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Soualiga News (2042)

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin has confidence in legal process

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - The news of the arrest of Member of Parliament Frans Richardson has the attention of Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin according to a press release from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister on Thursday.

The Prime Minister stated in her statement: “It is regrettable that as a young country we find ourselves in this situation once again, where the integrity of the highest body (Parliament) is being tested.

“However I have confidence in our Country’s legal system and am convinced that the truth will eventually emerge from the investigations by the Justice Department”.

The Prime Minister urges persons in the community not to rush to judgement, as this case is still under investigation. “As Prime Minister I stand for the rule of law and I believe the legal process must run its course,” she said while on her working visit to the Netherlands and Belgium.

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THE ROLE OF THE MINISTER IN LABOR DISPUTES

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - With the economy of St. Maarten being faced with the Post-Irma effects, the Ministry of VSA is very cognizant of the amount of labor disputes on the rise.

The community has been calling on the Minister of Labor to take action, however it is important for the community to understand that the role of the Minister/Ministry is to provide advisory support to employers and employees on their rights and the labor laws, mediation services for conflict resolution outside of court, and legal assistance to help those that do not have the financial means to obtain a lawyer if they feel their rights have been abused.

“We take labor relations very seriously, these are going to be difficult times but if we do it together we can come through as a country. We have several programs in place that are aimed to support those displaced through unemployment. Concerns of financial support and maintaining health insurance benefits are also being addressed.

“We want to encourage employers to be complaint in adhering to the labor laws. Compliance in these times is critical to the bouncing back our country and the well-being of our people,” stated Minister Emil Lee at Wednesday’s press briefing.

Persons seeking information pertaining to labor disputes can contact the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel: +1 721 520 5279, or visit the offices at the Bew Government Administration Building located on Pond Island, Philipsburg.

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Chella and the Weird Woman act for primary schools

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Last Wednesday and Thursday the author Loekie Morales visited Genevieve De Weever and the Leonald Connor primary schools to do the ‘Chella Act’ with the students. Morales will be visiting more schools, Morales said in a press statement on Thursday.

“The ‘Chella act is part of Beyond Kultura Events Foundation’s pilot project ‘Beyond Storytelling & reading’, which has started this week.

“Beyond Kultura has donated the books of ‘Chella and the Weird Woman’ to all primary schools in December 2017, to enhance comprehensive reading among the youth. ‘Doing the Chella Act in a very interactive way with the youth makes the story come to life. It also makes the reading of the story much easier for the children,’ Morales stated.

“In the story, children are being warned not to go away with anybody they do not know and to always play in the direct neighborhood of their siblings or cousins.

The thriller has a good ending, which is the usual thing Morales does in her children books.

“Within soon, a raffle will take place, whereby students of all primary schools can participate. The tree best winners will win a book of the ‘Chella and the Weird Woman’.”

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Improvement needed at Crime Prevention Fund says General Audit Chamber

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On February 12, 2018, the General Audit Chamber submitted its report: ‘Quick Scan: Crime Prevention Fund’ to Parliament. In this report, the Audit Chamber presents the findings of an investigation into the financial management of the Crime Prevention Fund.

The Fund is managed by the Minister of Justice. The General Audit Chamber felt that a review of the Crime Prevention Fund was needed because the Fund’s income and expenditures were not correctly and completely accounted for in the 2015 Financial Statement of St. Maarten.

Originally, it was the intention to conduct the Quick Scan of the Crime Prevention Fund using Government’s 2016 Financial Statement, however, this document is still not available. The 2016 Financial Statement was due in September 2017.

In conducting the Quick Scan, the General Audit Chamber sought to develop an overall impression of the size of the fund, its legal compliance, as well as its financial management. In addition, we identified areas in need of improvement. Our investigation reveals a lack of legal compliance, inadequate financial management, and a Minister of Justice who is not ‘in control’.

As a result, there is a risk that the allocation of funds in 2016, did not occur in keeping with the objective of the Crime Prevention Fund. Failing to spend money from the Crime Prevention Fund according to the fund’s objectives, constitutes legal non-compliance, and is a violation of the relevant regulations.

Based on our conclusions, we recommend that the Minister prepares and submits an annual policy plan and financial statement in accordance with the National Ordinance Crime Prevention Fund. Furthermore, we recommend improving financial management by (among other things) developing proper procedures to ensure accountability.

In addition, the Minister needs to ensure that the required quarterly written reports regarding the fund are drafted. These reports must clearly indicate the purpose of expenditures.

In accordance with our audit methodology and protocol, we provided the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice with the opportunity to react to our findings in November 2017. This opportunity is always provided before a report is published. It is unfortunate that the Secretary-General did not respond.

The draft report was also sent to the Minister of Justice in December 2017. The Minister failed to respond within the time allotted to him. Because our methodology requires proper due diligence prior to publishing a report, we granted the Minister two deferments based on his request for more time.

Ultimately, we received the Minister’s reaction a day after the due date, on January 11, 2018. The Minister has an apparatus of full-time staff within the ministry at his disposal. As such, the excuse that higher than normal work pressure caused the late response, is not persuasive.

In addition, we are concerned about the interest and commitment shown by the Minister and his Ministry given the report’s objective; improving the financial management of the Crime Prevention Fund, and ultimately the functioning of the Ministry.

Our task is to research and investigate, to highlight areas for improvement and, where necessary, to make recommendations in the benefit of the country. Proper cooperation is an indispensable component for this process to be successful. The level of cooperation provided for this Quick Scan was not optimal.

This is regrettable, particularly because the Minister publicly expressed his intention to fully cooperate with the General Audit Chamber (Today, June 22nd, 2017). The reality is, sadly, quite different. This is our second investigation at the Ministry of Justice where we have experienced poor cooperation. We remain hopeful that in the future, the Minister of Justice will provide the required level of cooperation.

The report ‘Quick Scan: Crime Prevention Fund’ is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

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STAT begins Pilot Economic Census next month

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Department of Statistics is preparing field operations for an Economic Census, scheduled to start in just over one months’ time.

This upcoming research activity will involve a count of economic units actively operating on Dutch St. Maarten, and collection of general characteristics and financial data from these entities.

Ahead of the full count, STAT will start today with its Pilot Economic Census, to test and evaluate several aspects of the statistical survey namely, organization, questionnaires, interviewers’ workload, response/cooperation and data quality.

A sample of mainly businesses and foundations spread across the island have been selected to participate in the pilot exercise over the next three weeks. STAT is teaming up with local Chamber of Commerce & Industry to increase awareness among the business community about the project, as it will take a strong public & private sector effort to successfully gather critical baseline data on the current state within the business sector, particularly in this post hurricane Irma period.

Now more than ever, our country requires up-to-date, accurate statistics for recovery and development planning. As such STAT is depending on the full cooperation of all entities approached in both this initial piloting phase as well as in the main survey, to supply STAT with as much data as possible, to enable the department to report on market indicators such as number of establishments by type, industry and location, employment by industry along with estimates of economic performance.

STAT concluded on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, an intensive 3-day training for the freelance interviewing team, who is charged with the task of confidentially collecting data from respondents.

STAT continues to remind its stakeholders that all data submitted to the department is handled in strict confidence and is published on an aggregate rather than individual level.

For further information regarding this release, contact STAT at telephone number 542- 5694 or the Economic Census Project Leader, Mr. Jason Grant at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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MHF thankful for donations from private sector and NGO Community

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Last year, after Hurricane Irma devastated St. Maarten, most of Mental Health Foundation’s (M.H.F.) vehicles – vehicles used to help their clients – were either completely destroyed or sustained a lot of damage. Doctor Naeem Juliana, who had worked for the foundation as a medical doctor in 2014 and is currently specializing to become a psychiatrist in the Netherlands, decided to take action and initiated a campaign via 1% Club (crowdsourcing website in the Netherlands), MHF said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“He approached his personal and professional network to raise the funds needed to assist M.H.F. Through his campaign, Doctor Juliana has managed to raise approximately $10,000. He then decided to come to the island – placing his specialization on hold – to help M.H.F for a few months.

“In the aftermath of Irma, Car Rental Avis contacted the Mental Health Foundation concerning the used cars they had on sale. When the M.H.F staff visited Avis, discussed the situation, and saw two appropriate cars, Avis decided to donate the cars to them.

“The cars are now being used to benefit the ambulant care team, who are also responsible for crisis intervention, and for the clients of Faraja – Mental Health’s Foundation day treatment center. M.H.F has also received a significant amount of financial assistance from “Samenwerkende Fondsen” and the “Nederlandse Vertegenwoordiging”.

“By adding this assistance to the $10.000 brought in by the 1% club, MHF has been able to pay for a large bus that will be used to facilitate transportation of the Faraja patients to and from their homes and activities.

“In general, the Mental Health Foundation would like to express its sincere gratitude to Avis, Samenwerkende Fondsen, de Nederlandse Vertegenwoordiging, Astare zorg, GGZ Vervoer, OZ Caribbean, Botika Sorsaka and Ezorg NV in Curacao, Ezorg NV in Curacao, Doctor Naeem and the contributors of the campaign (especially many colleagues at Altrecht GGZ in Utrecht), K1 Britannia Foundation, Red Cross, The Quill Foundation, and Mental Health Caribbean (MHC), Honorable Minister Lee and MP Geerlings, and many others some of whom wish to remain anonymous.

“These generous donations, in the aftermath of devastating hurricane Irma, have enabled the Foundation to continue to be active in the community and support the community’s mental health needs. This support is sincerely appreciated; it has motivated the teams to continue their work regardless of the circumstance and provides for enhanced care for the patients. Thank you,” the MHF concluded in its press statement.

PHOTO CUTLINE: AVIS donated cars.

avis car donation

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CBA Political Candidates Panel Discussion set for Thursday

GREAT BAY - The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performing Arts (CBA) will be hosting a Political Panel Discussion on Thursday, February 15th, 2018 at the Philipsburg Community and Cultural Centre on Backstreet from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The theme chosen for this event is: “The Impact on and Future of the Creative Arts in St. Maarten’s Society.”

This theme is closely linked to the future of the school as well as the future career opportunities for the students. It was deemed important for students to be made aware of the vision of all six (6) Political Parties represented at the panel discussion with regard to the theme, stated Forsythe-Labega, Director of CBA recently.

“This event is very instrumental in helping our 4th, 5th and 6th form students to better understand the electoral proceedings, while broadening their outlook on the importance of exercising their active voting rights. Two candidates of each party will be represented. In the end, the students will be able to make an informed choice as to whom to choose as their representative in Parliament” said Mrs. Forsythe-Labega.

A formal session with questions and answers will be held right after the presentations. Our Moderator will be Miss St. Maarten Shanice Powel. Ms. Powell is a Johnson & Wales and St. Martín University Alumni, active member in her community and she is also the VP Public Relations Officer of the SXM Achievers Toast Masters Club.

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Irmin Hughes and Richards celebrates Ruby Jubilee at PJL

PHILIPSBURG — Information services Manager of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL), Irmin Hughes- Richards celebrated her 40th years of services to the library on Wednesday 13th February 2018.

Irmin Hughes Richards fulfilled many roles from Circulation and Book Mobile Clerk; Circulation Supervisor; Assistant Librarian; Human Resource Officer; Member of the Management Team and currently Information Services Manager.

Mrs. Irmin Hughes –Richards stated “In my own way, I, no as she corrected herself, we  as staff have done all forms of work from parenting, educator, guidance counsellors, supporters, advocates, care takers, humanitarian officers, confidants, advisors and customer service which took me through almost all the ranks of St. Maarten’s library life”.

Irmin Hughes – Richards started out from humble beginnings in St. Maarten Cultural Center which housed the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, as a young shy girl as described by Ans Koolen (former director).

Irmin Hughes _ Richards stated that “there was an opening back in 1978, the interview went well with the then director of the library Mrs. Blanca Hodge, and I automatically got the job. Over the years I have progressed, and even though there have always been challenges to be met to assist one with growing that caused me to achieve what I have and who I am today.

For 40 years Mrs. Irmin Hughes –Richards has dedicated her services to assist the patrons by providing quality information services and assisted the library through its’ an upward evolution.

In recognition of Irmin Hughes-Richards unwavering services to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, a staff luncheon will be held in her honor on Friday February 16th, 2018 Afternoon. In order to facilitate the abovementioned celebration the library would like to announce that we will be closed to the general public at 12pm and will reopen on Saturday 17th , 2018, at 10 am to 1pm.

The Philipsburg Jubilee Library Board, Management and Staff congratulate Mrs. Hughes – Richards on this milestone in her career accomplishments.

library two tue13

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KPSM forensic investigators receive upgrade to finger printing system

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In early February, the Korps Politie Sint Maarten (KPSM) implemented a powerful addition to their existing AFIX Tracker Automated Fingerprint Identification System.  

The AFIX Tracker system was first put into action by the KPSM in 2003 and the fingerprints and palm prints of arrestees have been continuously added to its database since then. The AFIX Tracker system provides the KPSM forensic investigators the ability to immediately search fingerprint and palm print evidence collected at crime scenes against this continually growing database.  

Each new arrest record is automatically searched against all unsolved cases in the database allowing not only powerful investigation of current cases but also the ability to identify perpetrators of cold cases. AFIX Tracker also gives the Korps Politie Sint Maarten the ability to easily collaborate with other agencies in the region. 

The expansion completed this week added a new AFIX Tracker remote workstation and a live- scan system as well as providing training for the forensic investigation team.  The new live-scan system replaces the traditional “ink and roll” method of recording arrestees’ fingerprints and palm prints.  

Now those prints will be captured digitally and will be registered automatically in the AFIX Tracker database.  This new digital method of capturing prints improves efficiency and overall print quality, thereby increasing the forensic investigators’ opportunities to make positive identifications.    

Scott Howard, a representative of Radiant Solutions, the company behind the AFIX Tracker system, spent the last week on the island installing the new systems and working with the forensic investigation team. Howard said the KPSM investigators have made great use of the AFIX Tracker system for many years, but this expansion and the addition of live-scan technology will provide them with formidable new capabilities in their fight against crime in Sint Maarten. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Minister of Finance Ferrier receives Copy of Tax Law

POND ISLAND - On Monday, February 12, at the Government Administration Building, Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier was presented a copy of the book “Fiscale Wetgeving (Tax law) 2018" by the Managing Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Paul van Vliet, Associate Partner.

The Minister is thankful to PricewaterhouseCoopers and will distribute the copies within his cabinet and ministry.

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