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Plenary Public session of Parliament continues about public homes and facilities managed by the SMHDF

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in an Urgent Plenary Public session on February 19, 2020.

The Public meeting which was adjourned on February 5, 2020 will be reconvened on Wednesday at 14:00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure and representatives of the SMHDF will be present.

The agenda point is:

Status of repairs of the public homes and facilities managed by the SMHDF and to give an account of the status of affairs of the SMHDF (IS/459/2019-2020 dated January 20, 2020)

(This meeting was requested by MP A.E. Richardson, MP S.L. Duncan and MP R. Brison)

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 www.pearlfmradio.sx, via the internet www.sxmparliament.org, and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten

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Central Committee meeting of Parliament regarding an update on and the implementation of the CFATF related laws

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on, February 18, 2020.

The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 14.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Justice will be present.

The agenda point is:

Update on and the implementation of the CFATF related laws

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx  and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Central Committee meeting of Parliament regarding a discussion with the CFT concerning the financial situation of Sint Maarten

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on, February 18, 2020.

The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 11.45 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is:

Discussion with the CFT concerning the financial situation of Sint Maarten (IS/513/2019-2020 dated February 3, 2020)

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Central Committee meeting of Parliament about Government’s new policy on the issuance of labour permits

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on, February 17, 2020.

The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday at 13.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor will be present.

The agenda point is:

Government’s new policy on the issuance of labour permits, as published in the National Gazette on Friday, February 7, 2020 (IS/570/2019-2020 dated February 14, 2020)

This meeting was requested by MP S.M. Bijlani, MP R. Brison, MP G.S. Heyliger- Marten and MP O.E.C. Ottley

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Plenary Public session of Parliament about General Audit Chamber

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Plenary Public session on Monday, February 17, 2020.

The Public meeting which was adjourned on January 21, 2020 will be reconvened on Monday at 9.30 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. 

The agenda points are:

  1. Advice on appointment Chairperson General Audit Chamber (IS/210/2019-2020 dated October 29, 2019)
  2. Advice on appointment member General Audit Chamber (IS/277/2019-2020 dated November 8, 2019)

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.  

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 www.pearlfmradio.sxvia the internet www.sxmparliament.organd Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten

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Ministry VROMI Traffic Alert: Pothole road repairs continues this weekend

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that its pothole road repair program will continue this weekend.

The works will be carried out by Windward Roads during the evenings hours and weather permitting.

On Saturday, February 15, road repair crews will be working on the Sucker Garden road; Sunday, February 16, Juancho Yrausquin boulevard and the Nisbeth road; Monday, February 17, Nisbeth road and Cannegieter street; Tuesday, February 18, Cannegieter street; and Wednesday, February 19, Arch road.  

Motorists are advised to be vigilant and observant of the traffic diversion directional signs as well as road crews who will be busy carrying out asphalt patch work.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

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CAft: “2020 Draft budget is not sufficiently substantiated”

ARUBA - The draft budget of Aruba for the financial year 2020 closes with a budget surplus of 0.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Herewith the standard for the budget surplus as reflected in the protocol agreed with the Netherlands is met. For the first time in years, the nominal debt and staff expenditures - including those of the budget funds - will decrease.

It is important that Aruba indicate in a substantiated manner how the reduction in the personnel expenditures can be guaranteed as well for more years to come. Furthermore, on the revenue side, the substantiation of estimated incidental income should also be improved. The Board of financial supervision Aruba (CAft) calls for more attention to the seeking and applying of opportunities to reduce government expenditures - instead of increasing taxes - in order to achieve lasting and sustainable public finances.

 2020 Draft budget

For most structural measures in the draft budget no decisions have been made yet pertaining to income - for an amount of AWG 111 million. As a consequence, there is an undeniable risk that the realization of these income increases will be delayed, resulting in a deficit. Incidentally, Aruba places too much emphasis on income increases to realize a budget surplus. In consideration of lasting and sustainable public finances, it is important to reduce spending. Aruba needs to submit the budget to Parliament in the short term, allowing it to now be adopted without further delay.

Expenditures for personnel

In accordance with the 2019 cooperation protocol between Aruba and the Netherlands dated November 22nd, 2018, entitled "Setting the path towards solid, transparent and sustainable public finance of Aruba", Aruba should reduce personnel expenditures annually starting January 2019. For the year 2020, an agreement has been made that the personnel expenditures, including employer's expenses, amount to a maximum of AWG 476 million. This includes the personnel expenditures of the Interim Budget Fund Social Crisis Plan (IBSCP). If this is achieved, the excessive staff costs will decrease for the first time in years. This is a major trend break. The substantiation of the estimate of these expenditures has to improve, making it also clear how this nominal decrease will be continued on the long run.

Tax reform

The tax reform initiated last year is still delayed. The objective is to modify and, where possible, simplify the system of charges and taxes. The CAft emphasizes that urgent decision-making about the tax reform is urgently needed. It is also important that further measures are taken in the short term to ensure that whoever owes tax and premiums, will also pay these.

The CAft visited Aruba on February 13th and 14th. Meetings were held with, amongst others, the Governor, the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Culture, the Minister of Justice, Security and Integration, the Council of Ministers and Parliament. In addition, the CAft met with the management of the Social Insurance Bank (SVb).

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Cft: “Curaçao has to take solid steps to get budget in order”

CURACAO - Despite meaningful steps Curaçao has taken to get the budget in order, the year 2019 will close again with a deficit. The Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) has observed that so far too much emphasis has been placed on increasing income rather than reducing expenditures. Especially in combination with economic reforms, the reduction of expenditures can drive economic growth and improve the balance of payments.

There is still a considerable task for the year 2020. For example, the operating costs of the new hospital are 81 million guilders higher than they were for the old hospital Sehos. Additionally, some tax revenues have been overestimated, whilst it should be taken into consideration that the budgeted dividends from CBCS and RdK will not be paid out. Furthermore, measures such as the zero line (‘nullijn’) for civil servants are delayed.

According to the instruction given by the Kingdom Council to Curaçao on July 12th, 2019, the country should compensate for the deficits from the year 2017 and 2018 by utilizing surpluses on the common service in the years 2020 to 2022. In 2017 a deficit of 116.8 million guilders on the common service was realized. The 2018 draft financial statements closed with a negative balance of 58.5 million guilders on the common service.

In the coming weeks, the audit of the financial statements should show whether this deficit will continue to increase. For the time being, the total of deficits for 2017 and 2018 is stipulated at 175 million guilders. It has now also become clear that 2019 will close with a deficit. This shortage will have to be compensated as well.

CMC and health care

Both the new hospital Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) and health care pose financial risks for Curaçao's budget: in the short term, these are related amongst others to the higher operating costs for the hospital and health care. In August last year, the Government submitted a request to the Cft for an additional loan of a maximum amount of 200 million guilders for the new hospital. It is crucial that Curaçao indicates how these higher operating costs will be compensated by concrete adjustments in the hospital care. This will also be verified in a second opinion of the SOAB, and it is crucial that this second opinion – which was originally promised to be submitted before December 1st, 2018 – will now be made available swiftly.

Financial risks

The Cft identifies quite a few developments that may affect the country's budget. One of these is the solution that is being sought for the issue with regard to the Girobank. In addition, it is still unclear what the consequences will be of the planned cooperation between Refineria di Kòrsou and the Klesch group, which has shown interest in continuing the refining activities. For the time being, it remains unclear what effects this cooperation will have on Curaçao's economy and budget.

2020 Budget

The measures in the 2020 budget are also delayed and it has already become evident that this budget needs to be adjusted. For example, the dividends for CBCS and RdK as budgeted are not expected to become available. Furthermore, the measures regarding the zero line for civil servants are partly delayed, whilst certain tax estimates will have to be downwardly adjusted. Curaçao has agreed to submit on the short term a budget amendment to provide for it. The Cft has strongly advised to reduce expenditures.

Financial management

The progress on the implementation of the Roadmap, which should lead to an unqualified auditor's statement for the 2021 financial statements, is limited. A total overview and central control seem to be lacking. Technical assistance has been requested for a number of projects and although the Growth Agreement offers opportunities to do so, this has not yet been realized.

The Cft has visited Curaçao from February 10th to 12th, where it met with the Governor, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, Environment and Nature, the Council of Ministers, Financial Committee of Parliament, the Public Audit Bureau Foundation (SOAB), Curaçao Medical Center (CMC), the Coast Guard, the Social Economic Council (SER), the Social Insurance bank (SVB) and the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS).

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Storm Ciara damage bill could reach €150m, but Dennis lies in wait

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The damage to homes and cars caused by storm Ciara over the weekend could go up to around €150m, insurers estimated on Tuesday.

More reports of damage will be coming in over the next few days, the association of insurers Verbond van Verzekeraars said, while the continuing stormy conditions will also influence the final tally.

Insurers had been prepared for reports of damage from all parts of the country, and that is what has happened, association director Richard Weurding said. ‘But Ciara has done less damage than the January storm of 2018 which cost €450m.

This storm was less fierce, and thanks to the warnings of government services and insurers, people were well prepared,’ Weurding said. Dutch homeowners are usually sufficiently insured for damage caused by storms, the association said, although drivers with a minimal WA insurance – around a third of all car owners – will have to foot the bill themselves.

The Netherlands is set to be hit by a second winter storm, storm Dennis, on Sunday, weather bureau Buienradar said.

(DutchNews)

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120 flights cancelled as strong winds continue to buffet the coast

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – More flights to and from Schiphol airport were cancelled on Tuesday as strong winds continue to buffet the Netherlands, particularly in northern coastal areas.

According to local broadcaster NH Nieuws, 120 Tuesday flights have been scrapped, most of which were down to KLM. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in the past two days because of the storms.

The KNMI issued a code yellow weather warning for the west of the country and said winds of up to 90 kph can be expected at times. While in the west there may be sunny spells later in the day, hail and sleet could hit eastern parts, the KNMI said.

The temperature will be no higher than 6 Celsius. Strong winds on Monday night caused further damage in the wake of Sunday’s storm Ciara, with gusts at up to gale force 9 recorded on the Wadden Sea island of Vlieland and in IJmuiden.

There was also localised flooding in some places, due to the combination of the storm, spring tide and high river water levels from Germany and Switzerland. Wednesday will be similar, with strong winds, showers and occasional sunny spells while the rest of the week will be overcast with some rain.

(DutchNews)

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