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Consumer prices Sint Maarten February 2017. Prices have decreased compared to December 2016

PHILIPSBURG - The Consumer Price Index for Sint Maarten has decreased in the month of February 2017 by 0.1 percent compared to that of December 2016.

When comparing average consumer prices over a twelve-month period (February 2016 to February 2017), compared to one year earlier, an inflation rate of 0.5% is recorded. This is evident from the data released by the Department of Statistics (STAT) today.

Price changes between February 2017 & December 2016

The Consumer Price Index for Sint Maarten has decreased in the month of February 2017 by 0.1 percent compared to that of December 2016. The price index recorded in February 2017 is 128.1

Expenditure Categories – overall decrease

In February 2017, five of the nine expenditure categories became more expensive, three became less expensive and one remain unchanged. Amongst the more expensive were the categories; ‘Food’ (+0.8%), ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ (+0.1%), ‘Medical Care’ (4.7%), ‘Recreation & Education’ (0.6%), and ‘Miscellaneous’ (0.2%). Whereas decreases were recorded for the expenditure categories; ‘Clothing and Footwear’ (-0.1%), ‘Household furnishing & appliances’ (-0.7%), and ‘Transport & Communication’ (-1.6%). The expenditure category ‘Housing’ remained stable.

FOOD EXPENDITURE CATEGORY 10% of CPI

Within the expenditure category Food, it can be noted that eight of the nine food groups became more expensive and one remained unchanged. The following food groups recorded increases; Grain (+1.0), Meat and Fish (+0.8%), Dairy Products (+2.3%), Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit (+0.6%), Sugar & Chocolate (+1.0%), Pre-cooked dishes (+2.4%), Eating-out (+0.4%), other food resources (+0.5%), while Fats & Oils showed no change.

More specifically the following products largely influenced the total price change within the food groups:‘Grain’,thiswaslargelyinfluencedbysmallbreadsn.e.c.2(+8.0%). The food group ‘Meat & Fish’, was largely influenced by beef (+6.4%), pork chop (with and without bone) +5.3%, Spareribs (6.6%), pork meat n.e.c. (-7.1%), chicken and chicken organs (+2.3%) other fish n.e.c. (-2.0%). The food group ‘Dairy Products’ was largely influenced by; canned milk (-2.0%), and eggs (+28.2%). The food group ‘Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit’ was largely influenced by; cabbage (+14.4%), carrots and garlic (+8.1%), onions (+2.9%), tomatoes (-4.1%), paprika (-6.5%), fresh herbs (-7.4%), other fresh vegetables (+16.8%), fresh vegetables n.e.c. (-7.4%), frozen vegetables (-26.3 group ‘Pre-cooked dishes’ was largely influenced by desserts and salads (+20.7). The food group ‘Other foods n.e.c.’ was largely influenced by tomato ketchup (+5.7%) and other sauces (-4.2%).

HOUSING EXPENDITURE CATEGORY

39% of CPI

Within the expenditure category Housing, it is noted that just one of five product groups became more expensive, while two became less expensive and two were unchanged. The product group ‘Dwelling costs’ increased by +0.4%, while ‘Energy expenses’ and ‘Maintenance of dwelling’ decreased by -1.4% and -1.0% respectively.

A decrease in the consumer price of electricity by -1.3% largely influenced the total price change within the product group ‘Energy expenses’, and a decrease in the consumer price of paint by -2.9% impacted the Product group: ‘Maintenance of dwelling’.

TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION EXPENDITURE CATEGORY?20% of CPI

Within the expenditure category Transport & Communication, one of four product groups became more expensive, one remained stable and two were less expensive. The product group ‘Vehicle Expenses’ recorded a price change, namely a decrease of -0.5%. The price change amongst the products; car parts (-9.7%), tires (+6.4%), batteries (-25.4%) and gasoline (+6.1%) largely influenced this product group.

Sint Maarten Consumer Price Index a Broader Perspective

Though the trend over the past 3-year period depicts gradual increasing consumer prices; we note that prices have steadily declined during the period August 2015 through to April 2016; this is evident in the bar chart below. Significant is the steady increase of the index during the latter part of 2016 and stabilization at the start of 2017. Over the last 3 years; consumer prices have shown quite some volatility, but seem to be edging back upwards, with this trend holding through in 2017.

Inflation Sint Maarten February 2017

The 12-month average of consumer prices in February 2017 is 0.5 percent higher than a year earlier, an increase of 4 percentage points.

Three of the nine expenditure categories account for 69 percent of Household expenditure; these are ‘Housing’ (39%), ‘Transportation and Communication’ (20%) and ‘Food’ (10%). When looking at the monthly developments of inflation amongst these categories we note that Food inflation has continued to drop, deflation has been maintained in the Transport & Communication category while inflation has returned in the Housing category during the last two months. 

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Tropical Development is Possible to the East of the Lesser Antilles Next Week

SINT MAARTEN/CARIIBEAN - Some of the model guidance, the GFS model in particular, are persistent in forecasting tropical development next week from a tropical wave that is now located in the eastern Atlantic, Crown Weather reported on Saturday.

“Satellite imagery and surface weather analysis indicated that there are two active tropical waves over the eastern Atlantic. The first tropical wave is located along 28 West Longitude and the second tropical wave is located right along the coast of Africa. There is scattered thunderstorm activity occurring with both tropical waves, however, there is no organization associated with either tropical wave.

“A look at the environmental conditions across the eastern Atlantic reveals that there is 10 knots or less of wind shear across much of the eastern and central Atlantic and this is favorable for additional development. On the other hand, there is quite a bit of dry air evident from 35 West Longitude westward through the Lesser Antilles and this dry air should, in theory, put a cap on any sort of tropical development.

The GFS model guidance has been wavering between forecasting significant development of this system and forecasting some development from it. One item that is consistent with the GFS model is that it forecasts at least some tropical development next week along and west of 40 West Longitude by the middle part of next week.

“In addition, the GFS model guidance has been fairly consistent in forecasting some threat of a tropical depression or a tropical storm across the northern Lesser Antilles and the northeastern Caribbean next weekend.

“The Canadian model guidance is now on board in forecasting tropical development by Tuesday or Wednesday around 40 West Longitude. In addition, the Canadian model guidance

“The European model guidance is now starting to trend towards forecasting development of the tropical wave over the eastern Atlantic around Tuesday or Wednesday near 40 West Longitude. It should be noted; however, the European model is weak in its forecast development.

“The UKMET model guidance is now also on board with forecasting at least some tropical development between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa towards the middle part of next week.

“Looking at the ensemble guidance, 80 percent of the GFS ensemble guidance forecasts tropical development next week between 30 and 40 West Longitude with a overall track towards the northeastern Caribbean by next weekend. In addition, the European ensemble guidance is pointing towards a 70 percent chance for tropical development between 30 and 40 West Longitude next week.

My thinking right now is that we could see the two tropical waves over the eastern Atlantic gradually merge into one tropical disturbance over the next few days. In addition, it is highly unlikely that we will see tropical development with this disturbance this weekend or early next week.

“As this disturbance approaches the 30-40 West Longitude corridor around Tuesday and Wednesday, there is the potential that we could see it organize and strengthen. Whether it strengthens to the point of becoming a tropical depression remains to be seen.

“At this point, I think there is a 25 percent chance that we will see a tropical depression form to the east of the Lesser Antilles between 30 and 40 West Longitude around Tuesday or Wednesday.

“With that said, I do think that this system may have a difficult time developing, especially when it pushes west of 40-45 West Longitude later next week where dry, dusty air could put a cap on any sort of tropical development.

“Everyone across the Lesser Antilles, especially those of you over the Northeastern Caribbean should keep a close eye on this system. There is the possibility that it could impact you next weekend as, at the minimum, a strong tropical disturbance and very possibly as a tropical depression or a tropical storm.”

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Cft chairman Age Bakker: “Saba stays on track”

SABA - The Board of financial supervision of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) concluded on June 28 that Saba still has its public finances in order. Even though 2016 was characterized by a number of financial setbacks plus the absence of some key staff members of the finance department, the 2016 financial statements show a surplus.

Also, the auditing accountant has indicated that an unqualified audit statement will be provided. The Executive Council received compliments for this achievement. “Saba has once again proved to have its affairs well in order,” Cft Chairman Age Bakker stated.

During the Cft visit on June 28, the Executive Council discussed the financial situation of the public entity, the financial downturns during 2016 and the budget execution in 2017.

The year 2016 ended with a positive result of USD 69,063. This is shown in the 2016 financial statements, which will receive for the third year in a row an unqualified opinion from the accountant.

The 2017 budget execution is going according plan, as can be seen in the first quarter progress report. The Cft further submitted a positive advise on the first budget amendment, as submitted in 2017.

The Executive Council expressed its concern about the incidental funding of projects, which leads to structural burdens for the public entity, as is the case with the recycling plant.

Cft also discussed with the Executive Council the BES pension legislation for (former) political officials. Due to various causes, this pension legislation has led to unexpectedly high costs in both 2015 and 2016.

It has been agreed that the Cft together with the public entities will analyze the financial aspects of the relevant pension legislation more closely.

This visit of the Board to Saba was also to bid farewell to the current chairman Age Bakker, who is departing as of July 1, 2017. Cft, together with the members of the Executive Council, looked back on a successful collaboration.

The Cft chairman expressed his appreciation for the enormous steps taken by the public entity over the past six years. During the visit Mr. Herbert F. Domacassé was also introduced. He was appointed as the new Cft member on behalf of the public entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as per July 1st, 2017.

Starting July 1st, 2017 Cft Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba will consist of Raymond Gradus (Chairman), Sybilla Dekker and Herbert Domacassé. 

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Prime Minister William Marlin Condolence Message on the Passing of Aline Hanson 

POND ISLAND – On Friday, Prime Minister William Marlin released via the Department of Communication his condolence message with respect to the passing of former President of the Collectivite St. Martin Aline Hanson.

“It is with a heavy heart that I received the sad news of the passing of Aline Hanson, the first female president of the Territorial Collectivity of St. Martin. I have had the privilege of knowing her personally for many years.

“We both shared the same passion for education and politics. Her belief in and love for the whole island was unshakable. Madame President as she was fondly called represented the very best in St. Martin womanhood. She was strong, courageous, determined, loving and caring. 

“For her politics and friendship were two different things. She could be on opposing sides with you politically but still remained very good friends with you. That is part of the St. Maarten character which has made this island so unique.

“As we mourn her loss, I pray that we would always remember not to allow politics or any other forces to divide us. On behalf of the Government and people of St. Maarten (south) and on behalf of my family and myself, I wish to extend heartfelt condolences to the Territorial Council and our brothers and sisters in the North, and in particular to the Hanson family and all the relatives and friends she left behind. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” Prime Minister Marlin’s condolence message concludes.

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CPS reminding men to take action to apply and maintain a healthy life style. Wear Blue

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – Sint Maarten’s calendar of health observances is to promote particular local or global health issues, and encourage the male population to be proactive and consult their physicians before onset of disease.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, is calling on the community to wear blue.  This is part of the department’s annual calendar of observances.

CPS would like to see men and boys live longer, happier, and healthier lives, and is calling on all fathers’ and boys to consult their physician to determine their risk factors.

Get educated about your health and your risk of inherit health condition, and the diseases that can affect you; get screened and tested to be sure you are healthy; make annual visits to the doctor; eat healthier; and be more active and monitor your health.

CPS encourages Sint Maarten men and boys to make healthy choices and to live a healthy lifestyle.

Once you feel or notice a change in your body’s usual pattern, you should consult your physician, CPS advises.  Men, who live healthy, routinely exercise, consume nutritional and sizeable meals and adhere to safe preventive tips. 

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USM Celebrates Double Graduation Ceremonies

POND ISLAND - The twenty-third commencement ceremony for Degree Graduates of the University of St. Martin (USM) took place on Saturday, June 24th. Forty graduates received their degrees, with thirty-seven receiving their Associate’s Degrees and three receiving BTEC certificates.

Several students graduated with honours, as one student graduated summa cum laude, two graduated magna cum laude and four graduated cum laude. Awards were also presented to the following graduates: Shevonne Richardson, who earned the highest GPA of the graduating class, and thus the recipient of the Award for Academic Excellence.

Rochana Richardson, the graduate who has provided the most support to the University received the President’s Award and Christela Pierre and Alexandra Baly-Stanford both received the Board of Directors Award, and Ms. Patti Maier with the Faculty of the year award.

The ceremony was held at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa. Among those in attendance were dignitaries, staff, faculty, upper management of the university and well-wishers. A combination of congratulatory and encouraging speeches were presented.

USM alumni and PhD candidate Rolinda Carter also made an appearance as the keynote speaker. Plans were revealed of a revolutionized USM campus with dormitories and updated classroom technologies. This presentation was given by Mr. Danny Ramchandani member of the USM Board of Directors. 

The second celebratory moment happened on Wednesday, June 28th, at the University of St Martin campus, where 13 persons graduated from the English as a Second Langauge (ESL) program given to teachers on St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.

The French-speaking teachers completed their level 3 certificate and are eager to complete all 6 levels.  However, this does not end the procession of graduates to come out of the university this year. USM plans to host the next graduation ceremony for the GED and Pre-USM on August 5th, 2017. 

The team at USM encourages interested persons to apply for the Fall semester before July 9th, 2017. Applications can be submitted online via www.usm.sx. For more information visit the website or the campus today!

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Sint Maarten on track in combating human trafficking and human smuggling

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – The National Coordinator for human trafficking, has the lead in combating human trafficking and human smuggling in Sint Maarten.

The Director of Immigration & Border Protection Service (IBP) is tasked in overseeing these responsibilities. The National Reporting Bureau on Human Trafficking (NRB), is the executing agency for prevention & protection on Human Trafficking.

On Monday, June 26 marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. It is also an international recognized day in support of Victims of Torture.

In December 1987 the UN General Assembly decided to observe June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Sint Maarten has been paving its way to address the aforementioned problems, as part of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) 16, on Peace, Justice and strong Institutions, from a local perspective.

The establishment of the NRB is a major step in combating Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling in Sint Maarten, using an organized and structured approach.

Since its inception in September 2013, the NRB has worked intensively to present themselves to the public and its stakeholders and thus creating support in the execution of its duties. The NRB has been actively engaged during this period with the implementation of the agreements set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling as well as the actions to be implemented within the framework of the U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports.

In its short existence the NRB has acquired results from its intended objectives. The number of comments and messages received by the bureau so far testify to the successful approach of this organization.

For crimes against personal freedom, including human trafficking, the Penal Code provides heavier penalties compared to the old Penal Code of the former Netherlands Antilles.

Moreover, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of May 16, 2005 has led to strengthening of the criminal law in Sint Maarten on the subject of human trafficking.

The change in the new Penal Code expressly addresses the criminal offence, different forms of participation, and penalties as well as aggravating circumstances. This broadened legal blanket ensures that a perpetrator at every level and degree of involvement in trafficking of persons is able to be held accountable for the role they play in this heinous practice. In addition special attention is given to the protection of child victims of trafficking.

It is worth mentioning that in the US TIP report 2016, St. Maarten fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and has been elevated from tier 2 Watch list to tier 1.

The Government of Sint Maarten is extremely proud of this, particularly because of the large amount of effort that has gone into combating and addressing any issues related to human trafficking. In addition, a number of workshops bringing together relevant stakeholders including senior law enforcement, Red Cross, and medical officials have taken place on Sint Maarten to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking.

The different aspects of Human Trafficking can be broken down in: Domestic Servitude; Forced Labour and Exploitation and Sexual Slavery.

A major accomplishment was the implementation of the “Temporary Residency”- policy guideline by the Minister of Justice in December 2015. The National Reporting Bureau on Human Trafficking granted the first temporary residence permit to an exploited victim and his family while their case was under investigation.

The temporary residency regulation serves as a way to encourage the victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of offenders of human trafficking.

In 2015/2016, several investigations in Human Trafficking was conducted in brothels, targeting the owners. Appeals were made by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to Government requesting that administrative measures be taken against establishments which were involved in Human Trafficking violations, such as revoking their licenses. 

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Preparatory workshops for students begin shortly

PHILIPSBURG - Preparatory workshops are being conducted for study financing recipients who will be pursuing their studies in the Netherlands. These sessions are being held at NIPA during the hours 9.00 A. M. - 1.00 P.M.

Various topics are being presented such as: Academic accountability, Dutch rights & obligations, Do’s Don’ts & dangers of life in the Netherlands, budgeting and understanding the educational system among others.

The students who are scheduled to pursue their studies in the Netherlands will depart on July 30, 2017. Two staff members of Division Study Financing will accompany them.

An orientation week is being organized for the students in the Netherlands during the period July 31-August 5. Various activities and sessions will take place in order to ensure a smooth transition from St. Maarten to the Netherlands.

On Wednesday July 05, 2017, the Division Study Financing will be conducting a preparatory workshop for study financing recipients who will be pursuing their studies in the USA, Canada, England, Curacao, St. Maarten at NIPA.

The main goal of the preparatory workshop is to ensure that study financing recipients are well prepared for living and studying abroad, to promote financial responsibility and good study habits.

Attendance to these preparatory workshops is mandatory.

This session will be held during the hours 08.45 A.M. – 12.30 P.M

The dates of departure for the students leaving for the USA and other countries/islands within the region may vary. However, students who will be pursuing their studies at Tallahassee Community College are scheduled to leave on August 8th, 2017.

The Division Study Financing has also organized the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.) preparatory workshops for study financing recipients who will be pursuing their studies in the United States.

The main goals of these workshops are to ensure that study financing recipients are well prepared for the P.E.R.T. test.

The Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.) is Florida’s common placement test. The purpose of the P.E.R.T. is to determine accurate course placement based on the student's skills and abilities. It is aligned with the Postsecondary Readiness Competencies identified by Florida faculty as necessary for success in entry-level college credit course work. The P.E.R.T. assessment system includes Placement and Diagnostic tests in mathematics, reading and writing.

Attendance to these preparatory workshops is mandatory.

The P.E.R.T. workshops will be held from Monday July 10th 2017 through July 14th 2017, from 8:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at St. Dominic High school.

For more information, please contact the Division of Study Financing at +1721 542 5497 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Dutch food producers agree to stop adding sugar to jars of vegetables

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Food producers have reached agreement with supermarkets to stop putting sugar in jars of summer vegetables from next year, following pressure from consumer groups.

Jars of sweet corn, peas, carrots and marrowfat peas currently have added sugar but this will stop next year. Producers have also agreed to reduce the salt content of jars of French and runner beans and look into reducing the amount of sugar and salt added to winter veg such as red cabbage.

The deal covers both branded and own label products. Food lobby group Foodwatch published research last year showing sugar was added to 79 out of 170 different jars and tins of vegetables found in Dutch supermarkets, including organic products.

Absurd

The organisation welcomed the industry change of heart, describing it as ‘absurd’ to add sugar to the most healthy part of a meal. The sugar reduction is part of a wider agreement between the food industry and government to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and fat in processed food.

The agreement is self-regulatory and in April, the public health institute RIVM said not enough had been done to cut back on salt, despite earlier pledges. (DutchNews)

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