News 2 (2)

Soualiga News II (4033)

Establish the Van Hugh Law to Create Employment for the Unemployed and Nation’s Youth

DUTCH QUARTER – “Every year we have hundreds of young people completing our secondary schools and cannot find employment. Put an ad in the newspapers seeking an administrative clerk and you would be surprised how many young people would apply for that job,” One St. Maarten People’s Party (OSPP) Leader Lenny Priest said on Sunday in a press release.

“It is unbelievable and yet those in office would want you to believe that the unemployment amongst young people is not at an all-time high. If we should start an unemployment campaign registration at any given time in each district you would be surprised of the amount of young people that would register.

“This was done before but most of the young people are disenchanted because they were never placed and neither did they even have the luxury of an interview to say the least. But as a nation we can’t give up. We must develop some type of plans or ideas to be able to put our young people to work. Dr. Rhoda Arrindell during her tenure as Minister of Education had introduced a program “Get off the block, get on the bus” to assist our youngsters who were unemployed.

“Unfortunately, it died a natural death and I believe it did because there was no money in this program to be divided amongst the members of the UP inner circle. This brings me to a very important law that was passed many years ago in the parliament of the former Netherlands Antilles.

“In the late nineteen eighties a law was passed commonly referred to as the “Lei de Bion”. This law was established to promote the employment of young people seeking employment. The employers who employed these young people would be exempted from paying some of the payroll taxes. And of course there were many other conditions attached to the law for the employers as well as the potential employees.  If my memory serves me right, the law was never enforced but remains on the books.

“As a young nation we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Let us pick up this law, dust it off and see how it can fit within our frame work of putting our young people to work. The OSPP is proposing that we establish the van Hugh Law, to be named after our former Minister of Labour, now Member of Parliament Mr. van Hugh Cornelius de Weever. The law will differ somewhat from the Lei di Bion in as much it would not exempt the employers from paying the payroll taxes for a period of time.

“The employer in essence would be granted a tax credit in the amount of Nafls 9000.00 (50% of Nafls 1500 x 12) per year; the employee must be employed uninterrupted for minimum one year on a full time basis; the employee must have been registered at the Labour Department for minimum six months as seeking employment; the job opportunity at the employer cannot be part of the core function to be carried out at the business; the van Hugh law will only be applicable to legal citizens of this country who have been residing on the island for one year or more and last but not the least, this tax credit is applicable for a maximum period of three years with the employee remaining employed.

“The OSPP is of the belief and conviction that such a program would put many of our young people in jobs right away. Our government would have sufficient time to introduce the loan guarantee program; the conversion program from cruise passengers to stay over passengers; tap heavily into other markets such as South America and Europe and truly introduce agriculture to the nation, grow what you eat, eat what you grow. These programs would result in more tourists coming to St. Maarten that would create more real jobs for our people in the long run. On account of this our unemployment numbers will drop as well as the crime rate amongst our young people.

“Our members of parliament should be open to ideas that are coming from the general public. We are in this together. Every young person that ends up in prison is one person to many. The OSPP has therefore forwarded a copy of the law that was enacted on December 14, 1989 to the Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Labour, Mrs. Rita Bourne-Gumbs and to all the members of parliaments, the SHTA, the Chamber of Commerce, the WICLU and the community councils. Let’s roll up our sleeves and put this nation back to work in particular our youth,” the OSPP press released pointed out. (OSPP Party)     


Two Chinese Groceries Robbed at Gun Point

COLE BAY - On Friday February 13th two Chinese supermarkets located in the Cole Bay area were robbed in the space 40 minutes.

Police patrols were sent to the scene to investigate and learnt that at both establishments a man dressed completely in dark clothing and armed with a handgun came into the establishments threatening to use his weapon if no cooperation was given.

He then went on to take the money from the cash register. After committing these acts the suspect fled the scenes possibly in an awaiting get-away vehicle.

Both cases are being investigated by the Special Robbery Unit. (Police Force Sint Maarten)



SOUTH REWARD - Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (VROMI) Department of Infrastructure established rapport with the South Reward Community Council Tuesday night during the first of a string of community council meetings intended to strengthen collaboration between the Ministry, Police and District Councils.

Matters concerning garbage collection and disposal, district clean up, maintenance and upgrade as well as Community Police presence was discussed by the members of the South Reward Community Council with VROMI Operations Manager Edelmiro Jansen, VROMI Contract Manager Eustaquio Richardson and Community Police Officer Major Felix Richards.

The council expressed their challenges in areas that sought police and government assistance including overflowing trenches, abandoned cars, paving of roads, installing guard rails and obtaining a district welcome sign and disquieting loitering among other concerns which were discussed in detail.

Ministry VROMI advised that meeting all needs were ambitious and a compromise was necessary on the most pressing concerns that would be addressed with cost affective alternatives to encourage progress.

The meeting quickly took a fruitful turn, identifying effective cooperation strategies, which would strengthen communication between the community council, VROMI and the police. Community council members were briefed on a reporting system that encourages information gathering and sharing regarding safety measures such as reporting abandoned cars, running water on public roads, broken or lack of street lights as well as upcoming labor opportunities that would mobilize the community in taking ownership of maintaining a safe and environmentally friendly quality of life in their area.

VROMI members further elaborated on the details defining the boundaries between property owner’s maintenance responsibilities vs that of the government, processes of proper reporting and supporting laws of all discussed subject matters.

This meeting served as a follow up initiative to the previous CPO meeting, which was hosted by VROMI to improve collaboration with the police, whereby the involvement of all community councils was acknowledged as an important contributing factor. 

SRCC President, Mayra Provence and Secretary, Travis Mc Quilkin expressed their gratitude for the prompt response they received from the ministry in joining their meeting and paying attention to the needs of their district.

The agenda concluded with positive feedback and input from all parties, while setting the tone for future scheduled community council meetings, indicating an elevated and strengthened work relationship that will collaboratively enhance the quality of life in the district. (Department of Communication/Ministry VROMI) 


DP Leader MP Wescot-Williams seeks information related to development in Simpson Bay

SIMPSON BAY – Development in the Simpson Bay area is a concern for the Democratic Party (DP) Parliamentary Faction Leader Hon. Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams. A letter has been forwarded to the Government seeking information based on recent parliamentary budget deliberations where information was shared. 

“During the questioning in the Central Committee meeting of Parliament on February 10th, with the Ministers of TEATT (Ed Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications) and Finance on the Harbor Group of Companies (Harbor), I focused on several references by the Harbor in its 2013 annual report.

“These reports by the way, as far as the financials of the Harbor are concerned are a consolidation of all the companies that fall under the Harbor and these are many. One recurring reference by the Harbor in the elucidation of these reports regards plans for the Simpson Bay Lagoon and the greater area of Simpson Bay.

“My serious concerns with respect to these subtle announcements in the Harbor’s 2013 reports, were expressed during aforementioned meeting, but were met with denial by the minister of knowing anything of these plans and the assurance that nothing will happen in general and in Simpson Bay in particular without a strategic plan being presented by the Harbor to government, and ultimately to Parliament.

“It appears now however, this assurance by the Minister notwithstanding and zoning hearings notwithstanding, that government (read the Ministry of VROMI) since March 2014 has received a request for water rights at the “head” of Simpson Bay to develop a pier, hotel and facilities and amenities to service smaller cruise ships.

The urgent questions therefore are:

▪ Has this request been granted?

▪ Who has the jurisdiction for this area? Government or the Harbor?

▪ Are these the plans the Harbor alludes to in its 2013 reports as far as Simpson Bay is concerned?

▪ Must government consult with the harbor on this request?

▪ Are we about to witness a standoff between Government and Harbor like in the case of Dock Martin or are government and Harbor in on this together?

“It should and cannot be that while the Parliament is being assuaged by Government with the promise of a strategic plan of the Harbor, if and when we get so far, the plans for Simpson Bay will already be underway, sanctioned by government and/or harbor,” DP Leader Hon. MP Sarah Wescot-Williams queried in her press release based on a letter that was sent to the Government seeking information. (DP Parliamentary Faction)


Permanent Committee of ECYS to Meet on Friday morning

PHILIPSBURG – TheHouse of Parliament will meet in a closed door – not open to the public - session in the form of the permanent Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) on February 13th.

The committee meeting will take place at 9.30am on Friday in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda is the appointment of the chairperson and vice chairperson. 


MP Lake calls for public awareness campaign about government structure of country

PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) Party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, is calling on Government to set up a public awareness campaign for the seven ministries of the government system that is responsible for running the country, as well as the role of parliament and the governor.

MP Lake added that the public has to be educated and aware of their rights, responsibilities and obligations, and that this would go long way in strengthening governance and democracy.

The seven ministries are: Ministry of General Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications, Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.

“I think it is very important that the community is aware of the respective responsibilities of each ministry.  This will help the civil service as well as civil society here where it concerns the functioning of government, expectations and obligations, along with the rights of the people.

“At the same time we would be promoting transparency as well as adhere to the rights of the people,” MP Hon. Maurice Lake pointed out on Wednesday.

MP Lake said he will be spearheading an information booklet for the schools that could be updated and contain the who’s who at the Executive and parliamentary levels of government and also who is the country’s Governor and what role that person also plays.  

“The information booklet would also be a valuable tool for the private sector so persons know who our government representatives are and the structure of our governmental system,” MP Maurice Lake added.

MP Lake suggested that the Ministry of Justice could hold public meetings in collaboration with Community Councils in the different districts.  The Department of Communication (DCOMM) also has a role to play with the development of informative TV and Radio programs and working with local hosts and producers to get the information to the people, the MP suggested.

“As a community-minded person and now a representative of the people, we must educate and continue to inform our people so that they understand the role of all facets of government, the executive branch, and the legislative branch, which is Parliament.  By doing so, a shared sense of responsibility will be fostered that will enhance living and well-being on Sint Maarten.

The MP was pleased to learn that in elementary schools, the children are being taught about the organization structure of government and parliament, adding, “To know your destiny in life, you need to know your history,” MP Lake concluded.


Prime Minister Gumbs gets acquainted with St. Maarten Development Fund

PHILIPSBURG - Director of the St. Maarten Development Fund Keith Franca on Wednesday officially introduced the government organization to Prime Minister Hon. Marcel Gumbs.

Franca briefed the Prime Minister on the accomplishments and activities of the fund in 2014 as well as presented the 2015 plans.

Franca also met with Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs last Friday. (Press Secretariat, Government of Sint Maarten Council of Ministers)   


Central Committee Meeting of Parliament scheduled for Friday regarding quarterly reports

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will meet in a Central Committee session on February 13th.  The Minister of Finance will be present for the meeting. 

The committee meeting is set for Friday at 10.00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

This meeting is a continuation of the meeting that was started initially in the latter quarter of 2014.

The agenda point is the first, second and third quarterly reports of country Sint Maarten for 2014.

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 120, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet


Permanent Committee of ECYS to Meet with NIPA on Thursday morning

PHILIPSBURG – TheHouse of Parliament’s permanent committee for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) will be meeting with the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) on February 12th in a closed door session.

The committee will meet three times starting at 9.00am with the final meeting starting at 11.00am on Thursday morning in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The first meeting at 9.00am, the committee will meet with students from several of the programs at NIPA; at 10.00am the committee will meet with the board and the director of NIPA; and at 11.00am the committee will meet with the Minister of Education, the Department of Education, and the Inspectorate & Exam Division.

The agenda is the same for the three meetings: the challenges experienced by students at NIPA with courses, instructors, and accreditation programs as well as the lack of communication.

These meetings are closed to the public. 

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