Soualiga News II

Soualiga News II (3316)

NIPA holding off on opening. To Carry out Assessment

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Supervisory Board of Directors, and the Management of The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), wish to inform stakeholders that the campus will remain closed until further inspection is conducted.

Before reopening there must be an assessment of whether it is viable for the campus to recommence courses, and to establish the likelihood of the timeframe in which it can happen. Subsequent to the evaluation, there will be an announcement regarding the definite date of the reopening of NIPA.

“We continue to work diligently with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, and by extension the Government of Sint Maarten, and all public health authorities, to ensure that protocols and policies are put in place that will aim to protect our students, teachers, support staff, vendors and all visitors to our campus,” read a joint statement via the Supervisory Board of Directors.


UP Board: Hearsay trial produces hearsay verdict

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The board of the United People (UP) party on Friday said that the hearsay trial of party founder Theo Heyliger resulted in a hearsay verdict, and hopes Heyliger's legal team appeal the verdict forthwith. “We are disappointed, but the fight is not over,” the board said.

The board in its response to the verdict in the Larimar Case maintained its position that despite years of creating negative and false impressions about Heyliger, the prosecutor’s office did not present any physical evidence of wrong-doing.

Instead, the board said, what the prosecutor and now judge went with the "gospel word" of nefarious Dutch contractors and a middle man who was given a deal to testify against Heyliger as a crown witness.

This crown witness who orchestrated everything, the board said, received just 36 months. "It's a joke and judicial tragedy," the board said. "The judge took the word of two men fighting for their lives and capable of saying anything, as gospel. No proof, nothing. This is what we have come to in St. Maarten," the board said

Nevertheless, the board added, by law once an appeal is in you are innocent until proven guilty still. "Theo and his legal team as well as his family still have a fighting chance for things to be set right and for justice to prevail fairly. It remains an uphill battle but he and his family has shown resilience in the constant onslaught to destroy them.

"They are fighters and the board of the UP will continue to support its founder throughout, believe in his innocence and continue to anticipate his full acquittal.”


Statia Court of Audit sworn in

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - As of Thursday May 14th, 2020, an independent Court of Audit has become operational on St. Eustatius. Mr. Paul Hofstra and Mr. Rolf Willemse have been sworn in by Government Commissioner of St. Eustatius, Mr. Marnix van Rij. The task of the Court of Audit is to investigate the legality, efficiency and effectiveness of the management conducted by the island government.

The Court of Audit investigates whether the governing bodies/agencies of the Public Entity (Island Council, Executive Council, and Island Governor) handle public funds accurately. The Court of Audit examines and checks whether the money is spent practically, efficiently, and cautiously.

It is completely independent in the aspect that the Court of Audit decides for itself what it investigates, how it does this and how it reports its findings. The reports are presented to the Island Council (when the Council is installed) and will be available to the public.

This way, reports by the audit office, not only contribute to a better functioning and transparent government, but also contributes to good checks and balances within the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. This is one of the conditions for the normalization the situation of the island where there are representatives elected and appointed locally.

Mr. Hofstra (chairman of the audit office) and Mr. Willemse are Director and Chief Audit Manager of the Court of Audit of Rotterdam. They have years of experience in conducting audits in an overly complex political-administrative environment. In addition, Mr. Hofstra has extensive research experience in the Caribbean Netherlands. They will staff the Court of Audit of St. Eustatius for a maximum of two years. During that time, replacements are recruited from the Caribbean region. These candidates will be intensively guided and supported by the newly appointed members. (Statia GIS)



SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday, May 13th, the Council of Ministers met with the unions for a second time, to discuss the proposed cost-cutting measures for Government. Some of these suggestions directly influence Civil Servants, thus deeming it necessary to discuss these measures with the spokespersons of the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU). This was the second meeting held with the Unions to discuss cost-cutting measures. During the first meeting, Government made the following proposal:

  • cut its own salary by another 5% which is a total 20% cut
  • 10% off salaries over NAƒ 8,000
  • Cut of vacation pay 2020 off salaries over NAƒ 4000

Also included in the proposal is freezing or postponement of bonuses etc.

During the second meeting on Wednesday, May 13th, a second proposal was presented. “While it was never the intention to cut civil servants’ salary, after assessing the economic fallout few options were viable. With zero tourism since March and the lack of income being generated for the government the need for liquidity support to be able to meet government expenditures including subsidy, salary, etc. and finding very little areas from which to cut in an already lean budget, including the need to support the income of so many citizens who have been without work through the St. Maarten Stimulus & Relief Plan (SSRP)." The Prime Minister stated. The second proposal included:

  • deferring bonuses to 2021
  • cutting uniform budgets,
  • reducing vacation pay by 50%
  • Reducing gross salaries of over NAf 8000 with 10% until the end of 2020

The Government is currently in a precarious financial position, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on lives and economies worldwide, and Sint Maarten is no exception. Though civil servants representatives should fight for the rights of the persons that they represent as it is mandated by law, the reality of the situation must be taken seriously. The Government is therefore asking civil servants to bear with them as this will be a temporary measure until the island is better positioned to sustain itself again. Ten thousand employees on St. Maarten are expected to be without an income or a reduced income, and Government is expected to supplement or at least provide a basic income for said persons via the St. Maarten Stimulus Recovery & Plan (SSRP).

Minister Irion stated “I understand their concerns and I can say this, this Government came in and addressed a few key things immediately, one being the payment of police officers an issue that was not tackled for about 10 years. I can say this, this Government and in particular, myself as Minister of Finance will continue to tackle the concerns of the unions. I would like to clarify a few things that were placed in the media and social. In our meeting we discussed salaries of up to NAƒ. 4k will not be touched, NAƒ4k and up vacation pay will be reduced and for salaries 8k and up, there will be 10% salary cut for the rest of 2020. Vacation pay is not a contribution of civil servants but actually an expense of Government as we pay this from our treasury.”

He continued, “Government's intention is not to punish civil servants or to make them suffer. That is absolutely not the goal. But what we hope to achieve is to provide assistance to our brothers and sisters in the private sector also who will not only have no vacation allowance, but might not have an income for the coming months. I look forward to a fruitful discussion with the unions, and I firmly believe we will leave with a solution in the best interest of the island.” Now that Government has presented their proposals to the CCSU, they await further feedback from the Unions.





Reporting on domestic violence in Caribbean Netherlands insufficient

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The Law Enforcement Council has noted that the police and Public Prosecutor's Office in the Caribbean Netherlands are not yet entirely working in accordance with the 2017 instruction of the Attorney-General of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Curaçao, of Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba regarding relational violence. Periodic reporting to the Attorney-General is lacking. The objective of this instruction is to improve the tackling of domestic violence by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the Law Enforcement Council investigated the approach to domestic violence in the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba). In doing so, the Council initially focused on the judicial approach.

When it comes to repressive action against domestic violence, the public prosecutor's office and the police are the designated parties to act. An issue is the fact that victims of domestic violence sometimes don't want to report to the police in fear of the consequences that this may trigger. In these cases, the Council finds that the police should always consult with the public prosecutor on the desired next steps. The principal starting point should be that domestic violence is not accepted.

In the Caribbean Netherlands a promising start was made in 2017 with the tackling of domestic violence. In that year, the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the public entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba signed an administrative agreement regarding domestic violence. The result was an increase of both the knowledge and understanding about the scope of domestic violence for professionals, as well as the creating of awareness in the public debate about this topic.

According to the Council, the repressive approach cannot be separated from the preventive approach. Awareness and information are important aspects in the prevention of domestic violence. The judicial parties are making useful contributions in this regard. The cooperation and exchange of information between the relevant organisations of both the judicial sector and care organisations are essential and could be improved.

The Council emphasises that the structural approach to combating domestic violence requires a long-term effort. Everything that has been initiated under the administrative accord will have to be continued after this agreement expires in 2020.

The Council has made several recommendations to the Netherlands Minister of Justice and Security (JenV). It regards, among other things, legislation, consultation between the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office, and the exchange of information with the sector partners.

The Minister of JenV recently submitted the report of the Council to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, and informed Parliament that both the involved ministries and the organisations embrace the Council’s recommendations. According to the Minister, it is time to act and to swiftly implement the recommendations.

The Council presented its report with recommendations to the Minister shortly before the coronavirus pandemic. The measures taken in the context of this crisis, such as the closing of schools and staying indoors as much as possible, create additional risks for domestic violence. That is why it is now even more important than before that society remains well-informed about the risks, the awareness and detection of domestic violence and the possibilities of reporting suspicions thereof, the Council states.

The Council's report is public and can be found on the Council's website:


Timeshare Sector says there has been no employee layoffs

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA) has reached out to its industry partners and based on the information that they have received, the association can confirm that there have been no employee layoffs within the Timeshare industry to date, the SMTA said in a press statement on Wednesday. 

“Several General Managers of Member Resorts indicated that they have applied for relief from the Government via the SSRP, however, to date they have not received any payments.

“Since revenues have dropped to zero since the lockdown and with no firm opening date in sight, all resorts are anxious to receive the promised SSRP funds.  

“SMTA will continue to work very closely with our industry partners to provide as much support as possible to ensure that our product remains competitive within the Caribbean.  

“The association has also extended their assistance to several organizations including government as they would like to ensure the continuity of the product and to secure the livelihood of everyone involved,” the SMTA statement concludes. 


Statia commits to purchase a new waste incinerator

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - On April 28th, the Executive Council has agreed to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Public Entity of St. Eustatius and Matthews Environmental Solutions, from Florida, USA.

The MOU outlines the process of purchasing an incinerator. The new incinerator, able to burn 500 Kg of waste per hour, is fundamental to realizing Statia’s ambitions in modernizing waste management.

“Waste processing has proven to be one of the major challenges in the past 25 years. With the purchase of the incinerator in our reach, we continue to break ground. But we will need to work together as a community to manage our waste, so that we can become the sustainable island we strive to be”, says Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij.

In 2014, in consultation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management; a waste facility was constructed. In 2018 a service agreement was signed with EJL Services.

Waste bins were put in place, and house-to-house collection with containers was implemented. As the management of waste improved, so did the quality of the living environment on Statia, subsequently  vermin and other hygiene related health risks decreased.

Through dialogue between the Directorate of Economy nature and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, in 2019just over 1 million USD was approved for the purchasing of a new incinerator.

The new incinerator will be able to process a higher volume of waste as compared to the current incinerator. This will significantly reduce the volume of waste at the dumpsite.

In an effort to further rid the environment of debris and undesirables, waste that was dumped and covered in prior years can be dug up and processed, to restore the environment. With additional equipment, the incinerator has the potential to filter and generate energy to reduce its impact to the environment.

The new incinerator is part of the next phase in modernizing waste management on Statia. Additionally, a number of projects aimed at improving the process of waste management is launched.

For instance, adding an extra loading device that feeds the incinerator and moves glass racks and completed bales, can improve the processed quantities significantly. A shredder that can handle wood, metal and aluminum can streamline compacting waste, so that stored waste takes up less space.

This is necessary, because on a small island like St. Eustatius, waste management is a challenge. Space is limited. Scrap metal and other types of waste that cannot be processed on the island, have to be transferred to neighboring islands. The relatively small amounts of waste due to a small community make it challenging to organize collections.

“Statia's ambition is to grow into a ‘green’ island, which is attractive to eco-tourists. Waste processing is part of an approach to ‘going green’, together with green energy and environmental protection.

The purchase of the incinerator is part of this approach, in order to protect the environment when managing waste. Burning is only a last measure in. Besides focusing on the processing of waste, a further reduction and improvement of recycling are needed as well.” says deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis.

Currently, OLE is working with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to develop a policy for single use plastics and its effect on the environment.

To limit the amount of waste on the island and minimize the impact on the environment, attitude and behavior of the community is eminent. It is important to intercept and collect recyclable waste flows, like glass, tinplate and cardboard.

Currently, awareness about separation, recycling and limiting waste among Statians is already fairly high. To further improve the way waste is managed by the public, a campaign will start later this year, including tailor made lessons in schools, a radio campaign and the release of a documentary about Statia’s waste facility. (Statia GIS)


Jaramillo Appointed World Bank VP for LatAm and the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/WASHINGTON - Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, an economist and development expert with almost two decades of experience at the World Bank Group, has been appointed Vice President for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region, effective July 1, 2020. Mr. Jaramillo will manage Bank relations with 31 countries and a portfolio of ongoing projects, technical assistance and grants of almost US$32 billion.

Mr. Jaramillo will lead the Bank’s unprecedented response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis in the region. The pandemic has hit Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) hard. Millions of people are facing serious social, economic, and public policy implications. The poorest and most vulnerable people will suffer the most and it is crucial to do everything possible to mitigate that impact.

“The World Bank Group will play a critical and constructive role in our region’s recovery,” said Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. “We must rethink the future, not just go back to the same normal as before. That means making the changes needed to fuel growth, reduce poverty, and protect the environment.”

The World Bank quickly mobilized to support the health, social and economic response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Around US$700 million was quickly deployed in 14 countries in LAC to acquire gloves, masks, respirators, and other critical medical supplies. Over the next 15 months, the World Bank’s assistance to developing countries will reach US$160 billion. Much of this will benefit LAC government to better deal with the emergency.

Social protection programs will be more necessary than ever to help the poorest people and informal workers. Efforts must be made to preserve jobs and prevent those who recently climbed up to join the middle class from falling back down into poverty.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Jaramillo was the World Bank country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda, based in Nairobi. He was also senior director of the World Bank Group’s Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Global Practice (MTI), where he led a global team of more than 450 economists. Since joining the World Bank in 2002, he served two terms as country director in the Latin America and Caribbean Region.

“It is an honor and privilege to be returning to the LAC region at this time to help our countries face the enormous challenges ahead,” Mr. Jaramillo said.

Mr. Jaramillo is a Colombian citizen. Prior to joining the Bank, he was a public servant in the Government of Colombia, holding offices in the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the National Planning Department and the Ministry of Trade.

Mr. Jaramillo holds an M.A. and a PhD. in development economics from Stanford University. He has taught at the Department of Economics of the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota and at the University of Maryland, College Park.


World Bank Group Response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.

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