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Soualiga News II (1676)

Island Governor Franco meets Statia Reconstruction Team

ST. EUSTATIUS - On Thursday February 15th, Mr. Mike Franco, Island Governor, met with management of Statia Reconstruction Team where he received an update on the housing recovery of St. Eustatius financed by the Dutch Central Government.

Project Manager Mr. Mel Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco and his team provided Mr. Franco with an extensive tour on the site of storage and distribution of building material and other supplies.

On location they provided detailed information regarding the efforts to (re)build almost a 100 projects that needs to be completed before the emerging hurricane season.

The reconstruction project is scheduled to complete all approved projects well before the peak of the 2018 hurricane season.

Cooperation has been sought with several social organizations (‘Mega D Youth Foundation’, ‘New Challenges Foundation’ and ‘Statia Pride’) to carry out several community projects to help beautify and recapture the spirit of Statia in colours.

As Mr. Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco said at earlier meetings: ‘The recovery of this beautiful island comes from the heart.’ More information will be shared within short.

On September 6th and 15th, 2017 St. Eustatius was affected by the ravage of hurricanes Irma and Maria leaving some residents without a roof and others with varying levels of damages to their dwellings.

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Community Councils, Businesses, Organizations and Interested Persons Invited to a Meeting about Mosquito Prevention Measures

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Interested persons, business owners, community councils/leaders, institutions and organizations, are invited to a “Community Stakeholders Meeting for Health, Recovery & Development,” on Tuesday, February 20, to share views with respect to the prevention of mosquito borne diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

The objective is also to rebuild and strengthen normal vector activities and surveillance operations for the benefit of protecting the local citizens and preventing current and future public health challenges as it relates to mosquito borne diseases.

The community stakeholders meeting will take place in the Conference Room at the Government Administration Building from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

The opportunity is being provided for community stakeholders to share their views regarding the recovery and development of Sint Maarten. The meeting is also relevant for healthcare providers, agriculturists/farmers, contractors, travel agencies, tourism and hospitality sector businesses, the media, garbage contractors/collectors, pest exterminators, and tire repair shops and garages.

Everybody has a part to play in building Sint Maarten into a stronger, smarter, and a more collaborative community where it concerns the fight against mosquito borne diseases.    

The stakeholders meeting is a collaborative effort of the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) from the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, and VectorStars.

Persons, businesses and organizations can also provide written feedback and suggestions via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 15, 2018. Feedback may be submitted also in hard copy to the offices of CPS at the W.G. Buncamper Road #33, Vineyard Building Office Park.

For additional information, you can call: 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 or 542-1570.

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New CLA for Central Government workers Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - On November 30th and December 1st ,2017 the employment conditions negotiations for the civil servants started. It was a wish of the unions to have an agreement in time because of the expiring CAO 2016-2017.

Negotiations continued on January 18, 2018 and resulted in a negotiation result. The result was a combination of wishes from the trade unions and the employer. This result has been signed by all four unions and the employer. The agreement has been made that the unions consult their members with a positive advice. It was agreed that the negatiations should continue on February 15th, 2018, so that there was sufficient time for the consultation of the members.

On February 15, 2018 all four trade unions met again with the employer. Three trade unions indicated that their members agreed with the negotiation result. The NAPB requested postponement because they were unable to consult enough members. According to the chairman of the NAPB, he could not agree based upon the reaction of the members present.

The trade unions ABVO, ACOM and WICSU-PSU and the employer point out that the signing is in the interest of all employees (early payment of a salary increase) and the progress of the decentralized consultation (with public entities, education, etc.). Although the NAPB stepped out of the consultation, the three trade unions and the employer signed a legally valid agreement for all employees (including NAPB members).

Despite the employer's insistence, the NAPB decided not to take part in the consultation any further. The three trade unions and the employer regretted the withdrawal of the NAPB, because there are other important topics on the agenda that are also important for their members.

With this terms of employment agreement a salary increase for all civil servants will take place; 2% in 2018 and 1.75% in 2019.

In addition, a long cherished wish of the unions to introduce a thirteenth month has been realized step by step. With this agreement all civil servants will receive a percentage end-of-year bonus of 5% in 2018, 2019 in 6% and 7% in 2020 instead of the current nominal end-of-year bonus of USD 1250.

In addition, the minimum amount compared with the current year-end bonus has increased to USD 1500, so that all civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands have benefitted. The CLA has been negotiated for three years and runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2018 - 2020.

In June 2018, conversations will be held with the State Secretary of the Interior and Kingdom Relations about the life-cycle conscious personnel policy and possible reduction of working hours.

With these measures all civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands benefit from the economic development in European Netherlands. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Budike running in February 26 parliamentary elections

PHILIPSBURG - Robert O. Budike was born on January 30, 1971 in the Netherlands and is working and living on St. Maarten since the year 2000, Budike said in a press statement. Budike is a candidate for the upcoming February 26 parliamentary elections and is running on the slate of the National Alliance (NA).

He completed his VWO and obtained a bachelor’s degree at the University of Applied Economic Science in Rotterdam and has been working in the financial world for the past 25 years in different capacities.

He is the proud owner of PCMI Accounting & Tax Services and PCMI Academy and has been contributing daily to the well-being of the business community and for those who choose to expand their educational tool set as he is also a Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor.

Budike has a wide knowledge of different sectors as he was the Branch Manager of Bureau Ziektekosten Voorziening (BZV), Manager Finances and Operations at the University of St. Maarten and he also serves on the boards of Winair and the Foundation Judicial Institutes of St. Maarten.  As a proponent of lifelong learning he is currently completing his Certified Chartered Accountant and the Certified Fraud Examiner diploma’s. Further his hobbies are football and agriculture.

“Hurricane Irma again has proven to us that our economy is very fragile and St. Maarten is too much depending on only one pillar namely tourism. It is time to upgrade and diversify our economy. Government’s role in this is to act as a facilitator to create fertile soil while the private sector’s role is more to be a creator of economic activities. This fertile soil consists of a political stable climate, good corporate and public governance, transparency & integrity and last but not least a well-educated population as knowledge is recognized as the driver of productivity and economic growth.

“In practice that can mean that we can use some of the Dutch funds to rebuild the small business sector as it is considered the backbone of our economy. The SME’s, as what the abbreviation is, usually provides 60%-70% of the jobs.  However, 80% fails within 3-5 years. The proper application of policies, targeted training and tax instruments can stimulate sustainable entrepreneurship and therefore reduce the failure rate drastically.

“A reliable and a sufficient energy supply are important for the further development and diversification of the economy of St. Maarten. Size will and cannot determine our measure of success once you look at other countries such as Singapore. Smart city concepts will be further explored. In this concept we simply use technologies to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of St. Maarten and we can think at solar energy, technology driven medical services, online tertiary education etc.

“As we are considered a visa card society we need to create and implement policies to increase our share in the revenue stream. They say the money is in the cloud and the N.A. will look for ways how to be ways to better benefit from it. 

“Everyone in St. Maarten that has a fixed job and a decent income should be able to own their own home. We have to stimulate wealth creation for our citizens via a comprehensive package of tax incentives and affordable mortgage interest rates. Once you own a home you can use the equity to invest in real estate or another business. This is in line with our manifesto as the N.A. recognize that
St. Maarten most valuable assets is its people. It is essential that our people benefits along with our economy.

“When elected I will champion the following causes: Stimulation of the Micro-Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) through tax and non-tax incentives as the MSME’s are the backbone of our economy. The further development of this sector goes hand in hand with a reliable and affordable supply of electricity; Social-Historical Development of St. Maarten: “Make Great Salt Pond Great Again” to increase the yield of the tourists by replicating the history of the Great Salt Pond and showcasing our culture on the shores through cuisine, arts & craft, dance, music and  literature.

“Increase in disposable income by stimulating the local supply of agriculture products, a set tax allowance for Day Care and After School Programs, introduction of paying electricity as you go and stimulating ABCD CO-OP’s (Asset Based Community Development) to purchase non-perishable goods in bulk for the less fortunate. Further the stimulation of home ownership by increasing the mortgage deduction and a decreased declaration of rental income in the Income Tax; Diversification of the economy by using our unique language diversity itself (call centers), development of the financial and banking sector, developing of a knowledge based society and undertake initiatives to benefit from the virtual economy.”

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USP board: Leader maintains innocence, candidates will push on

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The board of the United St. Maarten Party (USP), in reaction to the detention of its leader Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson, on Wednesday said their leader maintains his innocence and expects to be fully vindicated of all chargers.

The board and candidates stands behind its leader and his family and awaits with confidence the outcome of any trial before a court of law.

The timing of the arrest has however not gone unnoticed, so close before an election. The party cannot escape the impression that the prosecutor is attempting to influence the outcome of the election.

The timing is just too precise to be a coincidence. Considering the span of time of the ongoing case to which our leaders is alleged to be associated with, there was absolutely no urgency for this action at this time, the USP said in a press statement on Wednesday evening.

“This is why the party maintains that it is politically motivated. The reasons we have come to these conclusions is because we have seen these patterns in the past.

“In the meantime, the dynamic candidates of the USP will continue taking the message and the plans of the party to the electorate in the remaining days of the 2018 campaign for Parliament,” the USP board concludes.

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Four Tourists robbed. Pedestrian robbed while walking on the street

GUANA BAY - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating two armed robberies which took place on Monday February 12th.

The first robbery took place at approximately 02.10 p.m. in the Guana Bay area when four tourists were walking towards the Natural Swimming pool and were suddenly approached by two unknown men.

One of these men had a fire-arm in his hand and the other a knife. While threatening the victims they were ordered to sit on the ground at which time they were robbed of their possessions.

The suspects then left the area through the hills. When the victims returned to their vehicle they noticed that it was broken into. Nothing was missing form the vehicle.

The second robbery took place at approximately 11.20 p.m. on Panther road in the vicinity of X-treme Gym. According to the victim while walking in the area he was passed by a white car which stopped a short distance from him.

An unknown man jumped out of the car with a fire-arm in his hand. This man threatened to use his weapon if no cooperation was given. The suspect then went on to rob the victim of his cellular phone, his wallet containing an undisclosed amount of cash and his backpack.

After committing this act the suspect jumped back into the car which drove into the direction of Bush road. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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PPA CALLS FOR THE PRESENCE OF ‘OBSERVERS’ TO WITNESS PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Gracita Arrindell, Leader of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) states: “Most agree that Sint Maarten is terribly off in the wrong direction. Following the devastation of hurricane Irma, programs and policies are not sufficiently coherent and interconnected five months after. At first glance, while it may seem that there is economic activity overall, many of our citizens and businesses are having a real hardship making ends meet.

“Beneath the surface of their daily existence, the quality of life of our people has seriously deteriorated, businesses continue to struggle to keep personnel or they are being laid off.

Amidst all this turbulence and uncertainties, new snap elections have been called. Why?”

Arrindell continues: “The bluff of the People has been called by those political parties who Failed our citizens miserably in their representation of their duties. PPA believes that the people and only the people has the opportunity to decide which political party has the appropriate vision and programs, transparency in decision making for the future direction of this beautiful island. Staying home out of understandable frustration, or to ‘spite’ all parties, is not helpful”.

“Not casting your vote will more likely than not keep the same parties in office.

This is an opportunity now more than ever to ensure a transparent, and accountable decision making on our future policies and programs that affect the quality of life of our people and that of generations to come. One clear example of such a critically important decision to be made relates to the landfill in the center of Philipsburg. I have referred many times over to situation of the garbage dump as a ‘ticking time bomb’. Apparent none transparent decision making regarding the best way to solve this eyesore and health hazard, has undoubtedly led to the perilous state of affairs we are faced with today. In fact, no signature (s) should be affixed to any new proposal that has not been vetted by the soon to be elected Parliament.

Arrindell adds, “It is imperative to have observers on Sint Maarten to witness this most important democratic process not in the least because of the uncertainties and un-clear reasons to the voters why we must once again go to the polls in less than eighteen months. A normal election cycle should be held every four years. Following the fall of yet another government and pre mature dissolution of Parliament, it is not unreasonable to have observers present. There is too much at stake.

“After the polls are closed, we must all be assured that People voted their conscience and that the electoral process was conducted in a free and fair manner.

Having observers in Sint Maarten is nothing new. Our first referendum was successfully organized and held in 1994. As the chairman of the referendum committee, we invited among others a United Nations representative (Dr. Nour-Eddine Driss) to be present and witness the Referendum. Process. Additionally, we received professional support and advice from former Ambassador for CARICOM for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Drs. Lucita Moenir- Alam, who guided us through the process of our first referendum. Her expertise and support was invaluable.

“Another example of observers being part of an electoral process on the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, is the fact that during the 2017 elections held on the island of Curacao.

Sint Maarten as well as Aruba, including international organizations such as the CARICOM and OAS were invited and participated fully as observers. Why not extend a similar courtesy and invite the aforementioned entities to Sint Maarten?”       

PPA leader concludes: “It’s not too late for the interim Council of Ministers to do the right thing and extend this invitation to have a delegation of observers present. Obviously and regretfully it is too late to invite representatives from international organizations. However, we must still make a maximum efforts to secure the eminent persons from Aruba and Curacao with the right experience and integrity to be present and observe our elections in the interest of safeguarding the democratic process guiding our elections. Especially after our citizens have experienced great personal and material losses followed by loss of faith in our political leadership at both the Government and Parliament level, it’s imperative to have a sense of comfort and confidence that all processes and procedures are open and transparent before, during and after the polls are closed and the votes are counted, and the People have spoken.”

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Info campaign referendum Wiv Act 2017 started. Every vote counts

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - On March 21, 2018, the inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands can participate in a consultative referendum on the Law on the intelligence and security services 2017 (Wiv 2017).

This week RCN is starting an information campaign on the three islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The information campaign will last six weeks.

Various means of communication are used, such as advertisements, radio and TV ads and Facebook to provide persons entitled to vote with all the necessary information, so that they can make use of their voting rights in the right way. The campaign, with the theme "Every vote counts", aims to make every resident aware of the following main topics:

• the notoriety that a referendum is being held
• who is allowed to vote where, when and at what times
• vote by proxy
• the ballot

On the website www.rijksdienstcn.com/referendumwiv2017/en one can find explanations about the voting process and the voting rules. More information about the law on which the referendum is held can be found on the website of www.referendumcommissie.nl.

RCN is carrying out the information campaign on behalf of the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The public entities are responsible for the organization of the referendum. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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SMCP IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY

PHILIPSBURG – It is being rumored that the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) is an off-shoot of the DP, a satellite of the NA and that it is financed by the UPP, the SMCP Leader Wycliffe Smith said on Tuesday in a statement.

“After the merger of UPP and DP into the UD, we are hearing that SMCP will work together with the UD after the election. As SMCP will not count its chickens before they are hatched, it is time to put these rumors to rest and to let the people know how SMCP started and who really is behind this Party.

“SMCP was founded in November of 2015 in response to the many cries from the people of Sint Maarten concerning the ship jumping games being played in Parliament as well as the serious lack of accountability, integrity, transparency, honesty etc. in Government. The lack of these principles and values was substantiated by three integrity reports (two international) as well as the 2014 Report issued by the General Audit Chamber of Sint Maarten.

“Actually, SMCP started many years ago when pastors, church leaders and lay persons from both sides of the island came together to pray for the governments and for the island in general. We prayed, out of concern and for the love of Sint Maarten, for change. Praying for the island is a very good thing but prayer without action is futile. In a joint prayer meeting (French and Dutch sides), held on November 9th 2014, God directed us to get involved and to make a difference in our country by actively participating in parliament and government.

“At that time it was anticipated that the next election would take place in 2018. However, with the premature breakup of the Gumbs Government on September 30th 2015 and new elections being called, several Christian leaders decided that it was time to establish a new party based on Christian principles and values. And so, on November 4th 2015, the Sint Maarten Christian Party was established, offering the people of Sint Maarten change, hope, integrity, accountability, transparency and stability.

The Today Newspaper wrote that the SMCP marked “a novelty in the local political landscape, because this will be the first ever political party that is actually based on an ideology”. Even though the party’s ideology is strongly rooted in Christian principles we want to make it clear that SMCP is not a church organization. When elected to office, SMCP’s governing strategies and decisions will be based on its core values and principles which are very much lacking in parliament, in government as well as in our society.

“While SMCP was being founded, the authors of the Articles of Incorporation had no discussion at all with any of the existing political parties. Neither did SMCP seek or receive favors or financial compensation from any of the current political leaders or parties. Let it also be noted that, SMCP never requested the UPP to send members to endorse its list on August 9th 2016. In addition, SMCP has no pre-election agreement regarding forming a coalition with any of the existing political parties.

“SMCP is an independent political party and is not tied or duty-bound to any of the current parties or their leaders. The members of the SMCP Association hail from all walks and sectors of society and not only from churches. Our candidates are persons who believe strongly in the core principles of the party and who have pledged to carry out their duties in parliament based on these principles. SMCP has even gone so far as to refuse finances from donors if the party is of the opinion that the donation may conflict with its principles.

“SMCP’s goal is to offer the people of Sint Maarten good governance and a stable parliamentary coalition as well as a stable government. Since 10-10-10 our politicians have formed several coalitions but none of them lasted a full term. SMCP has some proposals that can lead to greater stability in parliament and government. We intend to share these suggestions with you in a subsequent article early next week,” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party concluded.

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Soualiga Road remains partly closed due to fire-fighting activities at landfill

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Fire Department would like to inform motorists who use the Soualiga Road on Pond Island to reach Philipsburg or Sucker Garden, that a small section of the aforementioned remains partly closed due to current fire-fighting activities related to the landfill.

The majority of businesses, educational institution (s), government offices at the Government Administration Building, and semi-government entities on Pond Island remain accessible via Soualiga Road. The small section that is closed does not impact the free-flow of motorized traffic to those entities.

The partial road closure has been in effect since recent fire events involving the landfill. The partial road closure is due to fire-fighting hoses that run across the road which is transporting water to water cannons at the landfill in order to keep the aforementioned cool and to prevent the flare-up of fires.

The water hoses need to be protected from damage due to the passing of heavy equipment, trucks and other motorized vehicles.

The Fire Department apologizes to motorists for any inconvenience that this may cause.

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