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Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations to Meet Tuesday to discuss point agenda and prepare for IPKO 2016

PHILIPSBURG – ThePermanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations (CKAIR) of Parliament will meet in session on September 1.  To follow the parliamentary session, follow it on Soualiga Newsday live.

The Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations meeting is set for Tuesday at 10.00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The four agenda points are approval of the decision lists CKAIR Parliamentary Year 2014-2015, no 14; draft law change regarding the Civil Law and General Law and Bestuurs Law; proposals for agenda points for IPKO January 2016; follow-up Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO) and Tripartite May 2015.

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.

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UTS upgrading clients to be 4G LTE ready

PHILIPSBURG – United Telecommunication Services (UTS) is continuing on its course of improvement by offering its Chippie customers the opportunity to upgrade the SIM card they use to access the mobile operators’ mobile service. For just USD $ 5 customers can purchase a 3G capable SIM card that will allow them access to the mobile operators’ premium mobile internet service. For a limited time only customers save $11.70 when purchasing their new SIM card.

With the upgrade campaign existing customers can visit the UTS store in Philipsburg from August 31 – September 19 and get their SIM card upgrade. They can keep their existing Chippie telephone number and they will have access to enhanced internet services.

Currently the company already offers its’ Chippie 3G+ mobile internet to thousands of customers, which is a premium mobile internet service offering much higher speeds than the basic GPRS/EDGE based service. With the 3G+ service already available, the company is now in the final testing phases of the more advanced mobile 4G LTE service.

LTE, an abbreviation for Long-Term Evolution, commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.

Although based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, it offers increased capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements. LTE is the natural upgrade path for carriers with both GSM/UMTS networks and CDMA2000 networks, of which UTS already offers the former.

“We encourage anyone that still has a 2G SIM card to come in for this special swap-initiative. It’s only $5 and you get an extra $10 credit voucher just for coming in. We will also be sending out a text message to those customers that we are aware need to upgrade, so anybody that’s unsure about the type of SIM card they have can confirm that way,” says UTS Marketing and Communication Officer, Ivy Lambert.

“We will have a special team dedicated to the upgrades to make sure that the process runs as smooth as possible. Not only will you be able to use our Chippie 3G+ mobile internet, but you will also be among the first with access to 4G LTE when it becomes available to everyone.

“We value our customers and work diligently to bring them service on par with technological developments in the region. It will open up many possibilities in terms of entertainment, offer enhanced communications through the seamless functioning of services such as Skype and will also offer increased effectiveness in our business sector as well.

“All things that we believe will benefit us as a community with close ties internationally. We recommend that anyone coming in to upgrade make a back-up of any phone numbers or other info stored on their SIM card to avoid losing any vital information. They will also need to walk with the PUK number which they received when they originally bought their SIM card,” Lambert concluded.   

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UP MP Lake would like to see stakeholders for Waste to Energy Plant Project getting together to move project forward

PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) Party Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake sent a letter to the Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, and also publicly made a statement on July 13th, 2015 requesting an update on the Solid Waste Ordinance and the progress of the long awaited Waste to Energy Plant to address the ‘growing garbage mountain.’

“As the former Minister of VROMI, my ministry and the Steering Committee was very much involved with the final stage the bidding process which was won by a company to build the plant. Government, Legal Affairs and GEBE was busy looking at the legal aspect of the draft concession agreement and other documents still to be signed by Government and the Company that won the bid.  

“Legal Affairs was also looking at the draft Solid Waste Ordinance which is still on the desk today at Legal Affairs, which thereafter still needs to go through the process of being sent to Parliament.

“GEBE at the time of my tenure as Minister was looking on how to become involved in the project by turning garbage into energy, but then my term was up as Minister of VROMI. The biggest accomplishments during my tenure was the National Energy Policy and the completion of the process of making NV GEBE 100 percent wholly owned by country Sint Maarten. 

“We had Parliamentary Elections which the waste to energy plant was a hot topic, and since then there were changing of "players" at the company that won the bid, and then GEBE was looking at the idea and then not much has been heard until lately July 13th when I as a Member of Parliament, wrote to the Prime Minister about the topic, and wrote an article about the status of the Solid Waste Ordinance and plant.

"It’s very frustrating to see every day the landfill getting bigger and bigger without any results.  The focus is too much on bringing tranquillity back in the Government owned companies than working on the bigger projects that are affecting our Country. We just had this dump fire again during the passing of Tropical Storm Erika, and the dump became a hot topic again in Government and the community.  

“I can tell you one thing, if I had more time as Minister of VROMI, we would have a win win solution already for the dump and the building of the plant, because I would have made it a high priority on my list as Minister.  This would be part of GEBEs investment plan for the Country.  We need to start investing into our overall investment plan for our Country where it concerns energy, garbage and sewage.

“It's high time all political parties put aside politics and set our Countries priorities in order so we can move this Country and our people forward.  We are always reactive instead of pro-active to the situations that are affecting our people. 

“As the former Minister of VROMI, I would say the only way Government can move this discussion forward again is to sit down with the Steering Committee, GEBE, then with the company that won the bid to get the project moving again.  We just need to review, finalize and execute the waste to energy plant and start the public awareness program to gradually introduce recycling in the homes and businesses, which the French side is already doing.  This would also be in time for the garbage bag law which MP Frans Richardson and MP Johan Leonard are in the final phase to complete the law to promote a safer and healthier community.

“I foresee GEBE playing an instrumental role and taking the lead in the overall infrastructure of garbage, energy and sewage on the island.  This should be part of GEBEs investment plan and budget for the coming years.  

“During Parliament discussions with the French side, I also would like to see the French/Dutch side finalize within these coming months the much talked about joint sewage plant project in the Cole Bay area.  It's high time to see some action with less talk with these much needed projects which will be an asset to the Country once they are completed and operational,” UP MP Maurice Lake pointed out.

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CIBC FIRSTCARIBBEAN RECORDS ITS HIGHEST QUARTERLY NET INCOME SINCE THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2010

BARBADOS - CIBC FirstCaribbean today announced its results for the third quarter of this fiscal 2015, recording its highest quarterly net income since the second quarter of fiscal 2010.

The Bank continued to deliver solid results against its strategic objectives of accelerating profitable revenue growth and improving operational efficiency by recording net income of $34.8 million in the third quarter, up $11.4 million or 49% over the prior year’s third quarter net income of $23.4 million.

For the nine month period ended July 31, 2015, net income was $87.0 million, up $31.9 million or 58% over prior year’s adjusted net income of $55.1 million for the same period.

Total revenue during the third quarter of fiscal 2015 increased by $7.1 million compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2015. Total revenue over the nine month period was down $7.9 million year over year primarily due to lower interest earnings from loans and securities. Some countries continue to experience low credit demand, additionally interest margins on loans and securities yields were lower.

While productive loans balances are down slightly over the prior year, an improved performance over the second quarter of 2015 was recorded with $80.6 million in loan growth as a larger proportion of the sales pipeline was converted into productive loans during the latter half of this quarter. Operating expenses over the nine month period were down by $3.0 million compared with the same period last year as we continue to benefit from expense control initiatives and savings from our restructuring program.

Loan loss impairment expense was significantly lower by $43.1 million compared with the prior period’s adjusted expense of $77.9 million due to an improvement in the loss experience and recovery activity. Additionally, non-productive loan balances were down 18% to $651 million compared with the same period last year as efforts continue to further strengthen the quality of our loan portfolio.

CIBC FirstCaribbean continues to make a number of investments across the region pursuing its growth objectives while also demonstrating its continuing commitment to the Caribbean.

The Bank just recently announced that the Rendezvous Branch in Barbados will be converted into a first-class sales centre catering to Platinum Banking, Business Banking, Corporate and International Banking customers. It has also opened new branches across the region, most notably the Santa Cruz mini-branch in Jamaica. Another branch at Fairview in the Montego Bay area is under construction. Additionally, the Bank recently opened a Representative Office in Aruba and has plans to open a full service branch in 2016, as part of its expansion plan for the Dutch Caribbean.

The Bank’s focus is on improving customer experience is generating results across our three main business segments.  The SWITCH campaigns targeting mortgages and credit cards, low interest rate offers, 100% auto loan campaigns, Loan Saturdays, and Talk to me Tuesdays are a few examples of new initiatives designed to enhance the bank’s value proposition for customers.  In addition, considerable progress has been made on making our lending decision goal of 48 hour turnaround a reality, specifically in terms of auto loans in Barbados, Cayman, and Jamaica.

CIBC FirstCaribbean is particularly proud of its activities as the leading infrastructure financier among the commercial banks in the Caribbean.  These projects are an important element in the enhancement of productivity, competitiveness and growth throughout the Caribbean region.  The new cruise pier and terminal in BVI and power projects with utilities in Cayman and Jamaica are some notable examples of the bank’s infrastructure finance work.

    

The Bank’s Tier 1 and Total Capital ratios remain strong at 21.5% and 22.8%, well in excess of applicable regulatory requirements. We wish to thank the Board, management, staff and most importantly our clients for their loyalty and continuing support.

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Front Street in vicinity of Horizon View Beach Hotel to be closed Saturday night

FRONT STREET, (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that part of Front Street in the vicinity of Horizon View Beach Hotel will be closed to motorized traffic on Saturday night, August 29 from 9.00PM to 12 midnight.

The partial street closure is in connection with construction works related to the pouring of concrete at the aforementioned hotel.

Motorists are requested to be observant of traffic signs and other notices indicating the street closure.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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TS Erika Notices from White & Yellow Cross and SMMC Medical Center related to services on Thursday

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – With respect to the arrival of Tropical Storm Erika, the White and Yellow Cross Foundation would like to inform the public about the following:

The White & Yellow Cross Foundation has closed two of their day care products forThursday, August 27, namely the SBC Educational Facility and the Psychogeriatric day care. Reopeningon Friday will be determined based on the weather at that point in time and the outcome of Erika.

The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) operating room, outpatient clinic, dialysis department and administrative department will be closed on Thursday, August 27.

Dialysis patients who are scheduled to dialyse on Thursday will be dialysed later that day after the passing of the storm.

All patients will be informed of appointment changes and dialysis patients have a hurricane pass to be able to freely access hospital services.

Family members of dialysis patients also have a letter granting permission to accompany the patient to the hospital.

For weather information visit (www.meteosxm.com) and check the Government of Sint Maarten website (www.sintmaartengov.org) or the Government of Sint Maarten Facebook Page for official information as it relates to Tropical Storm Erika.

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Dutch State Secretary Dijksma to visit Saba and Bonaire

SABA/BONAIRE (Caribbean Netherlands) - State Secretary Dijksma of Economic Affairs will be visiting Saba and Bonaire from August 30th until September 2nd.

It is the first visit of the State Secretary to these islands of Caribbean Netherlands. On the program on both islands are meetings with the Island Governors, the members of the executive councils and visits to projects.

On Saba, the State Secretary with meet the members of the Tourism Committee and she pays a visit to the power station under construction and the nature project ' goat buy back '. There is also a boat trip around the island on the program.

On Bonaire the State Secretary will meet with representatives of the business community, the Chamber of Commerce and the power company. Also on the program is a tour to a rural development project, which is subsidized by the State Secretary and a visit to a successful horticultural company, located on the grounds of Krusada. 

A number of representatives of companies travel along with the State Secretary, in order to explore the possibilities of Bonaire as a testing ground for sustainable agricultural and horticultural techniques. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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UPDATED: NV GEBE Fully Restores Power

PHILIPSBURG - NV GEBE has fully restored power to the public correcting the load shedding of earlier today (Wednesday, August 26). 

As per the most recent weather reports NV GEBE plans to deliver its services uninterrupted to the community of St. Maarten.  We will however, monitor the weather updates into the night.

Lastly, NV GEBE will be closed on Thursday, August 27, 2015, with the exception of continuous service. 

For emergencies please call 1 844 432 3213.  

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Routine Traffic Control leads to the apprehension of Car thieves

PHILIPSBURG - Previously on Saturday 22nd August at approximately 13:45 pm due to the vigilance of the police patrol two suspects were apprehended after a routine traffic control turned into a chase.

As a result of their reckless behavior the two suspects slammed into another car causing damage to the car and injuring the driver of this vehicle.

During control of the vehicle the officers noticed that the steering column was completely dismantled and that the vehicle was indeed a stolen vehicle. The two were immediately arrested and brought to the station.

The injured driver was transported by ambulance to the medical center. At the station it was further discovered that the number plates on this vehicle were also stolen plates. 

Detectives are busy with the further investigation into this matter. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Civilian needs mount in Yemen as medical supplies dwindle – UN health agency

INTERNATIONAL – Life saving medicines, trauma kits and blood bank supplies are urgently needed in war-ravaged Yemen, where nearly half the country’s health facilities have shut down, leaving thousands of injured civilians with fewer and fewer places to seek emergency assistance, according to the UN health agency.

“In Taiz, the ongoing crisis has led to the closure of many health facilities and access to health facilities for the injured civilians and doctors is almost becoming impossible; shortages of basic and lifesaving medicines, medical supplies, laboratory reagents in the health facilities are fast dwindling with limited access for replenishing,” said Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for Yemen.

In response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Tiaz and Hodeida governorates and the rising number of civilian injuries in the southern governorates of Yemen, WHO is coordinating a rapid response to provide emergency health access to the injured, internally displaced persons and host communities.

But to date, the response to the escalating needs to support life-saving health interventions has been inadequate.

Of $132 million requested for Yemen in 2015, WHO said it has only received $25 million, leaving a funding gap of 8 per cent.

In a press release issued in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, WHO said thousands of people have been injured in Taiz since the start of March 2015 with over 350 casualties recorded in the last one week alone.

“The escalating crisis in the governorate has seen a breakdown in the health system; health facilities have been damaged, close to half of the health facilities have closed down and medical supplies are quickly being depleted,” the health agency said.

Over the weekend, WHO donated 2 trauma kits sufficient to conduct 1,000 surgeries, one surgical supply kit, 15 dressing kits, 40 first aid bags and anaesthesia to treat the increasing numbers of injured patients in Tiaz.

And in Hodeida governorate and Tehama region, where the crisis has equally escalated, WHO has donated emergency trauma kits and other medical supplies sufficient to treat over 4,500 patients at a hospital and a renal dialysis centre to address immediate health needs. Shortly after the delivery of the supplies to the hospital, 25 major surgeries were carried out as a lifesaving intervention.

“WHO is committed to ensuring that all Yemenis continue to have access to health services, including those in the hardest to access areas through the provision of emergency lifesaving medicines, trauma kits, interagency emergency health kits, diarrhoeal disease kits and blood bank supplies which currently are urgently needed,” the WHO representative said.

But in the coming month, the health situation is expected to deteriorate further among the displaced people and host communities due to the continued crisis and escalating needs.

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