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Soualiga News Today (3121)

POLICE GENERAL CONTROL DISCOVERS FOUR STOLEN VEHICLES, ONE PERSON DETAINED

BISHOP HILL, Sint Maarten - The Police department on Tuesday July 15th continued with their general control and acting on tips that came into the police department four stolen vehicles were found on the premises of a home located on Paris Drive in the Bishop Hill area.

These vehicles were two Suzuki SX4 cars, one Kia Sportage jeep and one Hyundai Getz. During the investigation it was clear to see that the VIN-numbers on some of these vehicles were tampered with while the documents for the other vehicle did not correspond for that specific vehicle.

At least one of these cars is known to have been reported stolen on the French Side of the island. At the back of the home where these stolen cars were found a total of 23 marijuana plants were found and confiscated for further investigation.

All vehicles in question and the marijuana were confiscated for further investigation. In connection with this case one man with the initials S.C. was arrested and taken to the police head quarters where he remains in custody for further investigation.

On the same note the police are informing the general public that they should take all necessary precautions to prevent them from becoming a victim of any criminal act.

Recently many vehicles have been stolen, robberies and break-ins taking place on the island and the police are doing their utmost to suppress this situation by launching a general control to find all of these vehicles, have them returned to their rightful owners and arrest those responsible for any criminal act they commit.

There have been some blogs that were posted on local internet-sites trying to intimidate the police officers. The message to those individuals is that the officers will not feel intimidated in any form or fashion and will not stop carrying out their duty by conducting these controls.

Sint Maarten is a free country and the police are here to serve the community by protecting them and providing them with safety and security they deserve. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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POLICE ARRESTS NINE AND CONFISCATES 9 SCOOTERS, CASH AND MARIJUANA

AIRPORT, Sint Maarten - On Monday July 14th at approximately 03.00 p.m. during a patrol by mobile police officers in the Low Lands area, the patrol observed a group of 10 scooters cross the border from the French Side to the Dutch side and headed into the direction of Cole Bay.

The officers informed the Central Police Dispatch what they had seen and asked for back-up in order to control this group of scooters. The officers ordered the scooter riders to stop but they refused to do so.

Instead the riders, one of which is a female increased their speed and headed into the direction of Cole Bay. The police back up that was requested blocked the road in the vicinity of Princess Juliana International Airport forcing the group of scooter riders to turn back to face the officers that were chasing them.

The scooter riders made several attempts to escape from the police by fleeing through the airport parking lot, but were unsuccessful. At one point one rider got through the road block and headed for the French Side.

The female rider fell from her scooter while trying to escape and suffered minor scratches and bruises. One rider during his attempt to escape threw a waist bag into the Simpson Bay Lagoon, which was later recovered. The bag contained several plastic bags of marihuana prepared for distribution and a sum of cash.

These items were confiscated for further investigation. All scooter riders totaling nine were arrested on the spot and also because they could not properly identify themselves. The riders could not produce any documents such as valid drivers’ license, valid insurance and paid road tax for their scooters. All scooters have been confiscated until the documents for them can be shown. The controls will continue. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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GRACITA: “AUTONOMOUS STATUS OF ARUBA MUST BE RESPECTED”

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - “History is about to repeat itself if  the Kingdom Council of Ministers in The Hague, once again miss calculates the passion of the majority of the people of Aruba for their democratically elected leaders. I hope that a timely solution is reached to defuse this constitutional standoff which led Prime Minister Mike Eman of Aruba revert to take a drastic and life threating action, a hunger strike”.  

“Twenty six years after fighting for their ‘Status Aparte’, it is truly sad to witness this sort of drastic action involving the PM of Aruba, a hardworking man who supported a strong relationship with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Let us be clear, this is not an issue between the people of the Netherlands and the people of Aruba. This is a matter between institutions that represent the people.

“I speak not on behalf of Parliament. In the years leading up to Sint Maarten achieving its new Constitutional Status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, my message was and still is, ‘the devil is in the details’. I too am anxiously looking forward to a speedy resolution to this critical matter between The Hague and Aruba. Taking alleged unilateral decisions by the Kingdom Council of Ministers is undemocratic and not in any one’s interest. It did not work in past, it is contra productive today.

“The government of Sint Maarten and regional civic organizations such as the Christian Democrat Organization of America, located in Mexico has sent messages of solidarity with the Aruban people and with PM Eman. This latest constitutional conflict must be on the agenda of the Kingdom Relations Committee as well.

“I sincerely hope that common sense will prevail soonest. There will be no winners or losers if this drama turns into death of Aruba’s Prime Minister. (Statement by United People’s Party Candidate Gracita Arrindell)

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President of the Public Administration Integrity Committee to Present Final Report to Council of Ministers on Tuesday

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The President of the Public Administration Integrity Committee, the Honourable Mr. Justice Jacob Wit, will present the final report of his Committee to the Council of Ministers tomorrow morning.

In its report, titled ‘Doing the right things right’, the Committee has formulated 40 recommendations to improve the integrity of the Sint Maarten Public Administration.

Some of these recommendations could be effected immediately. Others would require new legislation and their implementation could therefore take some more time.

The report will now be studied and discussed by the Council of Ministers, who undertook to send the report and Government’s position on the recommendations to the Governor and Parliament of Sint Maarten and the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom within four weeks from now.

Upon receipt by Parliament, the report of the Public Administration Integrity Committee and the position of the Government of Sint Maarten will become public.  

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DEI concludes Pilot Drop-out Prevention Program

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten – Recently, Division for Educational Innovation (DEI) officially ended its Pilot Drop Out Prevention Program and held a closing ceremony at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort to commemorate a successful ending to a program that is needed on the island.

The Drop Out Prevention program is a pilot prevention and intervention afterschool program aimed at students at risk of dropping out/being expelled from school. The program was completely funded by Usona and was executed during the period of April 2014 to June 2014. The program was also used as a tool to gather data on drop-out prevention/intervention techniques and will offer recommendations to relevant stakeholders such as secondary schools, Government of St. Maarten and NGO’s who offer or wish to offer this type of program.

The program started out with twenty students from the 2nd and 3rd form of St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E who were at risk of failing the year and were having difficulties in school. These twenty students were recommended by the Academy PSVE student care team however the ultimate decision of participation were taken by the parents and the student as the program was on a voluntary basis.

The program was guided by a multi-disciplinary team of workers which consisted of a project manager, program coordinator, psychologist and counselor. The program consisted of tutoring, homework guidance, recreational therapy sessions, social skills and character development classes, motivational sessions and counseling/career guidance sessions. The students were also provided daily lunch and transportation home.  A behavior modification system was used by the program staff in order to promote positive behavior amongst the students.

Nineteen students were awarded certificates for their participation in the program and these were presented at the closing ceremony at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. It was indeed a joyous affair as all the students in attendance were ecstatic about passing or as they call it “going over” to the next form.

The program staff urged students in attendance to continue the hard work and continue using the techniques learnt in the program to assist them with difficulties they may face in the next school year. As a parting gift, each student was presented with an Office World gift voucher to purchase school supplies for the upcoming school year. The evaluation report of the program will be handed over to the Foundation Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE) and the School Manager of St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E.

For further information about the Pilot Dropout Prevention Program, please feel free to contact us at 542-1064 or email the project manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  (Contributed by DEI)

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SHTA Calls for Overhaul of Country's Tax System Once and for All

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the largest private business representative on the island, has taken note of reports in the media with regard to “Dutch assistance for the tax office”.

In the early nineties, St. Maarten was placed under “higher supervision” in part because public finances were not in order and non-compliance was a major issue. Almost 25 years later they still aren’t anywhere near being in order, in fact compliance is still reportedly no better than 30%, and at any rate appears to be decreasing, as reported by the CFT in January 2014.

Since the public sector is still talking about increasing compliance and institutional strengthening, it begs the question; what improvements have been attempted over the last quarter century? And of course; why should we expect a different result this time around?

So many times increasing compliance in St. Maarten means squeezing more out of the 30% than finding the remaining 70%.  Over the last four years alone, there have been many empty promises of tax reform, increased compliance and broadening of the tax-base, but the only thing the public has received is new and increased taxation.

The reports from the CFT point out the deteriorated backlog positions on SZV and APS, without a resolution on which there can be no approved budget for 2015.  However, year after year there is a very notable absence of significant cost-reductions in public sector spending.   With all of this out in the open, we now have a pretty clear indication that we can once again expect “revenue-increasing measures” (a.k.a. tax hikes) to be implemented within short. Measures that clearly the current formal economy cannot sustain without real gains on reducing the informal economy and spreading the taxable base. 

It seems clear to the SHTA that after 25 years of trying to “fix” our current fiscal system we can safely say that it has proven itself to be un-fixable, and by all comparisons outdated.  Why not dust off advices from previous committees, paid and unpaid consultants—including the SHTA, and finally design a fiscal system that is simple to administer, easy to understand for all citizens, with a lower effective rate, thereby reducing the desire for companies and individuals to operate outside of it. Something that has been proven all over the world to be the best driver for increasing both compliance and revenues. Indeed, why not?  Now is the opportunity, clean it up once and for all. (Contributed by the SHTA)

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Minister Lake says Waste to Energy Plant for Sint Maarten Very Near

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake said on Sunday that the Council of Ministers and the Legal Affairs & Legislation Department are currently reviewing the draft waste to energy plant concession agreement related to the Solid Waste Processing Plant for Sint Maarten.

Synergy, a U.S. company won the final bid.

Minister Lake said that he has been working diligently on concluding the Waste to Energy project during the past 12-months that he has been a minister.

“The landfill on Pond Island has to go.  At the moment it is getting larger and higher and its capacity is getting smaller as each day goes by.  From time to time you have fire breaking out on the landfill, and this is not good for the surrounding communities. 

“When I became Minister in June 2013 I have worked diligently to get to the point where we are at now.  We have a company that has been selected and the waste concession agreement is under discussion. There are a number of things taking place at the same time in order to have a successful conclusion.  NV GEBE is in discussion with Synergy as well.

“This is a major milestone and I hope to sign off on the agreement prior to the end of my term as minister.  I have to give a lot of credit to the Steering Committee, Kema as well as the legal team for bringing us to this point.

“The waste to energy facility for the country will bring forth positive developments that will improve the quality of life of the people of this country.  The ever-growing landfill will be reduced over time and the waste produced will be turned into energy.

“Recycling will also be introduced as this is an integral part of the process,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Sunday.

Minister Lake added that waste to energy is one key component of the country becoming less reliant on fossil fuels which are polluting the globe and leading to climate change. 

“I have been working closely with NV GEBE with respect to studies in the area of renewable energies, such as the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). 

“The black smoke emanating from the smoke stack at the Cay Bay NV GEBE power plant is also being studied to see what technology has to be installed to do away with this.  It’s going to be a win win for all, and a win win for Sint Maarten,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Sunday.

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POLICE CONTROL 500 VEHCILES AS PREVENTATIVE MEASURE CONTINUES

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Police Department as of July 3rd has been busy conducting general controls at various locations on the island.

To date approximately 500 vehicles were stopped and checked, 15 vehicles were towed and 90 fines were given.

Many drivers were warned for not wearing their seatbelt and their vehicles having tinted windows. These controls will continue. (Contributed by the Police Department of Sint Maarten) 

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CRIME SITUATION REMAINS HIGH ON PRIORITY LIST FOR PARLIAMENTARIAN JANCHIE LEONARD

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Addressing crime activity as experienced in past months, on St. Maarten, remains high on the priority list for parliamentarian Johan Leonard.

The UP parliamentarian says that while concern for the most recent armed robberies is certainly warranted, a remedial approach requires structural solutions, empowering law enforcement agencies and the judicial chain, in general, to address the issue.

Leonard praised the police force for their quick response to a daring daylight robbery last Friday, which led to the arrest of suspects in the case. The parliamentarian is of the opinion that the police officers in question performed professionally while apprehending the suspects without possible casualties to civilians. He said that the case illustrated how suspects can be quickly apprehended when citizens volunteer information.

Meeting with Minister of Justice

According to Leonard, parliament looks forward to a meeting with the Minister of Justice to exchange views on safety and security of St. Maarten in general, and the recent acts of violent crime, in particular.

The minister’s presence in parliament had been expected recently but could not take place due to scheduling conflicts.

Leonard says that having had over 40 years of experience in law enforcement; he continues to look forward to putting this expertise at the disposal of the people St. Maarten, in a not too distant future, adding that residents “have every right to expect greater safety and security in their own communities”.

Forms of Cooperation

Parliamentarian Leonard is of the opinion that forms of cooperation contributes to maintaining confidence in our police force and the ability of our own officers to play a decisive role in curbing crime, sometimes risking their own lives, in the process.   

But while law enforcement agencies and members of the judicial chain do what they are called upon to do, it is really up to all of, as a community, to remain alert and assist in doing everything possible to curb crime and restore the situation to a more adequate level of public safety.

New initiatives are always welcome and may very well  compliment earlier proposals made by the then St Maarten Police Force to carry out highly visible ‘zero tolerance controls’, at strategic locations on St. Maarten.

Leonard recalls Operation Trust as having been an effective mechanism in the fight against crime and the influence of crime prevention.

“It would appear as if criminals are becoming more reckless and this we cannot accept”, says Leonard. He advocates an approach whereby criminals involved in any form of criminal activity, in our community, should be put on notice that response to their activities will be swift and decisive.

Law and order policies

Member of Parliament Leonard believes that cooperation and joint controls amongst the different entities within the Justice Ministry is of great importance in order to combat crime, on St. Maarten, more effectively. Leonard says that he will be “championing the aforementioned idea wholeheartedly, upon receiving the mandate of the law abiding citizens of St. Maarten”.

The parliamentarian says that once returned to parliament he, along with his faction, would seek to get budget support enabling an inventory of the resources and personnel needed for the implementation of law and order policies in St. Maarten, over the course of the next four years. 

Recognizing the importance of human resources in any attempt to improve the present situation, Leonard appeals to the Minister of Justice to pay keen attention to the employment conditions and concerns of members of police force in St. Maarten. (Contributed by UP Candidate Janchie Leonard)

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Two Robbers Apprehended on Friday after Front Street Jewelry Store Heist

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - At approximately 10.45 a.m. on Friday morning July 11th several phone calls came into the Central Police Dispatch informing them of an armed robbery going on at Dazzling Gem, a jewelry store on Front Street opposite Passangrahan Hotel.

The callers also stated that three or four armed persons were involved in the robbery and that a motorcycle or scooter and silver colored Kia Picanto with license P-6030 were used to flee the scene.

Three armed and masked men dressed in dark clothing stormed into the establishment. One robber had a handgun and the other two robbers each had a hammer. The manager and employees were held at gunpoint while other two smashed and grabbed the jewelry from the showcases.  

A male tourist who saw what was going attacked one of the robbers but was overpowered by the other two robbers who struck him on his head with their weapons injuring him.

After committing their act the robbers fled the scene. Immediately after receiving this information several police patrols and off duty police officers were mobilized. Philipsburg and surrounding area were immediately completely locked down causing major traffic back-up.

All vehicles going out and coming in to Philipsburg were checked. A search by police and detectives to arrest the suspects and locate the vehicles used in the robbery followed because did not have the opportunity to escape.

During the search silver colored Kia Picanto was located in the Over the Bank area. This car was confiscated for further investigation by the Forensic Department. Shortly after, the suspect that was riding the motorcycle was seen by an officer involved in the search took off at high speed  through the streets.

The suspect was chased by police and in the area of the Government Administration building several warning shots were fired by police, however the suspect continued fleeing from police who followed him on foot. The suspect lost control of the motorcycle in the area of the post office and fell on the ground.  

The suspect took off on foot after throwing something on the roof of building in the area. The suspect was arrested on the scene by the officers and taken to the Philipsburg Police station.

During the search on the roof a bag containing an amount of jewelry was found and confiscated for further investigation. Based on information that came in a second suspect in this case was arrested at his home in Sucker Garden. Both suspects remain in custody for further investigation.

The male tourist injured in this case was treated by the paramedics on the scene and then taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment.

The case is under investigation by the Detective Department.

The Police Department wants to thank entire community and in particular those persons who have called the 911 line to give information regarding this case which was very instrumental and has lead to at least two arrests in the case. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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