Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (2166)

Racism at the Dutch Tax Authorities says Simons party leader of BIJ1

THE NETHERLANDS - Earlier this week, it was confirmed that the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (de Belastingdienst) have been guilty of ethnic profiling for years. These racist practices, targeting Dutch citizens on the basis of their nationality, have caused irreparable damage to thousands of families, says Sylvana Simons, party leader of BIJ1 in a statement.

BIJ1 demands those responsible for drafting and implementing the policy, be held accountable and for radical action to be taken against institutional racism within the government as a whole.

The Netherlands, while presenting itself as a guardian of international law, is the country where tax authorities selected more than 11,000 people for additional fraud checks on the basis of their (second) nationality.

A practice that was in effect for a number of years. Having a second nationality was an official motive to flag an individual as having an 'increased risk of fraud'.

Due to this policy, thousands of people with a second nationality and/or migration background were subjected to extra screenings and groundlessly highlighted as fraudsters. People were ordered to refund their allowance for childcare, in some cases resulting in high debts and severe financial difficulties. One of the affected parents was even driven to suicide.

"Many families have fallen into the abyss due to the deliberate ethnic profiling by the Dutch Tax Authorities. We must hold the perpetrators of this evil accountable and take action to fully eradicate institutional racism."

Government in denial

Employees started blowing the whistle on these practices as early as 2014. Asscher and Wiebes, respectively the responsible minister and state secretary at the time, must have been aware, but ignored these sounds of alarm. Subsequently, the Council of State (Raad van State), the highest court of law that can rule on a dispute between citizens and the government, also contributed to the preservation of the racist policies. The lawsuits against the tax authorities by hundreds of victims were dismissed under the vice-chairmanship of Piet Hein Donner (former CDA Minister of Justice). Thus allowing these racist policies to continue for years, with devastating consequences for the families.

This misconduct shows that as a citizen, one is powerless against powerful government institutions such as the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. And the maladministration continues. Solutions for the people affected are still nowhere in sight: parents who requested their files months ago, still haven't been able to review them. Nor has there been any progress regarding financial compensation. Ultimately, the only road toward real recovery is structural change for the tax authorities.

Time for action!

An immense evil and enormous injustice has been done to thousands of people. It proves that government officials can be expected to actively discriminate. Serious and adequate action is needed, immediately.


NV GEBE explains electricity and water tariffs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) on May 14, 2020 released insidious statements to the media through a press release directly affecting the integrity of the Managing Directors of NV GEBE and by extent the employees.

The SHTA stated that it is “concerned that during the lockdown of the past months, GEBE tariffs seemingly have gone up for consumers,” and that “GEBE has enjoyed benefits of the reduced cost of fuel …” The Managing Board of NV GEBE considers these remarks as inflammatory and extremely misleading to the general public of St. Maarten and hereby refutes these statements.

NV GEBE, over the years, has on numerous occasions and through various media sources done its best to provide information to the general public about its way of work, including the monthly applied fuel clause, the tariff structure, understanding the monthly invoice, ideas for lowering electricity and water consumption and more. Some information can also be found on our Facebook page.

On March 23, 2020, NV GEBE, in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, announced that it would grant a temporary relief to its consumers, effective April 01, 2020. The relief, implemented for a period of six months and applied to the monthly fuel clause, allows customers to register a monthly savings based on this varying monthly cost.

The fuel clause calculated and applied monthly to the consumed electricity over the same period of time, per household/business, has been reduced to a fixed amount of Ang. 0.18 for the next six months. This relief was sanctioned by the Council of Ministers by way of a resolution to NV GEBE.

As the COVID 19 continued to become a global disaster, and the Prime Minister implemented the phase of social distancing, scaled down workforces and stay at home orders to combat the spread of the virus within the community, the Managing Board of NV GEBE, out of concern for the employees, decided to suspend the work of some employees.

The meter reading for the month of March had been completed and it was decided that no reading of meters would be carried out during the month of April and that a combined invoice of two months would be issued for each service. This identical process was carried out in 2017 after the passing of Hurricane Irma.

Electricity invoice EXPLAINED

NV GEBE has prepared an example of an electricity and water bill for explanation. The electricity invoices below, outline an invoice with the COVID 19 relief of a reduced fuel clause (see picture 1) and an electricity invoice without the COVID 19 relief of a fixed rate of Ang. 0.18 for the next six months (see picture 2). Please place attention to one’s consumption on the past bills as that varies based on one demand daily of electricity and water monthly.

This give you an indication of your monthly demand. NV GEBE continue to calculate the fuel clause with the reduce fuel price received from our fuel supplier. The fuel clause would have been at Ang. 0.21. This will be monitored by NV GEBE monthly based on the price of fuel purchased locally.

gebe electric

Water invoice EXPLAINED

Below you will find examples of the water invoices. The examples depict a March invoice (picture 1), an April invoice (picture 2) and a combined invoice for March and April (picture 3). The combined invoice represents the “as it stands” billing that NV GEBE was forced to apply due the COVID 19 precautionary measures that had been implemented.

On each customer water bill above the 20 cubic meters of water consumption NV GEBE incurs a loss of Ang. 1.00. For Customers with less than 20 cubic meters of water consumption the loss for NV GEBE range from Ang. 1.00 to Ang. 15.00 this mainly due to the one time fixed fees that is applied. Should there be any future concerns feel free to contact our Customer Care department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NV GEBE hopes that this explanation will prove to be sufficient and that all insinuations are put to rest.

gebe water



Unhealthy lifestyle not to blame in 20% of child obesity cases

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Medical reasons are at the root in one in five cases of severe obesity in children, according to a joint research project between Erasmus and Amsterdam university teaching hospitals.

Although an unhealthy lifestyle – a bad diet and lack of exercise – is usually blamed for obesity in children, around 20% of cases have other causes, the researchers found.

Some 16% of children and teenagers in the Netherlands are overweight and 3% are considered to be obese. Of them, 18,000 children are seriously obese, and 300 of these children were the focus of this research.

‘We looked into the precise cause of obesity in each child, ranging from dna tests and hormone measurements to their physical condition and how fast they burned calories,’ research doctor Ozair Abawi said.

In 20% of cases, the researchers found an underlying health problem, much higher than the 5% quoted in medical literature. In some cases, obesity was inherited, in others medicine the children used were behind their overweight.

Most underlying causes were found in pre-school children. ‘It is important that doctors try to determine why a child is obese… so you can target treatment,’ research doctor Lotte Kleinendorst said. ‘Such a diagnosis can support both parents and children.’



Dutch Covid-19 death toll rises by 21, just 5% of tests are positive

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The official coronavirus death toll in the Netherlands rose by 21 to 5,715 on Tuesday, the public health institute RIVM said in its latest update.

A further 34 people have been admitted to hospital, the RIVM said. Both figures are higher than in recent days because of the time lag in weekend reports. ‘The number of people with coronavirus has been going down since the end of March,’ the RIVM said.

‘This can be seen from the number of new patients, hospital admissions, intensive care admissions and deaths.’ The number of people reporting to family doctors with symptoms is also decreasing, the RIVM said.

Tests too show a steadily declining positive rate. And the end of March, 29% of those tested for the virus had a positive result but this has now gone down to 5%, the RIVM said.

The number of positive tests rose by 108 overnight to 44,249. Despite the expansion of testing facilities to some 17,000 a day, just 30,000 people a week have been tested over the past three weeks.

Testing is currently limited to health service workers, teachers, the police, and people showing serious symptoms. The government plans to expand testing to cover everyone with symptoms from June 1.

This, officials say, is key to ensuring the virus can be tracked when the lockdown is further eased. The government is expected to say more about its plans at a news conference on Tuesday evening.



Two arrested after blast targets house in Rotterdam-West

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have arrested two people after an explosion ripped through a house in Rotterdam-West. Nobody was injured in the blast in Jagthuisstraat, which happened at around 2.30am on Monday.

The house had been deserted and sealed off since it was the target of a shooting on Thursday morning, local news station Rijnmond reported.

Police later stopped a car in Amsterdam that matched the description of a vehicle seen fleeing the scene of the explosion. Two people sitting in the car were arrested.

The explosion blew out the windows of the house and caused damage to neighbouring properties.

A number of homes and business premises in Rotterdam have come under fire in the last week, including a house in Potgieterstraat, a parcel delivery shop in Delfshaven and a Surinamese restaurant in Kralingen.



Small rise in coronavirus infections, 14 new deaths reported

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of new deaths from Covid-19 increased slightly on Monday to 14, while hospital admissions rose to 27, according to the public health agency RIVM.

Official figures tend to be lower on Sunday and Monday because of a delay in reporting new cases over the weekend. The average number of deaths over the last seven days was unchanged at 34.

A further 146 people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 44,161. The real number of infections is thought to be around 40% higher because of limited testing capacity.

Since Monday non-professional carers have been eligible for coronavirus tests as the government tries to reduce the number of infections in the community. The proportion of positive tests has fallen in recent days to around 5 per cent.


200518 deaths 7 day average 640x356


Eindhoven draws up rules for flat sharing, brings in 30 metre rule

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Eindhoven has become the latest Dutch city to introduce measures to tackle flat-sharing and stop illegal rentals. ‘We want Eindhoven to offer enough of a variety in housing to meet everyone’s needs,’ said housing alderman Yasin Torunoglu.

‘But we also want to keep a balance and ensure the atmosphere remains pleasant for everyone.’ Landlords who have already illegally divided their properties into smaller flats and bedsits and who rent out shared properties are being given a year to apply for the proper permits.

The city has also added two more neighbourhoods to the six already identified where no more shared accommodation can be realised. In addition, Eindhoven is introducing a ’30 metre’ test for the whole city, apart from the centre.

This means that landlords will not be given permission to convert properties for shared living if they are within 30 metres from the centre of a property which has already been made suitable for sharing.

The council says the new rules have been drawn up together with landlords, tenants and residents’ organisations.

The Hague

In March, The Hague city council said it is to stop giving licences for formalised flat shares in 10 city districts in an effort to ‘relieve the pressure on the supply of cheaper housing’.

The council is also looking at further measures to reduce the pressure on housing and aims to publish them by the summer.

These may include a ban on roof extensions to stop investors buying up cheap homes and making them bigger and introducing a licencing system for landlords. Amsterdam has already taken steps to stop unlicensed flat sharing in the city.

In Amsterdam a licence is need for upwards of three people sharing an apartment. In the Hague licencing starts at four.



Corona impact appears to stabilise: 10 deaths and 15 hospital admissions

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Ten more people have died from the coronavirus and 15 more have been admitted to hospital, the RIVM Dutch health institute announced in its Sunday update.

This takes the total number of deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 to 5680 – although the RIVM has admitted that the ‘real‘ figure could be up to 40% higher since testing has been limited in the Netherlands.

However, in a sign that the impact of the virus could be stabilising, this was the lowest daily death toll in two months. Meanwhile, 125 more people tested positive for the virus, bringing this total to 43,995.

Hans Brug, director general of the RIVM, told television programme Buitenhof that people need to get used to coronavirus prevention measures as the new normal. ‘They will last a long time, possibly a very long time,’ he said.

‘It needs to become more like normal behaviour….The virus is here, and we have to learn to live with it.’ Meanwhile, Dutch family doctors’ association NHG said that even people with supposedly ‘mild’ complaints can actually be sick for anything up to two months, which is ‘a real problem.’



Official death toll up 27 on Saturday: RIVM update

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch official coronavirus death toll rose by 27 on Saturday to 5,670, the public health institute RIVM said in its Saturday update. A further 45 people were admitted to hospital and 189 people tested positive for coronavirus.

These figures include people who died or were admitted prior to Saturday due to a time lag in the registration, the RIVM said. Some 43,870 people have tested positive so far but the real number is likely to be far higher because not everyone is being tested.

Similarly, the real death toll is likely to be some 40% higher than the 5,670 announced today, since this figure only includes people who have tested positive.

On Friday, statistics agency the CBS, the RIVM and Amsterdam teaching hospital released research suggesting that almost 9,000 more people have died than would normally have been expected, in the first nine weeks of the epidemic.

The latest small increases, however, suggest that coronavirus limitation measures are working, the RIVM said. The government is due to announce next week or the week after if it can move on to the next phase in easing the lockdown; the spread of the virus is key in determining this.



The Netherlands extends its ban on foreign travellers to June 15

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands has extended its ban on people travelling to the country from outside Europe and the UK until June 15.

The ban, which was imposed on March 18, applies to all but urgent travel, although there are some exceptions.

Diplomatic and NGO staff, medical staff and lorry drivers may continue to enter the Netherlands, as well as foreign nationals with residency cards or long stay visas, the guidelines state.


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