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Minister Ottley visits World Food Day event at Emilio Wilson Park

SINT MAARTEN (EMILIO WILSON PARK) – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Hon. Omar Ottley on Sunday visited a World Food Day (WFD) event at the Emilio Wilson Park. WFD was officially observed around the globe on Saturday, October 16.

The event was sponsored by the Edwardo Richardson Memorial Agriculture Foundation. It opened on Sunday at 9.00am and runs until 8.00pm.

Various vendors came out to showcase their products. Minister Ottley is encouraging members of the community to still take the opportunity to pass by the Emilio Wilson Park and show their support to the persons who have products on display before they close at 8.00pm.

Minister Ottley is extremely proud of the organizers and hope that the country can gravitate more into agriculture.

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Central bank calls for housing market tax reforms to shrink gap with rental sector

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch central bank has published four recommendations which it says will help the next government achieve a more balanced housing market in the Netherlands.

House prices continue to rise, and the shortage of affordable housing in particular is growing. While building more homes, with greater central government regulation is a given, there are other things which the next government should also consider, the central bank said.

The overheated Dutch housing market, the bank says, is characterised by poor accessibility, risky borrowing behaviour, supply shortages and large unwarranted discrepancies between owning a home and renting one in the non-subsidised rental sector.

Firstly, the bank recommends the next cabinet stop taking measures which make it easier for people to spend more money on a home, such as the special loans and the abolition of transfer tax for first-time buyers.

‘While they were well-meant, they are counterproductive,’ the bank says. ‘Increasing purchasing capacity mostly tends to drive up both prices and debts. This is not of much help to first-time buyers, who end up having bought the same home, but at a higher price and burdened with larger debts, with attendant higher risks.’

Gift

In line with this, the bank also suggests the government abolish a scheme allowing parents to give their children up to €100,000 tax free to buy a home. In particular, the gift widens the gap between the purchasing power of first-time buyers with and without wealthy parents, the bank says.

More controversially, the central bank also suggests a shakeup of the tax breaks and taxes paid by homeowners at the moment. While tenants pay wealth tax on their savings, buyers can build up equity almost tax-free and benefit from the tax break on mortgage interest payments, the bank points out.

‘Of two neighbouring households whose income and family composition are identical, the household in a home in the non-subsidised rental sector is financially much worse off than its neighbours who own their home,’ the bank said.

One way to reduce inequality, it suggests, is to gradually phase out the tax relief that favours home ownership – a politically sensitive move – and to make homeowners pay asset tax over the value of their homes.

The bank says its analysis shows that doing this can be done without hitting homeowners hard, as long as the change is gradual and other taxes are reduced.

Current measures

Mortgage tax relief is gradually being reduced but four parties currently in talks on forming a new government are divided on scrapping it altogether. D66, for example, backs ending mortgage tax relief but opposes the introduction of a tax on home ownership.

It argues that a tax on owning a home would hit pensioners who have paid off their mortgages and have modest incomes particularly hard, because the value of their home is on paper only.

(DutchNews)

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CPS: October 16 marks World Food Day – It’s Your Day

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – World Food Day (WFD) will be marked around the globe on Saturday, October 16 under the theme, “Our actions are our future- Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.”

According to the United Nations (UN) Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), “The food we choose and the way we consume it affect our health and that of our planet. It has an impact on the way agri-food systems work.”

The FAO added that collective action across 150 countries is what makes World Food Day one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar.

#WorldFoodDay 2021 will be marked a second time while countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic. It's a time to look into the future we need to build together.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, calls on the populace to work on planting their fruits and vegetables in their backyard to support growing and nourishing a healthier diet.

Reduce preventable diseases and deaths from high consumption of sodium and salt, sugars, and fats, particularly trans fats. Consuming a healthy diet from pre-birth to the last days of life is vital to prevent all forms of malnutrition as well as diabetes, cancers and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Eat more whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

CPS adds that as a community, promote the need to plant vegetable/fruit gardens and support local food producers that would ensure a sustainable future together for a better environment and a better life.

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CPS Invites Public to Attend Breast Cancer Interactive Forum on Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), is inviting the public to attend the Breast Cancer Interactive Forum where you will have the opportunity to discuss breast cancer.

Dr. Niara Chobanyan, will be providing information and the public will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

For those who would like to attend the forum in person, space is limited to 50 persons. The forum will take place on two dates, this coming Saturday, October 16 and again on Saturday, October 30.

The forum will be held at the St. Martin of Tours Parish Hall, Back Street across from the Cultural Center from 7.00 PM to 9.00 PM.

The forum is a collaborative effort of the Positive Foundation, the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Elektralyets Foundation, and CPS.

The forum is being held under the banner #InItTogether October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in the Americas, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. More than 462,000 women are newly diagnosed and approximately 100,000 women die from breast cancer each year. This is expected to increase by 34% in the Americas by 2030, if current trends continue.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, breast cancer ranks as the first cancer type among women both regarding new cases and deaths.

Several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the highest rates for risk of dying from breast cancer, highlighting the inequities in health in the Region.

CPS says early detection is important in the management process of your breast for this reason all women and men are reminded to do self-breast examination – check your breast, get familiar with your breast so you can timely recognize when there is something wrong.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, a greater proportion of breast cancer deaths occur in women under 65 years of age (56%) as compared to North America (37%).

Earlier diagnosis coupled with advances in treatment has led to better outcomes and longer survival for women with breast cancer.

Talk to your physician about your risks for breast cancer and empower yourself with information. When attending either forum on October 16 or 31, attendees are required to wear their mask according to the public health and safety measures of the Government.

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Makana Ferries starts inter-island operations in November for SSS Islands

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Blues and Blues Ltd. of Anguilla is scheduled to start with the inter-island trips between Statia, Saba and Sint Maarten on November 1, 2021. Preparations by an inter-island team are in full progress to be able to meet this date. Information on the fares and the exact schedule information will soon follow. 

Blues and Blues Ltd of Anguilla won the tender for the inter-island maritime connectivity with the M/V Makana. Makana is a 72-inch Sabre catamaran fast ferry, capable of carrying 150 passengers across two decks. There is a lower deck, an upper (open) sun deck and an upper business class area. The lower deck and the upper area are both fully air conditioned and outfitted with two toilets and a bar.

The Makana will provide ample luggage and cargo functionality. The catamaran will cruise comfortably at an operational speed of 23 knots with a maximum speed of 31knots. The trips will be approximately 45 minutes from Saba to Statia, 75 minutes from Saba to St. Maarten and 85 minutes from Statia to St. Maarten. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in St. Kitts, the route to this island cannot be scheduled yet until further notice.

Gift

Makana is the Hawaiian word for “Gift”. Blues & Blues Ltd. welcomed the vessel into its fleet recently. Passengers can expect a friendly and reliable service complete with onboard WiFi and online customer services. The Makana will be stationed in Statia or Saba. Residents are encouraged to apply for vacant positions as crew members.

Samuel Connor, owner of Blues and Blues Ltd., said: “We are a family business. We strongly believe that we can contribute to the social and economic development of the islands via an interisland maritime connectivity including St. Barth, Anguilla and Nevis”. (Statia GIS)

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Amendment to Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention BES Islands Act

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - On the 1st of July 2021, an amendment to the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) (BES Islands) Act (Wet ter voorkoming van witwassen en financieren van terrorisme BES, Wwft BES) came into force that has tightened up the rules. On the 13th of October, the importance of these rules and the most important changes were explained during a one-day seminar. The seminar, which was opened by Lieutenant Governor Rijna, was attended by a large group of entrepreneurs and business representatives.

The Wwft BES is an important instrument in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing on the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (the Caribbean Netherlands). Through the Wwft BES, the government wants to prevent or counteract money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, corruption and other forms of financial and economic crime.

This week, representatives of the Dutch central bank (De Nederlandsche Bank), the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets, the Wwft Supervision Office of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration and the Dutch Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-Netherlands) and the Dean of the Bar Association of The Hague are on Bonaire to explain the stricter rules.

The rules in the Wwft BES apply to a range of businesses, including traders in building materials, property developers, car dealers and financial service providers, such as banks and life insurers. The rules help prevent that criminal funds enter the financial system or terrorism is financed with the aid or by means of these parties.

In his opening speech, the Lieutenant Governor emphasized the importance of combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Money laundering and terrorist financing pose a serious threat to a country’s economy and can impact economic growth. The absence of an effective anti-money laundering policy can have a detrimental effect on both domestic institutions and international trade.

Therefore, to safeguard the economic health and prosperity of the Caribbean Netherlands, it is important to prevent and combat money laundering. More information about the rules and requirements for businesses on Bonaire can be found on the websites of the relevant supervisory authorities and the FIU. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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DUO opens temporary service centres in the Caribbean Area

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - In autumn, the Education Executive Agency [Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs] (DUO) is going to open temporary service centres on Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire in order to provide information services to prospective and former students. DUO is also going to organise information sessions and offer tailor-made support. Residents of the Leeward Islands will have the opportunity to consult a DUO staff member via chat and video conferencing.

Service centres

DUO is going to open a temporary service centre on Aruba and Curaçao from the 1st to the 26th of November. Prospective and former students will be able to access the service centre without having to make an appointment for answers to all their questions about study financing and the repayment of their student debt. The temporary service centre on Bonaire is going to be open from the 29th of November up to and including the 10th of December. Residents of the Leeward Islands will have the opportunity to consult a DUO staff member via chat and video conferencing.

Information

During their visit to the Caribbean area, DUO staff members will also hold information sessions for prospective and former students who are about to start repaying their student debt. Anyone who cannot attend one of these meetings can register for a webinar which will have the same topics.

Tailor-made support

DUO is keen to help prevent former students getting into financial difficulties. For that reason, former students with payment arrears with DUO will be given a final opportunity to avoid a collection agency being called in. Some of them have received a payment arrangement proposal. Others will receive an invitation from DUO to meet with a staff member in order to find a tailor-made solution.

More information

More information about the locations and opening hours of the temporary service centres and the times of the information meetings can be found at duo.nl/bezoekantillen. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

Among other things DUO implements laws and regulations, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), relating to the funding of education institutions, the provision of study financing and school expenditure allowances, the collection of student debts and the management and the exchange of data linked to student registration numbers.

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Draft environmental legislation in place for businesses

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management and the Public Entities St. Eustatius, Saba and Bonaire have prepared draft environmental legislation for businesses. The legislation, that will go into effect in the second quarter of 2022, concerns a broad spectrum of environmental factors. Residents, businesses and organizations are invited to give their (online) opinion on the draft legislation through the following link: Reageren IAB BES .

The official name of the draft legislation is “Establishment and Activities Decree BES”. The draft decree includes environmental regulations for businesses that have an impact on the environment due to their specific activities. 

An example is a car garage where there is a possibility of leaking oil or a construction company where there is a risk of releasing hazardous materials into the environment. Depending on the impact of the activity, the business must adhere to general binding rules. A business can also apply for an environmental permit before starting its activities which can have an impact on the environment. 

When the decree is adopted it will form the legal basis for more specific rules in the form of a ministerial decree and an island ordinance. 

Annex 1 of the decree refers to the activities that will be regulated. On the legal basis of this decree, the general binding rules will be further transposed in a ministerial decree and an Island Ordinance.  

Everyone is invited to submit feedback and/or ask questions through the webpage Reageren IAB BES. Via the link IAB BES the English web text (E1) and draft decree (E2) under ‘Overige documenten’ can be found. The internet consultation on the draft started on September 15th, 2021.  (Statia GIS)

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Capacity building continues at NPOwer with successful Googles Suite workshop

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - 16 people representing 11 Non-profit Organisations (NPOs) participated in NPOwer’s Google Suite/Workplace on Saturday, part of a series of workshops geared toward empowering and strengthening the capacity of St. Maarten’s NPO community.

NPOwer and Director of the National Institute for Professional Advancement, Sergio Dimitri Blomont offered the six-hour workshop for St. Maarten based NPOs to learn how to effectively use Google Suite to improve the way organizations use and manage data.

The demand for capacity building within the nonprofit world pushed NPOwer to expand their numbers of participants from 12 to 16. “We were happy to see that everyone that registered to participate turned up and positively evaluated the workshop, '' said Jose Sommers of NPOwer. These 16 representatives walked away with valuable knowledge that will significantly benefit their respective organizations.

Sommers said, “It’s important that people have Information Technology and software skills that facilitate the smooth operation of their NPO. This skill will make operating efficient and effective; For instance, in google drive there can be a central database of all essential documents, allowing everyone access quickly and easily. This feature reduces the time group members spend trying to get copies of documents such as the chamber of commerce extract, minutes of meetings and notary papers for example.”    

NPOwer is in the second round of workshops for 2021, which will engage NPOs with topics ranging from governance, data collection to accounting and more will run until December. NPOwer thanks participants and workshop presenter Sergio Blomont for giving up six hours of their Saturday to strengthen their work for the people of St. Maarten through their various causes.

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New Developments Statia Waste Management

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Many new developments have transpired at the St. Eustatius Waste Facility. Economy, Nature, and Infrastructure (ENI) highlights some of the latest improvements.  

Waste motor oil. 

The Public Entity St. Eustatius invested in a Waste oil Catchment at the waste facility late 2020 because of environmental benefits and for recycling. This catchment is intended to hold the waste oil in an environment safe manner. All waste oil is collected from different entities until the max storage volume is achieved. 12,000 gallons of waste oil was shipped abroad for further processing. This required two 20ft sea containers with a liner. The waste oil will be refined into new oil products once processed. Persons may contact the waste facility for more information about depositing waste motor oil.   

Bale of aluminum cans 

72 bales of compacted aluminum cans were exported to the central storage where they will join greater volumes at an aluminum factory. Soda cans take up very little space once compressed. The shipments will go to a European market. The product will further be made into new products. Sorted compacted exported.   

Waste Bin holding cells 

In past six months bin holding cells were made and placed at specific areas at Lower Town. The purpose of the bin holding cells is to prevent roaming animals and the occasional high winds from tipping over the bins. Also, to make waste collection available for pedestrians and beach visitors. The 3 bins holders are made from 50% recycled crushed glass. They are dressed with artistic work and stands out at Lower Town, reminding everyone to keep Statia clean. (Statia GIS)

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