Soualiga News 3

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Local councils unhappy about handing over public space to ‘messy’ 5G antennas

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Local councils are sounding the alarm about the use of public space to accommodate 5G telecommunication networks, the FD reports.

At least ten local councils, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven, have said they are not happy about proposed changes to the telecommunications law which would force local authorities to make public space available for a new network of antennas.

The 5G network needs more antennas because the higher frequencies have a lower range. They are also more sensitive to disturbances caused by objects at the top end of the frequency which is why a number of them will have to be installed at street level.

That means that the most likely places would be bus shelters, lampposts, traffic lights and public buildings and local councils fear that this will lead to a ‘messy look’ and higher maintenance costs.

They also expect a barrage of complaints from locals about perceived risks to health, the paper said.

Telecom companies have been playing down the councils’ concerns, saying the present arsenal of 46,791 antennas will only be increased by 10%. Amsterdam digital city alderman Touria Meliani said she expected around 10,000 extra antennas to be placed in the capital.

Director of the organisation for telecom providers Monet Rob Bongenaar told the paper that this is ‘fear mongering’and that the total would be nearer 5,000, with wi-fi like solutions,’ the paper quoted him as saying.

Providers KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo said they would only use the highest 5G frequency in very busy spots, such as Amsterdam city centre and around stations.

According to Sander van der Zande, 5G project leader at Vodafone, the telecom companies have little financial gain from putting antennas, or ‘small cells’, on street furniture.

‘Earlier tests were not successful. We once spent day looking for one of our small cells which was lost because someone knocked down the lamppost it was attached to. (..) We prefer to use our own existing network locations,’ he said.



Online supermarkets on up but Dutch still get their bikes out to shop

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Supermarket Albert Heijn has come in at number three in the Twinkle top 100 of most popular online retailers. The list, collated by the digital commerce platform and Amsterdam’s hbo college, is based on annual turnover, and shows that grocery shopping at internet supermarkets is becoming increasingly popular.

Although Albert Heijn is still far from joining the league of numbers one and two – and Coolblue – online supermarket webshops such as Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Picnic are seeing double-figure increases in sales.

The Jumbo supermarket chain is currently in 10th place while Picnic went up from 25th to 11th place. ‘Supermarkets are doing well but we mustn’t exaggerate,’ retail expert Laurens Sloot told broadcaster NOS.

‘Of all our supermarket purchases, 4% are made online. By 2030 that could grow to 10% but that means we still get our bikes out and cycle to the nearest supermarket for the remaining 90%.’

Sloot also commented that supermarket delivery services are still loss-making for supermarkets and that this is affecting growth. Acccording to figures from e-commerce watchdog the Dutch will be spending almost €26bn on online purchases in 2019.



2020 budget: Opposition parties hope for quick wins in spending plan debate

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The opposition parties are set to demand more money for education, higher profit taxes for multinationals and higher taxes for wealthy individuals in two days of debate on the government’s 2020 spending plans.

The money, according to the alternative budget drawn up by GroenLinks, Labour and the Socialists, would go to boost salaries for teachers, healthcare workers, the police and legal aid lawyers.

Money should also go to cutting the own risk element in healthcare, frozen this year at €385 and on putting up the minimum wage by 2.5%, the left-wing parties say During the first round of the debate on Wednesday, MPs will call on the government to make changes to its plans in the hope that ministers, with one eye on the senate, will agree to make some compromises.

The four-party coalition government does not have a majority in senate and will rely on opposition parties to push through some of its more controversial measures. ‘It is no coincidence that the cabinet has said it will adopt legislation drawn up by GroenLinks which will lead to multinationals paying more tax,’ NOS commentator Fons Lambie said.

Budget measures affecting business

The main points of the budget Finance minister’s statement

The king’s speech

Government pledges that everyone will have more to spend next year will also come under fire because earlier promises have not been born out in practice.

Prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Tuesday evening that spending power forecasts always depend on collective wage agreements, tax cuts and inflation.

The cabinet says people in work will have at least 2% more to spend next year – the equivalent around €45 a month for someone with a gross average income of €3,000, the AD reported.

Time to adjust

Meanwhile, the Council of State, the government’s most senior advisory body, has warned that ministers must give people time to adjust to all the changes which are coming their way.

‘We cannot stop change… on the contrary, change is necessary to keep the country prosperous and to ensure public services remain affordable,’ the council’s vice president Thom de Graaf told Trouw in an interview. ‘But we should learn from the past.

Do not been too hasty in implementing major structural changes. And reserve enough money to make them. Do not forget the people who the changes are supposed to benefit.’



Blackface banned: Sooty-faced Piets only at official Sinterklaas arrival

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The national Sinterklaas procession in November will only include Piets with sooty faces, public broadcaster NTR, which organises the event, said on Tuesday.

The Sinterklaas festivities kick off in Apeldoorn on November 16 this year. The decision not to have any more Piets in blackface make-up was taken together with Apeldoorn council.

Last year there was a mix of blackface and sooty Piets at the procession, which is broadcast live on television. The NTR first introduced sooty Piets in 2014 and officials said earlier that the change would be phased in over a few years, following campaigning by anti-racism activists.

The Sinterklaasjournaal, a popular children’s programme which follows the adventures of Sinterklaas, will also only feature sooty Piets, NTR said. ‘This is a historic day,’ said Jerry Afriyie of the campaign group Kick Out Zwarte Piet.

‘This is the day that many black people in this country have waited for.’ ‘I think this has been a very difficult decision for the NTR to take,’ he said. ‘It takes guts to make the breakthrough.’

The portrayal of the saint’s helpers by blacked-up white actors has been the focus of many protests in recent years by anti-racism activists. In 2017 a group of counter-activists blocked the A7 motorway in Friesland to stop anti-racism campaigners reaching Dokkum, the scene of the official arrival ceremony.

Last year there were riots and arrests in Eindhoven as Zwarte Piet supporters attacked anti-Piet campaigners.


A survey at the end of last year found increasing numbers of Dutch people are willing to accept changes to the colour of ‘Black Piet’ as the debate about the tradition continues to rage.

Research by I&O found that 44% of people questioned supported the introduction of ‘sooty-faced’ Piets or other variations in appearance, compared to 32% when the survey was last carried out two years ago.

In recent years Piet has lost a number of other characteristics associated with racial stereotyping, such as thick curly hair, puffy red lips and large gold earrings.

Sinterklaas was first given a black page in a book called Sinterklaas and his Servant published in 1850 by schoolteacher Jan Schenkman. Schenkman also established that Sinterklaas lived in Spain and came to the Netherlands by steam ship.



Parliament publishes Annual Report 2018-2019

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Annual Report 2018-2019 of Parliament is now available to the public.

This report contains information about Parliament, the work done by Parliament, the meetings held, the finances, the attendance of the Members during meetings over the Parliamentary year 2018-2019, the voting records of Members of Parliament as well as other facts and figures of Parliament.

The Annual Report can be downloaded on


Dutch central bank chief criticises ECB interest rate cut to stimulate growth

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch central bank chief Klaas Knot has criticised yesterday’s decision by the European central bank to cut interest rates, in an effort to stimulate the region’s economy.

Knot, who is a member of the ECB’s governing council, said in a statement that measure is not in proportion to the current economic situation and that ‘there are sound reasons to doubt its effectiveness’.

‘The euro area economy is running at full capacity and wages are increasing. Financing conditions for consumers, businesses and governments are highly accommodating and provide no impediment to credit supply, consumption or investment,’ Knot said.

‘Meanwhile, there are increasing signs of scarcity of low-risk assets, distorted pricing in financial markets and excessive risk-seeking behaviour in the housing markets.’ The economic slowdown means that it will take longer for the ECB to reach its aim of inflation at below but close to 2%, Knot said.

However, there is no risk of deflation nor any signs of a euro area-wide recession. ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Thursday there is a ‘low but rising’ risk of recession. ‘The only observation is currently that the inflation outlook lags behind the ECB’s aim,’ Knot said.

‘This is worrying, but it does not imply that restarting a far-reaching measure such as the APP is the appropriate instrument,’ Knot said.



Urgent Plenary Public session of Parliament regarding the Dump fumes and the health hazards this carries

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in an Urgent Plenary Public meeting on September 13.

The Plenary Public meeting which was originally scheduled for November 15, 2018 but was not continued due to a lack of quorum, has been rescheduled for Friday at 14.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure and the Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor will be present.

The agenda point is: Discussion on the results of the survey regarding the Dump fumes and the health hazard this carries (IS/305/2018-2019 dated November 07, 2018)

This meeting was requested by MP A.M.R. Irion, MP S.E. Jacobs, MP E.J. Doran, MP W.V. Marlin and MP C.T. Emmanuel.

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 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet, and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.


Electricity disruptions impacts TelEm’s telecom systems on Wednesday morning

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group announced to its customers on Wednesday morning that the company’s main building  on Pond Island is closed for approximately one hour or until several telecommunications systems are back online.

In a Wednesday morning statement, TelEm explained that: “The system's automatically shut down due to overheating conditions caused by a damaged A/C unit. It appears the unit was damaged from several power outages that took place in the Philipsburg area Tuesday night.

“In order to get the systems back online, technicians need to shut down other systems  and bring them up again together, so that customers and vendors can once again be attended too.

TelEm Group expects services to resume and the main office on Pond Island to also re-open to the public at approximately 11:00 am today ( Wednesday).”

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