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Soualiga Newsday Focus (1474)

Quality of reports is expected to pick up Age Bakker (Cft): ‘Improvements financial management Bonaire visible’

BONAIRE - After having made some adjustments Bonaire is now on track with the implementation of its budget. Bonaire is expeditiously implementing the multiannual action plan to improve the financial management. Even though many improvements are still needed, the Cft ascertains that progress has been made with regard to the financial administration. Nevertheless, a timely submission of suitable report, which will contribute to a better control of the budget, is still considered necessary.

The Board of financial supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) met on September 28th with the Executive Council and the Island Council of Bonaire. During these meetings much attention was given to the subject of financial management and the various reports submitted by Bonaire.

Although Cft finds that since mid-year the budget execution is lagging behind, no problem is foreseen for the second half of 2015. The Board furthermore paid a visit to Cargill, and the importance of the company for Bonaire's economy was the main focus of the meeting. 

Report obligations

Bonaire was able to timely submit the audited 2014 financial statements to the BZK minister. Nevertheless, this has resulted in delays in meeting other reporting obligations. For example, the first performance report, including budget amendment, was only adopted by the Island Council in August.

The second budget amendment of 2015, which has now been submitted to the Island Council, is mainly used to compensate the revenues that will not be realized in the current financial year. Cft will provide a positive advice for this budget amendment.

 

Budget implementation

Once the minister approves the 2nd supplementary budget submitted by the public entity, the total budget amounts to approximately USD 60.1 million. In the first half of the year USD 27.2 million was realized in revenues and 25.5 million in expenses, which is respectively 45% and 42% of the total budget.

Although the gains and losses hat were realized in the first half of 2015 are lagging behind, for the time being the Cft does not consider this to be a problem, since Cft has noted a similar trend in the last three years as well.

 

Liquidity position

The Cft is concerned about the declining liquidity position of Bonaire and has urged the Executive Council to build an adequate liquidity buffer. Any possible windfalls can be utilized to this end.

 

Financial management

During its visit the Cft observed that the multiannual financial management improvement plan is keenly carried out. In the course of the implementation of said plan in 2014 it was already pointed out that most of the improvement will be completed in the second half of 2015.

Cft will therefore follow the future developments of the financial management with extra attention. In any event Cft currently notices that progress is made in the area of financial administration. With the current financial system, it is fairly simple for the Finance department to provide interim reports at a very short term. This allows the Executive Council to make better use of the financial reports as management tools.

It also enables a faster production of performance reports. Since the drafting of the reports will take less time, it is anticipated that future performance reporting will now be supported by a more detailed interpretation. This in its turn will reinforce the supervisory function of the Island Council. (Cft)

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Nature Foundation Reminds Stakeholders of Rules and Regulations Concerning the Use of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park

COLE BAY - The Sint Maarten Nature is informing all stakeholders of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area that they must adhere to the Rules and Regulations of the Marine Park.

“Yesterday we had to ask a vessel to leave the Marine Park because it was completely not in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. The vessel was not registered at the Nature Foundation as a dive vessel, the guests on board had no SCUBA Diving tags which allows them to dive in the Marine Park, the vessel was tied up wrong to the mooring causing damage to expensive equipment and the captain was rude and belligerent towards Nature Foundation staff,” commented Tadzio Bervoets of the Nature Foundation.

It is important that these regulations are adhered to for the safety of visitors to the Marine Park as well as for the conservation of the fragile marine ecosystem of the area. Tourists to the island must purchase a dive tag which goes towards the maintenance of equipment in the Marine Park. Locals do not need to purchase a dive tag. 

Dive boats can use dive site moorings as follows: mooring buoys can only hold vessels up to 30 tons. Dive moorings may only be used by vessels less than 15 meters (50 feet) overall length; only one boat is allowed on each mooring at a time; when approaching the mooring captains should pick up the yellow floating line and feed the vessel’s bow line through the loop at the end of the floating line and tie the bow line back onto the vessel. Vessels should not tie the yellow floating line directly onto the boat. The boat line must be at least as long as your vessel. 

Furthermore dive boats must respect other boats that have a ‘alpha’ flag on display and should not go closer than 30 meters to the boat for safety reasons; divers may use gloves to ascend/descend the mooring line but should avoid using gloves at any other time; all boats should expect rangers to approach them at a safe distance at any time; it is not permitted to touch, damage or remove any marine life; it is not permitted to remove any historical artefacts from the Marine Park without written permission from the authorities; all boats must adhere to applicable regulations and codes of conduct for boats operating in St. Maarten with appropriate safety equipment.

Companies with paying customers diving in the Marine Park should register with the Nature Foundation and purchase the necessary dive tags. Failure to do so will result in having to leave the Marine Park and a report will be made to the Department of Maritime Affairs. The Nature Foundation is the designated Management Authority of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area based on the Management Agreement between the Foundation and the Ministry TEATT.

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CIBC FIRSTCARIBBEAN COUNTS DOWN TO 4th ANNUAL WALK FOR THE CURE

PHILIPSBURG - CIBC FirstCaribbean staff members, family and friends are counting down as they prepare to take part in the Pink Parade for their 4th Annual Walk for the Cure this Friday, October 2nd, along with the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations.

The Bank not only sees this walk as an opportunity to bring awareness but also to celebrate survivors and bring hope to those fighting all cancers within the community.

Employees have shown great dedication and involvement with a number of fundraising events in support of this cause. All funds raised will be donated to a local cancer foundation.

The Walk for the Cure is held to coincide with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure sponsored by the bank’s parent company, CIBC. As well as walks throughout the other territories where the bank operates.

Thanks to the generous support of regional and local corporate sponsors and staff fundraising efforts over $USD300,000 has been raised in support of various cancer organizations across the Caribbean.

There is still time to show your support, Customers can go to any CIBC FirstCaribbean branch to make a donation via CIBC FCIB Account # C/A 10055400.

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New Chamber of Commerce Service Offers Quick Turnaround within 24 Hours

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) introduces COCI 24 to the general public of St. Maarten.

COCI in its commitment to enhance its services and provide a product of the highest quality has developed COCI 24.

COCI 24 is a newly established service that provides a swift turnaround at the customer’s convenience.  COCI24 request can only be made via email “This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.” or fax (721) 542-3512.

COCI24 request are for: copies of file documents, declarations, visa letters, certificate of good standing, excerpts, changes to existing registrations, name checks and statements on accounts/payment receipts.

These requests will be handled within 24 hours, with a confirmation issued within 24 hours of receipt by COCI. All other requests of a different nature or requests due to complexity requiring additional time, will be responded to within 24 hours on the timeline for availability.

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Suspects invade home Thursday morning and exchange gunfire with police. One suspect wearing bullet proof vest

BETTY’S ESTATE - Several police patrols and detectives were directed, by the Central Dispatch, to a home on Pointsetta road in Betty Estate on Thursday September 24th at approximately 10.30 a.m.

The officers were sent to investigate a case of “home invasion” that was taking place at that moment, at the home in question.

The call came in from a seemingly very scared female victim, who stated that she and her child were alone at home and that two unknown men, dressed in dark clothing, armed with handguns had forced themselves into her home and that they were in hiding.

When the first Police Patrol arrived on the scene, officers observed one of the suspects who was dressed completely in black, wearing a bullet proof vest, with his face covered, holding a gun in his hand, walking on the premises.

As the officers approached the suspect, he aimed and fired a shot at them and then took off running towards the back of the building into the hills. Neither of the officers were hit.

The officers took cover and then returned fire; however they were not successful in hitting the suspect. When back-up arrived an intense search of the area was done, but none of the suspects were found.

The female victim who was obviously traumatized of the incident and her child were not physically injured. They were both checked out by paramedics.

The Forensics Unit was on the scene collecting evidence. The investigation into this case will be dealt with by the Special Robbery Unit. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Age Bakker (Cft): ‘'Terms of targeted instruction need to be met to get public finance back on track"

PHILIPSBURG - The Kingdom Council of Ministers (Rijksministerraad) in its meeting on September 4, 2015 issued a targeted instruction to Sint Maarten. During its visit this week, the Board of financial supervision (Cft) discussed the specific terms of the instruction and the way in which they can be met with the Sint Maarten government. Until the terms of the instruction are met, Sint Maarten will not be able to issue any new debt for capital expenditures.

The Sint Maarten government has indicated it will take action to meet the terms of the instruction. This includes the implementation of the Strategy for Growth, a multi annual program aimed at structurally elevating Sint Maarten's economic development level and thereby structurally increase government income, settle payment arrears and compensate for past deficits.

Age Bakker (Cft): “We welcome this multi annual program which can provide a basis for meeting some of the terms of the targeted instruction, and which may provide the additional financial means needed for an adequate level of public services. However, in the opinion of the Cft, the expected results of the program may be overstated. More realistic assumptions are needed, before the Cft is able to advise that the terms of the instruction have been met, after which the Sint Maarten government will be allowed to borrow for capital expenditures. Therefore, some tough choices need to be made now.”

On September 23 and 24, 2015, the Cft met with the acting Governor, the Minister of Finance, the Council of Ministers and the Financial Committee of Parliament. The main topic of discussion was the targeted instruction and how its terms can be met before November 1, 2015.

Targeted instruction

The instruction obliges the Sint Maarten government to: 1) settle its payment arrears, 2) compensate for the deficits accumulated in 2010-2014, 3) amend the 2015 budget to include all costs related to the public pension scheme and the healthcare system, 4) implement the measures related to the retirement and healthcare system that have already been agreed upon in the Council of Ministers, and 5) reform both the pension scheme and the healthcare system. As long as criteria 1 to 4 have not been met, Sint Maarten will not be able to issue any new debt to make capital expenditures.

An analysis of the payment arrears with SZV and APS shows that both the healthcare and pension system need urgent reforms to attain financial sustainability in the near future. Although several plans have been proposed by the Council of Ministers to restructure both systems, the underlying legislation still needs to be adopted by Parliament.

The government's plan to increase the pension age to 62 years needs to be implemented shortly as part of the terms of the instruction. Healthcare expenses are increasing rapidly, causing some SZV funds to reduce reserves to cover their deficits. Cost-cutting measures that were included in the 2015 budget, such as the exclusion of over-the-counter medicines, the introduction of a 10% deductable, and an increase of the salary threshold, are just a few examples of measures that have been approved but have not been executed yet. Urgent action is needed here.

Reform of Sint Maarten's public pension system is needed to attain long term financial sustainability. The final-pay pension scheme needs to be substituted by an average-pay scheme, as is best practice elsewhere. Without such reform, pension premiums would have to be increased to unrealistic levels, which would undermine Sint Maarten’s competitive position by adding to labor costs.

Strategy for Growth

The Cft supports the government’s plans to structurally strengthen the Sint Maarten economy and lay the foundations for sustainable public finances. The Strategy for Growth program can help to strengthen the tax base, so as to providing the financial means needed for an adequate level of public services. An improvement of the financial management, strengthening of the tax authority and improvement of tax compliance should underpin this strategy.

While the Cft supports the idea of the Strategy for Growth program, it questions the expected outcomes presented by the government of Sint Maarten. The expected accumulated additional government income over the period 2015-2018 needs to be realistic, taking recent economic growth figures of not only Sint Maarten but also its main trading partners into account. Therefore, additional measures are needed to meet the terms of the targeted instruction. (Cft)

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TelCell Breakthrough team counting down to Saturday’s finals event

POND ISLAND - Organizers of the TelCell Breakthrough talent show have started their final countdown to Saturday’s finals at the Theatre Royale, Maho.

 Last-minute arrangements for the night, including seating, security and crowd-handling were discussed during a meeting of the entire team in the Conference Room, main TelEm Group building, Tuesday.

According to coordinator, Angel Richardson, everyone is upbeat and excited that the day for the show is almost here.

“We have been promoting the event for many months and there really is a buzz in the social media and around the island generally for our Breakthrough show this year once again. Everyone wants to see and hear what these stars of tomorrow have to offer,” said Angel.

During Tuesday’s meeting Angel outlined where the group is in terms of preparation for Saturday and also what arrangements have been made to accommodate the panel of judges and also the VIP guests who will be arriving.

She said the show is completely sold out, therefore no tickets will be available at the door at show time Saturday.

The program for the night and other matters related to sound and recording were also finalized with the assistance of co-organizer, Bertaux “Mr. Rude” Fleming of Xtratight Entertainment.

Present at Tuesday’s meeting was Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Brian Mingo, who thanked everyone for their tremendous effort, particularly, the co-coordinators Ms. Richardson and Mr. Rude.

“I am very happy to see the energy that everyone continues to put into making this the biggest and best event for St. Maarten’s youth each year. It makes us very proud that such an event carries the name of TelCell,” said Mr. Mingo.

Mr. Mingo said from the reports he received Tuesday, he is “very satisfied” that all the bases are covered and that everything is in place and being put in place for nothing short of a spectacular night at the Casino Royale Theatre, Maho, Saturday.

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Live 2 Lead Addresses: How to Thrive Through Challenge and Change

MAHO REEF - In a world where challenges abound in relationships, businesses, organizations and communities, many persons often find themselves stressed out without tools to cope effectively with life. Consequently, relationships suffer, marital discord increases, the family unit becomes vulnerable and unstable, and our communities feel the negative consequences through school drop outs, crime and violence.

Research shows that resilient people think differently. They have a set of skills – sometimes learned, other times innate – that allow them to persevere, manage stress, and triumph in the face of challenges.

Recognizing that many persons are hurting, and struggling with life, Victorious Living Foundation (VLF) exists to empower, enlighten and reconcile individuals, couples, families, communities and nations to maximize their potential in life. Consequently on October 9th 2015, Victorious Living Foundation is hosting Live 2 Lead, a live simulcast half-day, leader development experience designed to equip leaders from all walks of life with new perspectives, practical tools and key takeaways to take their leadership and vision to a higher dimension.

Live 2 Lead is organized by the internationally renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell who in 2014 was identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association® and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazines. By registering and attending Live 2 Lead, persons locally will join thousands around the world, learning significant leadership truths and practical applications for their work and life.

Life coach and bestselling author, Valorie Burton, one of the speakers at Live 2 Lead will focus on How to Thrive Through Challenge and Change. She will help participants create building blocks of resilience to effectively manage challenges encountered in leadership and life. Burton will equip participants with a survival toolkit that will allow them to navigate disappointments in a way that makes them better, not bitter. They will learn to maximize opportunities, bounce back from setbacks, and develop the thinking style that research has proven will help them succeed under pressure.

In addition, Live2Lead has partnered with the University of North Georgia (UNG) Continuing Education Division to provide Continuing Educational Credits (CEUs) for the 2015 Live2Lead event. The UNG Continuing Education Division has approved 3 contact hours or .3 Category 1 Professional Development CEUs for this event.

Registration is open until October 2nd 2015. Persons may register by going to http://tinyurl.com/registerL2LSXMor learn more about the event athttp://tinyurl.com/Event-L2L-SXM. Persons interested in the VIP packages of an all inclusive stay at Sonesta Maho by registering for Live 2 Lead may visithttp://tinyurl.com/Victory4u.

Victorious Living Foundation is located at the Royal Palm Plaza # 92 Front Street, upstairs. For more details persons may call VLF at 1-721-524-8731/1-721-542-2652 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Local Postal Services PSS attends Caribbean Postal Conference in BVI

TORTOLA, BVI/SINT MAARTEN - Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) attended the Caribbean Postal Union (CPU) and Universal Postal Union (UPU) 18th annual Postal Conference in the British Virgin island of Tortola.

The St. Maarten delegation arrived on Sunday in Tortola comprised of Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors (SBD) Stuart Johnson and interim-Managing Director Antonia Wilson. The conference duration was from September 14 to 18, 2015 and the conference was held at Maria's by the Sea Hotel. 

The primary purpose of the conference was to formulate a strategy to highlight and adequately address several facets within the postal Caribbean region. The St. Maarten delegation joined with a selected number of countries to form a working group which will work out improvements to the regional movement of mail traffic especially by air transport. 

"PSS felt it fitting to join this working group considering that our country serves as a hub for the north eastern Caribbean especially with our two main modernized ports of entry," PSS SBD Chairman Stuart Johnson stated. 

The Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Marcel Gumbs joined the conference on Thursday morning for a two day session of the Caribbean Council of Ministers of Postal Affairs which concluded late on Friday afternoon. 

"We need to look creatively at how the postal organization fits in our society today especially considering the many influences facing PSS," Mr. Gumbs stated. 

Mr. Gumbs stated, "I was truly grateful for the warm welcome received by the Honorable BVI Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, the BVI Post and all conference support staff."

Johnson mentioned, "we need to continue networking regionally with our colleagues in the postal world and truly build the young organization of PSS which serves to ensure the continuity of our postal company." 

The CPU/UPU conference also focused on a number of topics such as, point of sales, postal security, regional logistics, identifying global/regional trends, E-commerce and the CPU's 2016/2020 strategic plan. 

"PSS surely gained a lot of knowledge and exposure during this conference as we continue to ensure the further growth of our postal organization. We will continue to work diligently with all stakeholders both locally as well as regionally," PSS Interim-Managing Director Ms. Wilson stated. 

The next CPU/UPU conference will be held in the twin island nation of Trinidad & Tobago in the month of May 2016. 

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First Tropical Wave East of Lesser Antilles chance for development diminishes. Second system has potential

SINT MAARTEN – The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its tropical weather outlook of Monday evening (September 14) says a low pressure area located about midway between the Cape Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles continues to produce a limited amount of shower activity.  

Some development of this low is still possible during the next couple of days while it moves generally north westward. After that time, however, upper-level winds are expected to become unfavourable for development.  This tropical wave chance for development has diminished from 90 to 60 per cent. 

A second tropical wave accompanied by a broad low pressure system is located about 500 miles south-southeast of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands.  Shower and thunderstorm activity is showing some signs of organization, and environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for the formation of a tropical depression over the next few days while the system moves westward at 10 to 15 mph.  This wave has a 60 per cent chance for development.

Crown Weather reported Monday morning: “There are two tropical disturbances in the eastern Atlantic that I am monitoring. The first disturbance is a broad low pressure system, designated Invest 93-L, that is located to the west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands near 11 North Latitude and 38 West Longitude. Satellite imagery indicates that the overall thunderstorm activity associated with this system has become less organized and the overall structure looks more elongated than it did yesterday. Since this system remains entrained within the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, it continues to track nearly due westward with no signs of a turn to the west-northwest or northwest, but this should change by a little later this week.

“At this point, I’m not so sure that Invest 93-L will develop as much as some of the model guidance suggests, especially given that much stronger shear just to the north of this system seems to be already impacting it. Even if it does not develop, it looks like a pronounced weakness in the ridge of high pressure that stretches as far west as 45 West Longitude should pull this system north westward and northward into the open Atlantic as the week progresses. Bottom line is that Invest 93-L poses no threat to the United States, Caribbean or Bermuda.

“Turning to another tropical disturbance that is currently located just off of the west coast of Africa. Satellite imagery indicates that this disturbance is also disorganized and slow development seems likely. In fact, analysis reveals that this disturbance is likely to be impacted by 20 to 30 knots of westerly wind shear over the next couple of days or so and this will likely limit development. I think it may not be until later this week before we see any development from this disturbance. As for a future track, a general west to west-northwest motion is expected throughout this week and it remains to be seen if this second disturbance is pulled northward by a central Atlantic trough of low pressure or whether this trough will miss this disturbance. The GFS model guidance forecasts this system to be pulled northward along 50 West Longitude by early next week while the European model guidance forecasts a much more westward track with it possibly impacting the northern Lesser Antilles by the middle part of next week.

“Both disturbances will be monitored, however, at this point, I think the disturbance closer to the coast of Africa has a better chance of becoming a tropical cyclone than Invest 93-L does,” Crown Weather concludes.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY TROPICAL WEATHER WATCH (www.soualiganewsday.com)

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