Soualiga News 3

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CANTO Launches 12th Annual WTISD - Video Competition on Artificial Intelligence

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) spearheaded by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be observed on Tuesday, May 17th 2018. 

According to the ITU, "The theme for WTISD 2018 will focus on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2018 theme will allow other key stakeholders to focus on the opportunities for how AI can help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. 

To commemorate this occasion, CANTO will stage its 12th Annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Day - Video Competition under the theme:"How Can I Enable the Positive Use of Artificial Intelligence For All?" 

Students from ages 15 to 21 are invited to create a three (3) minute video on any or all subsets of the theme. Students are encouraged to use their creativity to demonstrate how they can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to positively impact their respective cities, countries or region. 

The competition will be staged throughout the region among active member countries of CANTO. Entries received on or before May 1st, 2018 will be forwarded to a panel of experts in the field of telecommunications and education, to be judged on creativity, originality, message content and technical organization. All finalists will be given an opportunity to gain up to ten percent (10%) of their final score from social media votes (Facebook). 

The top three (3) videos (in order of points) will be selected and awarded the following prizes: 


  • 1st Place:
    • Trip for two (2) to attend CANTO 2018 in Panama  
    • Hotel accommodation - (double occupancy)
    • Tablet plus US$1000.00
  • 2nd Place: A tablet plus US$500.00
  • 3rd Place:  A smartphone plus US$250.00

Winning videos will be posted on CANTO's website on Tuesday May 17th, 2018. Students are encouraged to visit website: for more information. 

CANTO - committed to bringing technology to the children of the Caribbean and Americas.


CANTO is recognized as the leading trade association of the ICT sector for shaping information and communication in the Caribbean. Founded in 1985 as a non-profit association of 8 telephone operating companies, CANTO has now grown to over 125 members in more than 34 countries. A Board of Directors appointed by the membership directs policies of the Association. This strategy is executed by the staff of a permanent Secretariat based in Trinidad and Tobago.


TBO shares experience with administration and trust offices on money laundering and corruption

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Last week, staff members of TBO/OM and TBO/RST held informative talks with directors of several administration and trust offices located on Sint Maarten.

In these talks experiences were shared that relate to criminal investigations into corruption and money laundering. This is to alert the aforementioned service providers to possible abuse by criminals and to enable them to better identify unusual transactions and to report them to the MOT (FIU).

It is of great public interest to be vigilant and to identify possible corruption and money laundering practices. Various international studies show that the consequences of natural disasters, such as Irma and Maria, provide a breeding ground for corruption and fraud.

In addition, the important condition for obtaining aid funds is that the government, companies and citizens of Sint Maarten make maximum efforts to prevent the aid funds from flowing into corruption money.

The anti-corruption unit TBO (Team Bestrijding Ondermijning) fights corruption and money laundering jointly with a chain of regulators, MOT (FIU), judicial authorities and companies that are subject to reporting.

Administration and trust offices are obliged companies. This means that they are legally obliged to report unusual transactions to the MOT (FIU). In the informative discussions that were held, it was indicated on the basis of general typologies what forms of corruption and money laundering TBO recognizes in the criminal investigations conducted on Sint Maarten.

This includes the following characteristics: - Intermediaries / consultants hired for concealing corruption funds; - invoicing for work that is not or partly done (false invoices); - the final destination of many corruption funds is often real estate; - abuse of third-party accounts and checks for concealing money flows; - use of offshore companies to conceal the beneficial owner (the so-called UBO).

The building sector, the telecommunications sector and the public limited companies are at high risk of being misused for corruption and money laundering. In addition, trust offices and companies in the administrative and banking sector run a high risk of being misused to facilitate these types of crime.

“The TBO can not only fight corruption and money laundering. We do this with you and for you. In this, you, as a critical civil society, are indispensable. Essential here are signals from the society of corruption and money laundering. Do you suspect that there may be money laundering or corruption? Do not hesitate to report this to TBO via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” the joint statement from law enforcement concludes.

More information about MOT (FIU) and reporting duty can be found on or via tel. + 1721 542 3025.



Landfill Fire Flares Up Wednesday evening but is Under Control

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Wednesday, the Fire Department was called to the Pond Island landfill where a fire had ignited. 

The Fire Department along with the Landfill Management Contractor took measures to suppress the fire and to prevent it from spreading, and it’s now under control, but causing some smoke to billow.

Those living downwind and suffer with respiratory challenges, should close windows and doors.

The Fire Department will continue to monitor the situation at the landfill on Pond Island, and along with the Landfill Management Contractor will take the appropriate measures when necessary if there is another flare-up.  


The Dutch taxation culture is inappropriate for the Dutch Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Dutch Caribbean is an area that depends solely on foreign investments to survive economically and subsequently the Government covers the National Budget through tax collections, Terence Jandroep from Benjamin & Parker stated.

“The collection takes place by any means necessary, which is considered unconstitutional by some experts in human rights in the Netherlands. The phenomenon of an unbalance National budget is attributed by overexposure of the administrative structure costs combined with taxation collection shortages.

“The Dutch Taxation culture is characterized by its impact on the lower social class citizens and it impedes the middle class citizen to improve his position in the social ladder.

“Decades of the same taxation method has proven to be unsuccessful, inefficient and circuitous in its application. Fact is that the more financial pressure any Government applies on the community, it reflects immediately in the increase of criminality, which demands more financial means to the Justice Department and housing for the perpetrators.

“People in the lower part of the social ladder lands in prison, and the individuals in the Elite social class engage in Tax Fraud or Tax evasion while consultants weave Tax structures for tax deviations.

“Comparing wages in the Netherlands to the Dutch Caribbean is an unbalanced equation, but still the Dutch Caribbean Government is fixated on applying the same taxation method derived from the Dutch Taxation Culture method.

“Measuring the current taxation methods effectiveness within the Dutch Caribbean islands, any tax paying individual will observe that the entire taxation system is inefficient and obsolete.

“The applicable taxation method kills investments, creates unemployment, impedes development of the middle size entrepreneurs, threats business continuity directly and triggers tax evasion practices.

“The Governments of the Dutch Caribbean islands have been weathering the Dutch Taxation Culture without success for decades, which consists mainly of more taxation without measuring the impact in the community.

“The Aruban Government with assistance of renown consultants, in an attempt to boost the economic growth of the San Nicolaas district, introduced two years ago a Tax incentive plan, which unfortunately was ineffective and the results inconclusive. This indicates that addressing the national deficit using the Dutch Taxation models is obsolete and must be consciously adapted to improve the economic situation of the island in crisis.

“In view of this persisting condition a body in Sint Maarten reached out to Benjamin & Parker (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to present a new concept to relief the situation with focus on employment security. The firm is of the opinion that adapting the Taxation system with business culture promotes employment and derived employment generates progressive tax revenues,” Terence Jandroep from Benjamin & Parker concluded.


Country’s main business group SHTA publishes Post-Irma Statistics

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The country’s main business group, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), has forwarded an ‘Open letter’ to the Private Sector of Sint Maarten, the Central Bank, the Department of Statistics, the Ministry of TEATT (Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications), the World Bank, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), the IMF (International Monetary Fund), ECLAC (Economic Commission Latin America & the Caribbean), the CFT (Committee of Financial Supervision Curacao and Sint Maarten), The Governor of Sint Maarten, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and everyone else interested in St. Maarten.

“Last week marked six months since the passing of hurricane Irma, the economy has been severely affected; at best some sectors are achieving only 30% of their pre-Irma revenues; and it will likely take years of planning and hard work to recover, if indeed we are ever able to return to pre-Irma levels. While many efforts are focused on moving forward with recovery, some crucial things are still pending.

“Two reports were recently published that provide some serious food for thought about the economic future of St. Maarten.

“One is the Statistical Yearbook 2017 published by the Department of Statistics (STAT).

“And the other is the 3rd Quarter Report of the Central Bank of Curacao (CBCS) and St. Maarten.

“Hard data is very difficult to come by. That was already the case pre-Irma, but now even more so. Case in point, the Central Bank could not obtain data for the 3rd Quarter from St. Maarten. In the meantime, we have had numerous entities attempt to put some analysis together, as a basis for Recovery Plans: The Netherlands, the World Bank, ECLAC and the UNDP just to name a few. With the best of intentions, the 4 mentioned are completely data dependent and are lacking in local knowledge; which puts them in a very difficult position when it comes to helping chart a way forward economically. This is obviously not their fault—but a recognized problem.

“SHTA’s recent membership surveys point to an economy that has been struggling for the last many years and may very well have closed 2017 down over 2016 in profitability as well as turnover even without Irma. Some statistics report a very slight GDP growth for the years 2015 and 2016 but that could actually indicate a decline considering the margin of error in statistics. Data taken from the Yearbook (see link above) indicates GDP and Per Capita comparison for the years 2013 – 2016 as follows:


“Note that as a result of a growing population the actual average income per resident (per capita) decreased over 2015 and 2016. Data for the year 2017 is not yet available but it is safe to say that there will be a significant decrease in both GDP and Per Capita.

“Due to the unavailability of 2017 data, the Central Bank Report includes a study of economic development after a catastrophic event and includes scenarios for the development of St. Maarten’s post Irma economy, we refer to page 38 of the quarterly report, which is academic and very well elucidated. We encourage you to read the report.”

4 Post-natural disaster GDP/Capita versus Time growth scenarios



"Some of these scenarios forecast a better picture than others, but in all 4 you have GDP/Capita rising above pre-Irma levels over time, indicating that GDP development will in general, more or less, return to the “pre catastrophe trend”. By using the upward trend graphics, the Central Bank may create the perception that St. Maarten appears to be okay, despite the Irma blip or blips (depending on the scenario) it looks like over time we will again be on the right track.

“Unfortunately, as we have noted in the data included in the Statistical Yearbook 2017 (we refer to top of page 65) the GDP development showed low or no growth whereas Per Capita development was reported as negative. Therefore, apparently, we do not have a rising trend in GDP/capita! If we apply the well-considered reasoning of our Central Bank; we can only conclude that the following 4 scenarios give a better reflection of our St. Maarten reality.”

4 Scenarios GDP/Capita versus TIME based on actual Pre-IRMA GDP/Capita trends



“In these scenarios, over time the GDP/capita never makes it above the pre-Irma levels.

“This is where St. Maarten’s real challenge lies; how do we use the available recovery funds in such a way that the existing GDP trend improves and starts showing a healthy upward trend of say 3% growth per year and improving Per Capita income for its residents? As the personal income tax and wage tax is based on a progressive tax bracket system, lower per capita means reduced Government income from personal income tax and wage tax even if the economy increases.

“As a result of lower purchasing power TOT revenues will also decrease (or at least show lower growth than GDP growth would suggest). The fact is, that our economy was underperforming, with (intended) government expenditure outpacing real growth. While GDP was growing with less than 1% per year, Government Budgets were growing with 5% per year.


“The developments in 2017 and 2018, GDP as predicted by the Central Bank and budgets as presented by Government, result in a dramatic increase of Government spending, especially when presented in a percentage of GDP. This is an unsustainable path in the post Irma reality; deficit spending by government without providing stimulus for the private sector to achieve real growth.

“Continuing on this path is a big mistake. Considering that the economy was already shrinking, it is clear that from a policy perspective that stimulus was not there pre-Irma. The logical conclusion is that without structural changes to policy, economic performance will continue to deteriorate.

“Given the above, a few questions need urgent answers. If Government does not try and reduce expenses, it will need to borrow significant amounts of money for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. Chances are that they will hit the established lending ceiling, especially if global interest rates increase over time (which is the market consensus). How does government intend to service that debt?

“How do they intend to fund new policies and capital investments when they cannot borrow additional funds? Raise taxes? Combining increased tax rates with a downward GDP trend will only worsen the situation, decrease private sector economic activity more. That is not how you get out of the downward spiral that we are caught in.

“The SHTA has been stressing and will continue to stress with increasing urgency the need to address the size of government vs. the private sector. Just as Irma decimated the private sector, so should government curb spending. Not increase it by borrowing from the future of a private sector in shambles. There could be nothing left by then.

“Looking forward to fruitful dialogue with all the stakeholders on what is and isn’t a good idea under current circumstances. With hard work and sacrifice we can come out on top. Sit and wait seems to have run its course and hasn’t produced any improvements. To be continued….”


Eight in 10 Dutch kids get pocket money and 75% have a bank account

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – One third of Dutch children now get pocket money paid directly into their bank account, according to research by Wijzer in Geldzaken, a government-backed organisation which aims to help people make sense of their finances.

In total, eight in 10 children get pocket money from their parents but the number given it in cash is declining, the organisation says. The research involved over 1,000 children in the last four years of primary school.

Some 75% of the children said they had a bank account and 44% have bank cards, compared with 37% in 2016. Children in group 5, aged eight and nine, get an average of €6.80 a month, while 11 and 12-year-olds are given an average of €11.10.

Around 20% of children also earn extra cash by doing chores such as cleaning the car or walking the dog. The survey also showed that children are sensitive to both peer pressure and advertising.

Three in 10 said they sometimes want to buy the same thing as friends while one in six has been prompted to buy a product because they saw it on a vlog. (DutchNews)


Landfill Fire Flares Up but Under Control

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Early on Monday, the Fire Department was called to the Pond Island landfill where fire had flared up.

The Fire Department along with the Landfill Management Contractor took measure to suppress the fire and to prevent it from spreading, and it’s now under control.

The Fire Department will continue to monitor the situation at the landfill on Pond Island, and along with the Landfill Management Contractor will take the appropriate measures when necessary if there is another flare-up.


Power cut hits central Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum evacuated

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Large parts of Amsterdam Zuid, including the Rijksmuseum, were hit by a power cut on Friday. The power cut, though to have been caused during digging work, also caused major problems for city centre trams and in shops.

In total, around 30,000 connections in postcode areas 1070 to 1075 have been affected. Two men who were hanging an outdoor heating system at a café on the Weteringschans were injured when a metre-high flame shot out of the ground due to a short circuit, local broadcaster AT5 said.

The explosion caused a small crater in the pavement. Some 17 children at a day-care centre in the Quellijnstraat were also evacuated after the fuse cupboard began smoking, the Parool reported.

Grid Company Liander first said it hoped the problem would be solved by around 13.30 but later extended the time frame into the mid-afternoon. The Rijksmuseum evacuated visitors – some 1,500 were in the building – and closed its doors for the rest of the day because of the power outage. The Allard Pierson Museum also closed. (DutchNews)


Culture Dept., Sports Dept. and Minister Wuite Cabinet Closed on Friday

POND ISLAND - In connection with the SXM Doet activities taking place on Friday, March 9th Minister Jorien Wuite announces that the following departments within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport will be closed due to staff participation: the Culture Department, Sports Department and the Minister's cabinet.

The offices will resume operations on Monday, March 12th.

Minister Wuite uses this opportunity to once again encourage everyone to volunteer on March 9th and 10th for this worthwhile initiative.


Public Prosecutor releases two suspects accused of non-compliance with a police order

PHILIPSBURG - The Public Prosecutor ordered the release of R.A.P. (56) and R.P. (27) on Wednesday, March 7, according to a statement from the aforementioned.

“However both remain suspects and received summons to appear in court on April 19th, 2018.

“R.A.P. the father of R.P. is accused of assault, threats, defamation and non-compliance with a police order. R.P. is accused of public disorder and assault, threats, defamation and non-compliance with a police order.

“The suspects were arrested by the Korps Politie Sint Maarten (KPSM) following a head on collision which took place near the Daily Extra supermarket in Cole Bay on Sunday, March 4th, 2018 around 1:45am, involving a black Hummer, which R.P. was driving and a red Toyota car,” the Public Prosecutor statement concludes.

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