Ramchandani and representatives of the Board of Directors visited Milton Peters College (MPC) and Learning Unlimited (LU) schools to talk with students about the Leo Club Program, the community service projects they are involved in, and the fun and camaraderie Leo members enjoy spending quality time together while living up to the Leo motto of “Leadership, Experience, Opportunity.”

The students interacted well with the Leo members and many of them expressed an interest in joining the Organization, registered to receive additional information, and plan to attend one of the Club’s upcoming Meetings.

Alpha Leo Club President Leo Prerna Ramchandani remarked “My sole vision for this Leonistic year as President is to focus on membership. To implement this, our Board and I have worked together to launch our first-ever Membership Drive. The Leos are beyond excited to welcome and meet new people”.

Members of the club were accompanied by Immediate Past President of the Sint Maarten South Omega Club / Leo District 60B President, Leo Nichele Smith-Abreu, President of the Sint Maarten Lions Club, Lion Linette Gibs, Leo Advisor, Lion Jennifer Johnson, and Assistant Leo Advisor, Lion Roxanne Bloomfield.

Lion President Linette Gibs added “The Sint Maarten Lions Club is delighted that the students are interested in serving our community as we can achieve so much more working together. Empowering our youth and developing our young leaders is one of my focus areas as President this year. This is absolutely essential as we embrace the changes that are required for Service Excellence.”

The age range for an Alpha Leo Club member is 12 -18 years after which he /she can move on to the Omega Leo Club which age ranges from 18- 30 years. Should a Leo member decide to continue his/her studies abroad, membership transfer can be made to the Leo Club closest to the College/University of their study.

Plans are in place to hold another Membership Drive at the MAC High School, St. Maarten Academy, and St Dominic High School during the month of October.

Follow us on and Instagram may also email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.  

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Statia Joins Training and Inspiration Week in the Netherlands

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) – Over 40 professionals from Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Bonaire will be in the Netherlands from September 19 until September 25, 2021, to attend a training on community sports and youth work.

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) invited representatives of the three islands to come together to share their ideas and knowledge. The participants will also get new insights on how to improve efforts in these areas in the coming years.


The Ministry of VWS has put together an inspiring program. Hogeschool Arnhem – Nijmegen will be working along with Sport and Exercise Consultancy NMC Bright. Theory and practice are continuously alternated. It’s a complete program filled with a variety of training sessions, visits to different organizations and sports facilities.

There will also be a two-day training on community sports coaching in the mid-week. The location will be held by the National Top Sports Center in Arnhem.

On Friday 24 September 2021, the program will be focused on the youth work for the Statian participants. During this day they will go more in-depth through work visits and sessions on how to reach out to teenagers and how to empower them.

The aim of the training week is to inspire and provide the three islands with the necessary tools needed. Various activities are organized including sessions, training, working visits, events, and recreational events. This is within the framework of the Caribbean Sports and prevention agreement.


Dutch economy ‘to grow by 3.5% next year’, as pre budget leaks start

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch economy is set to grow by 3.5% next year, according to cabinet forecasts due to be published when the 2022 budget is revealed on Tuesday.

The Telegraaf has seen one of the documents in which finance minister Wopke Hoekstra outlines the state of the government’s finances, and which show spending will outstrip income by almost €19bn next year.

Hoekstra does say that a one-off amount of €6.8bn will be allocated to climate policy, mainly for implementing the climate agreement reached at the start of this cabinet’s term in office, and for investment in the energy infrastructure.

A further €400m will go to tackle organised crime, €154m to legal aid and €154m on ‘protection and security’. Earlier it leaked that €100m extra is being allocated every year for the next 10 years to speed up the house building programme.

Some extra cash has also been earmarked to keep the spending power of single income households on an even keel. However, there will be no overall increase in spending power, the Telegraaf said.

The government always presents its spending plans for the coming year on the third Tuesday in September, which is officially the start of the new parliamentary year.

This year no major changes can be expected because the government is acting in a caretaker role and is not allowed to bring in policy which could be considered controversial.



Defence minister does u-turn, resigns over Afghanistan failings

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Defence minister Ank Bijleveld has also resigned in the wake of Thursday evening’s motions of censure directed at her and foreign affairs minister Sigrid Kaag for their failings in the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan.

Kaag, who is also D66 leader, resigned immediately after the vote, but Bijleveld initially said she would stay on the job and that her decision was a personal one. But the decision upset a number of prominent Christian Democrats and on Friday afternoon she too said she will step down.

‘I wanted to continue with the task ahead of me, the men and women in the frontline and the interpreters who are still in Afghanistan,’ she said in a short statement. ‘But my continuation has become a subject for discussion, so I cannot do my work in the proper manner.’

Tom de Bruijn, who was Kaag’s deputy, is taking over the foreign minister role until a permanent replacement has been found – or a new government has been formed.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus will take over Bijleveld’s. Kaag, prime minister Mark Rutte and Hoekstra as leader of the CDA will meet this weekend on neutral ground in an effort to break the cabinet formation deadlock.

The talks are being seen as a last ditch effort by chief negotiator Johan Remkes to put together a majority coalition.


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