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Soualiga News II (4757)

New customs boat arrives in Bonaire

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - On Thursday, September 22, the new customs boat arrived on Bonaire. It is an Eduardono 380, of about 12 meters long, with 3 engines of 300 HP. With a desired maximum speed of 45 knots. With this boat we can reach the entire coastline of Bonaire and we can be present at all locations very quickly.

As part of the replacement of the old customs boat and the collaboration within the Multidisciplinary Maritime HUB Bonaire (MMHB), where various chain partners including Customs, KMar, Coastguard, KPCN and OLB work together, a tender for a new boat started in 2021. The chain partners also worked closely together during this tender.

With this new boat, Customs and the MMHB are even better prepared for the tasks to be performed in the context of border control and safety for the residents of Bonaire.

RCN BON Customs in1 DN 03

 

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Anti-Human Trafficking Team investigating several Human Smuggling cases

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Saturday, June 25, 2022, a number of Cubans were discovered in a hotel in Philipsburg. Subsequently, on July 4, 2022, several were detained on the French side of the island aboard a boat that was most likely going to smuggle them to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The captain(s) escaped capture.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team of St. Maarten has indications of connections to the Dutch side in the suspected smuggling case. Arrests are expected in the near future.

In another case, on August 21, 2022, a number of unauthorized migrants arrived aboard a boat in Haulover Bay, St. John, USVI. That boat, based on the investigation, departed from St. Martin (the French side). The boat dropped off the unauthorized migrants along the shore to swim to land. In the process, two unauthorized migrants lost their lives.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team is also investigating links of this human smuggling case on the Dutch side of the island and does not rule out further arrests.

Smuggling people or assisting in any way to do so is punishable under the Penal Code of Sint Maarten, Article 2:154.

The Human Trafficking/Smuggling Team urges anyone in the community with information about human smuggling/trafficking to share this by contacting the Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM via telephone + 1 721 542 2222, ext. 614/604 or the anonymous tip line 9300. 

Samedi 25 Juin 2022, yo te jwenn yon kantité kiben nan yon otèl nan Philipsburg. Pita nan dat 4 jiyè, 2022 yo te areté yon kantité kiben sa yo sou bo franzè lè yo te sou yon bato pou yo te pase kontrebanm nan zilé vyèj Ameriken yo (U.S Virgin Islands).

Kapitèn yo te rive sové. Nan ka sa a, rkip trafik moun / kontrébann moun gen apèsi sou koneksyon yo ak bò Olandè yo ka fè Arestasyon yo, ka espere nan tèm kout. 

21 Aout 2022, yon kantike imigran te tombe tou pre Haulover Bay nan St.John, USVI. Imigran sa yo te depozé sou kòt Saint John U.S. Virgin Islands pa yon bato ki sorti Saint Martin. Malerezman, 2 imigran te nwaye. Ekip trafik moun/kontrebann moun ap mennen ankèt sou koneksyon ki genyen ak bò olandè yo epi li pas ekskli arestasyon nan kout tèm. 

Kontrebanm moun, oswa assistant nan nenpot fason, ap pini anba kod kriminal la nan Sint Maarten, Atik 2: 154 kòd penal

Ekip trafik moun ap kontrebann moun ta renmen mandé kominoté a, si yo grn enfòmasyon kontrébanm oswa trafik moun. Pou fe konnen sa epi kontakté fòs polis sint.maarten. Nimewo tefefòn +1721-5422222, ext 614/604. 

Si ou preferé patajé anonim ou ka toujou kontakté Tipline la 9300.

(KPSM)

police Picture6 human trafficking

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Organization scan of Public Entity Saba

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - An organization scan of the Public Entity Saba will be carried out in the coming months with the aim of strengthening the government apparatus and investing in its most important component: human capacity.

Contracted to conduct this scan is Wim van Twuijver, who was Island Secretary on Saba in 2014 and 2015 and Secretary of Municipality Alkmaar from 2015 to 2022. The scan will focus on the broad lines of the Public Entity Saba as an organization.

The scan will be done based on the input of government employees, the Executive Council and the Island Council. Analyzed will be the current status of the organization and how the organization wants to further develop itself as an employer, but also as a public service institution. The scan, once completed, will give an insight in the needs of the organization, the requirements and points of departure of the Executive Council.

The scan is important, said Commissioner Bruce Zagers, who signed the contract with Van Twuijver in The Hague last week. “Creating a working environment where our colleagues feel valued and happy, will lead to a more productive organization.  Over the last months we have seen a high turnover of employees which is unfortunate. 

“Although some of these workers left organically, it does have our attention. With this scan we hope that it will lead to practical solutions that will promote an atmosphere where employees feel satisfied with their functions within the organization,” he said. 

Van Twuijver will visit Saba in October for the first interviews.

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NV GEBE SIMPSON BAY BRANCH OFFICE RE-OPENS FOR BUSINESS

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - NV GEBE hereby informs the general public that our branch office in Simpson Bay will reopen for business on Monday, September 26, 2022.  

Our business hours are Mondays - Fridays: 7:45 AM – 3:00 PM. Our Help Desk is available Monday through Sunday, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily, for customer convenience and after-hours assistance. Customers can also contact us via our live chat by logging onto www.nvgebe.com.  

The branch office will be open for paying of monthly utility bills, customer service, and everyday business transactions (move in / move out, new connections, etc). Alternatively, bill payments can be made online by signing up for NV GEBE Customer Portal at www.nvgebe.com.

We thank our valued customers for their patience during the period of closure and look forward to serving you.

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Millions extra for improving purchasing power in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The government will make € 16 million available in 2023 to improve purchasing power for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba. An additional € 12 million will then be made available in 2024 and € 4 million annually from 2025 onwards. The money is part of the broad measures that are being taken to improve purchasing power in the Netherlands.

This increase in purchasing power is in addition to the extra financial resources from the Coalition Agreement of structurally € 30 million (€ 23 million in 2022) to improve the standard of living of the inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands. And is in addition to the € 5 million that was made available by the cabinet last March for lowering excise duties in 2022 and introducing an energy surcharge for low-income households.

The extra amount now released by the cabinet will be used to make the energy surcharge available in 2023. This is an amount of $ 1300 for households up to 130% of the legal minimum wage. The reduction in excise duty on petrol in 2023 will also be extended: 16 USD cents per litre for the first half of 2023 and 8 USD cents per litre for the second half of 2023.

In addition, older people will receive a higher basic pension in 2023. The increase in the AOV corresponds to the amount initially envisaged for 2025. This means that an AOV beneficiary with full AOV accrual, depending on the place of residence within the Caribbean Netherlands, receives approximately 150 dollars extra per month.

Furthermore, parents will receive more child benefit next year and childcare will become cheaper. For a single mother with 2 children aged 1 and 3, for example, this means that she receives $40 dollars extra child benefit per month and pays $50 dollars less per month for childcare (for full care).

The tax-free allowance will also be increased. That is the part of the income on which no tax has to be paid. The increase of the tax-free allowance in the Caribbean Netherlands by USD 500 leads to a tax reduction of 30.4% x USD 500 = approximately USD 150 on an annual basis for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands who pay wage or income tax.

The purchasing power measures are additional to the inflation adjustment that is usually applied as of 1 January to the statutory minimum wage, the AOV, the AWW, the social assistance and the child benefit (as well as the tax-free sum). The amount of the inflation correction is determined on the basis of the CBS consumer price index for the third quarter of 2022. This percentage will come out around 20 October. The inflation rate for the second quarter of 2022 was around 8 to 9%, but how this will develop towards the end of the third quarter of this year is not easy to predict in advance.

Furthermore, a package is also being worked out for the Caribbean Netherlands to mitigate the consequences of rising energy prices.

Minister Schouten for Poverty Policy sees that due to the current sharp rise in energy and food prices, the livelihood security of a growing group of people is under increasing pressure: "That is why we are taking a large number of measures to improve purchasing power next year, such as a new energy allowance for low incomes, a higher basic pension and for parents a higher child benefit and cheaper childcare. It is necessary that incomes and costs are more in balance with each other. The government wants to take steps on this more quickly."

State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen of Kingdom Relations is pleased with the extra money for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba: "It is important that we help all residents of the Netherlands with extra purchasing power measures. I am satisfied that there is also a good package for the Caribbean Netherlands. But I also know: we are not there yet. We must continue to work on tackling poverty."

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Royal Netherlands Marechaussee finds foreigners without lawful residence

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - Over the weekend of 17th and 18th of September, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee, KMar) encountered several foreigners staying on Bonaire illegally.

On Saturday 17th of September, three undocumented persons were found, presumably from the Dominican Republic. On Sunday, three persons were found near Sorobon, one of them was in the possession of an Ecuadorian passport. This person was also not in possession of a residency status on Bonaire. 

In the early morning of Saturday 17th of September, KMar received a report of a suspicious situation in which three persons had been found near Laguna Beach. In cooperation with the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN), the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee responded to the report.

At the scene, the situation was examined, and it was assessed whether first aid was needed. The three persons were in good health according to the circumstances. When it emerged that the three could not clarify exactly where and how they had landed, the KMar took the three, presumably Dominicans, to the station for further investigation.

The foreigners have since been transferred to the Netherlands Caribbean Correctional Institution (Justitiële Inrichting Caribisch Nederland, JICN). There they remain in aliens’ custody during further investigation.

On Sunday, 18th of September, officers of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee again encountered three persons during a patrol, near Sorobon. At the time, the three persons were swimming in an area where it is prohibited.

Upon checking the three persons, it was found that one of them did not have a lawful residence on the island. The man, who held an Ecuadorian passport, was also taken to the JICN, where he now remains pending his deportation.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee monitors the security of the Caribbean Netherlands' borders, both at airports and at the islands' water borders. By combating illegal border crossings and cross-border crime, it contributes to security on the islands. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Security stepped up for princess Amalia and Mark Rutte after underworld ‘threats’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Security has been stepped up around the heir to the throne, princess Amalia, and prime minister Mark Rutte because of concerns they could be targeted by organised criminals, the Telegraaf reported.

Amalia has delayed moving in to her student accommodation in Amsterdam, where she is studying Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics, after her name and the prime minister’s cropped up in intercepted messages, the newspaper said on Saturday.

The government information service Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst said it did not comment on security arrangements, but justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz told WNL op Zondag that there were ‘very serious’ threats in general from the underworld against politicians, public figures and journalists.

Yesilgöz said she was working on plans for a stricter detention regime with tighter supervision for ‘exceptional category’ criminals such as drugs gang bosses.

Security guards at the high-security prison in Vught also raised the alarm about correspondence between Ridouan Taghi, who is currently on trial accused of being the head of a gang that carried out six gangland assassinations in 18 months, and Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of film-maker Theo van Gogh.

Taghi’s lawyer Thomas van der Horst confirmed that the two had exchanged letters, pointing out that correspondence between inmates was not forbidden. The Telegraaf said the letters contained citations from the Koran, but Van der Horst denounced what he called a campaign by the media to ‘generate suspicion’.

‘The number of letters in more than a year can be counted on both hands, and only four of them came from my client,’ he said.

(DutchNews)

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Visit to the Netherlands yields positive results

SABA/THE HAGUE--The Saba delegation on Friday, September 16 concluded a successful working visit to the Netherlands with the securing of various commitments that will benefit Saba’s community.

The delegation had meetings at ministries, and with dignitaries and government organizations. A highlight was the establishing of the Task Force that will look at solutions for long-time issues such as banking, connectivity, real estate and notary services among other things. Commissioner Zagers signed the Task Force document on behalf of the Public Entity Saba. Other signatories were State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen and St. Eustatius Deputy Government Commissioner Claudia Toet.

Saba Package and WolBES, FinBES

During a meeting with State Secretary Van Huffelen, the delegation discussed the evaluation and upcoming changes of the WolBES and FinBES laws which focus on different levels of financial supervision, the function of the Kingdom Representative of the National Government Department for the Caribbean Netherlands RCN and the future increase of the size of the Island Councils and Executive Councils. A working group will be visiting Saba in October for talks with the Island Council and Executive Council on this future increase.

Also discussed with Van Huffelen was the Saba Package with a focus on digital infrastructure, digitization in government, digital services for the public and the economic side of digitization. Human capacity was another issue that was discussed as it requires continuous attention with the limitations of a small island. This matter was also discussed with the Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG. Together with the VNG, the Public Entity Saba will look into temporary, short-term assistance until the positions are permanently filled. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) will support the Public Entity Saba financially with these initiatives.

Free allowance

Next year’s evaluation of the free allowance was discussed in a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of BZK. As of next year, the system of the free allowance will be evaluated every year, in consultation with the islands. The free allowance for Saba will be increased gradually in the coming years as part of the Saba Package 2.0.

The possibilities to allocate funding from the Regio Deals of the Dutch Government for Saba’s overall development was also discussed with the Ministry of BZK, as well as the so-called reference points under which the ministries create visions and ambitions for various policy domains that affect the islands.

Investments in poverty eradication, the social domain, public health, healthy lifestyle and sport projects on Saba were discussed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) and the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS).

Other infrastructure

The Saba delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) to talk about important future investments that are needed for Saba’s water infrastructure. On the table are Saba’s ambitions are to extend the water pipeline to the new harbor location, to increase the capacity on the existing pipeline from Fort Bay up to The Bottom and Windwardside in order to pump up more water and faster, to improve the intake for the Reverse Osmosis water plants and to secure more water storage capacity.

The delegation also met with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well as the Minister of Climate Rob Jetten. Issues such as telecom, sustainability and tourism were discussed. Future investments into renewable energy on Saba was the main topic of a meeting with Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Rob Jetten. These investments are important not only from a point of sustainability, but also to make Saba less dependent on fossil fuel, which currently greatly impacts the price of electricity.

Opportune timing

According to Commissioner Zagers, the timing of the visit to the Netherlands for strategic discussions was opportune as it was just before Budget Day on the third Tuesday of September, the end of the year memorandum (“Najaarsnota”) and several crucial debates in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament next month. Commissioner Zagers had individual meetings with Members of the Second Chamber Joba van den Berg and Jorien Wuite.

The Saba delegation travelled back to Saba on Sunday, September 18. The delegation consisted of Commissioner Zagers, Island Secretary Tim Muller, Senior Policy Advisor Nicole Johnson, Head of the Public Health Department Jane O’Flynn and Senior Social Worker of the Community Development Department Lucrecia Paulina.

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Air Service Development Study to Lead to Recovery of Air Services at Airport

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V. (PJIAE) are engaging in an Air Service Development study for St.Maarten/St.Martin.

The study, which has taken place the last two weeks, is to understand how to maintain and better the recovery of air services to Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Acting Minister of TEATT, the Honorable Omar Ottley, correctly highlighted that Air Service Development is a community effort, not just an airport effort; and it is in this framework that a Whitepaper will be produced to highlight key opportunities to both enhance and build new routes of strategic interest.  Thus, by all working together, the chance of success is much higher.

This philosophy was carried through during the last weeks, and, interviews/discussions have taken place with hotels, rental/real-estate properties, events companies, Destination Management Companies, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Agencies, Tourism Boards, Port St. Maarten, and Government institutions.  All discussions have been noted, and the Whitepaper will bring such insights to the fold, and assist in grounding the ideas and suggestions.

Preliminary results were that St.Maarten/St.Martin has a great potential. Room inventory and service quality needs to be tackled on both sides of the island to grow gracefully acquiring the best economical path. Airlines have also talked about strong loads, and, high yields (average fares), which, is matched from hotels who believe the forthcoming winter season is very strong, and recovery is well under way.  Summer 2023 is with planning now, and the paper will address how both airlines and hotels can see a new vision to bring the summer period to stronger levels.  In essence to flatten the seasonality curve, and this may hold well with new market sources from Europe and South America accordingly.

For the first half of 2022 (January to July), St. Maarten served a total of nearly 725,000 passenger movements. Around 10% went through to St. Barths, highlighting how important SXM is, as a hub to support traffic; and again, strengthening the synergies of combining both islands.  How to work this better was also a key question to the stakeholders and the Whitepaper will address such accordingly.

During this first six months, American Airlines has been the highest driver of passengers to PJIA, with over 85,000.  This was followed by Jet Blue and Delta respectively.  And cities Miami and New York continue to be the key drivers.  Interestingly, Paris is now the third largest airport pair, and, such strength needs to be understood, and the paper addresses such with the stakeholders to see how such seats can support the islands tourism development strategy.

St.Maarten/St. Martin has a great offering and the vision for improving Philipsburg, Marigot and Grand Case in service districts with boutique hotels, restaurants, shopping, and promenades will add even more content to the island's product, and duly noted.  This is further backed-up with the great potential that St. Maarten has with its own national carrier, Winair, something which must be further developed and nurtured to offer an even greater experience for the travelers to get more out of their visit to St. Maarten.

There is much to be done, however, St. Maarten/St. Martin is well on its way, and we need to be reminded that many island airports and their communities are fishing/driving for that same seasonal traveler that spends over 500 dollars per day and stays on average between 5 to 7 days. For St. Maarten/St. Martin this is a chance to do it right, and, to do it with vigour that ensures the best results, hence, the purpose of this study and, the development of a Strategic Whitepaper is managed in collaboration with both the Ministry of TEATT and the French Tourism Authority.

St. Maarten (on both sides) is working hard, and we can see such in the recovery numbers. The paper will highlight a series of actions, that, may seem to be ideas which were already tried in the past, but the art is to reshuffle such, and have the opportunity to ‘cherry-pick’ those that can be actioned and implemented accordingly.

Acting Minister Ottley is pleased with the growth in visitors and expenditures from the United States, the traditional Market, as well as gateways in Europe.  “St. Maarten will also do the necessary legwork and include regional tourism.  The data shows that the Caribbean visitor expenditure is the highest and to help St. Maarten recover completely, a more targeted approach will be taken.   We have common cultural characteristics, so it’s just a natural thing to do to help our small accommodations, which are the backbone of our industry.”

The paper will be released in the beginning of Q4 of this year and will be shared with all the stakeholders.

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Motorbike Rider injured preforming stunts during the passing of Tropical Storm Fiona

SINT MAARTEN (MIDDLE REGION) - A dirt bike rider was injured performing stunts on the wet flooded Middle Region Road during the passage of Tropical Storm Fiona on Saturday, September 17, 2022. The woman rider lost control of her bike slamming into a truck approaching from the opposite direction on the road based on the preliminary investigation by KPSM Traffic Department.

The dirt bike was removed from the scene by unknown persons, creating difficulties in carrying out an in-depth investigation by the Traffic Department into what precisely occurred at the scene.

At the scene, the biker complained of pains in her arms and legs. First aid was administrated by ambulance personnel before the woman was transported to Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

Police Central Dispatch was alerted about the incident on Middle Region Road close to Margaret Bruce Drive around 3:00pm. Police patrol and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the scene. Later, police discovered that the rider had suffered a fractured left wrist, fractured left knee and a fractured hip.

Police continue to warn scooter and motorcycle riders, as well as motorists about their reckless behavior in traffic. Serious accidents and severe damages keep occurring on the road. The bad in-traffic behavior has and can result in serious injuries and death of the rider/motorist, pedestrians, and other road users.

KPSM will conduct the controls on scooters and motorcycles as many riders are not respecting or obeying the traffic regulations and their behavior continue to be a nuisance to the community and endangers the lives.

Anyone with information about the dangerous rider who was injured on Saturday or any other plaguing the community, contact KPSM on + 1 721 542 2222 or emergency number 911.

Aside from the dirt bike incident, police recorded a few other minor incidents during the passage of Fiona. KPSM expresses gratitude to the majority of the community for the good conduct during the passing of the storm. The vast majority of the population complied with the advisory from the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten to stay off the roads. (KPSM)

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