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Soualiga News (2221)

Public Prosecutor request six months imprisonment for suspect B.B.

PHILIPSBURG - The Public Prosecutor (OM) has asked the Court of First Instance to sentence criminal lawyer B.B. to unconditional prison time of 6 months on charges of bribery and inciting an immigration employee to abuse her position, a press release from the OM said on Wednesday.

According to the Public Prosecutor during the “Ostrich” investigation it was discovered, as a result of seizing a phone with WhatsApp conversations between a number of suspects, that B.B. had bribed immigration officers J.M. and K.B. into allowing two undocumented persons, working for a well-known insurance company, to enter the island.

The Public Prosecutor asked the judge to convict suspect B.B. on proof of bribery and incitement but to acquit the suspect of the human smuggling charge on the bases that suspect J.M. was also acquitted of this charge in the “Ostrich” investigation.

“The investigation “Ostrich” has been deemed by the defense to specifically focus on suspect B.B. However this is far from the truth,” the Public Prosecutor stated.

“The evidence against B.B. was coincidentally found when the phone of another suspect was seized. Bribing immigration officials in any manner seriously damages confidence in the government.

“In addition, public policies on illegal residency and entry was seriously undermined. On a small island like St. Maarten with many incoming and outgoing visitors the importance of a well-functioning border control system cannot be sufficiently emphasized.”

Moreover the Public Prosecutor requested the judge to bar B.B. from the post on the Supervisory Board of the well-known insurance company. The Public Prosecutor pointed out that as Supervisory Director, the suspect should have supervised management and operations of the insurance company, rather than committing such a crime.

“Suspect B.B. has not taken responsibility for the offences and although had resigned from the Supervisory Board of the insurance company, there is still the risk of repetition,” stated the Public Prosecutor.

In addition the Public Prosecutor said that B.B. has abused the position as a criminal lawyer and has damaged the trust that society can and should place in lawyers. The Public Prosecutor suggested the Bar Association of St. Maarten discuss this case with B.B., as the Bar Association is the organization with primary responsibility. “The ball is first and foremost in the court of the Bar Association on this point,” said the Public Prosecutor.

In the “Ostrich” investigation a number of immigration officials were sentenced to severe unconditional prison sentences for, among other things, human smuggling, bribery, abuse of function and participation in a criminal organization. The court will announce the verdict on Wednesday, May 30th, 2018.

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Henk Kamp appointed as member of Boards of financial supervision

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO – As of on July 1, 2018 former Minister Henk Kamp will sit on the Board of Financial Supervision (Cft) Curaçao and Sint Maarten and Cft Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

For the Board of financial supervision Aruba the appointment will take effect on August 1st. Appointed upon proposal of the Netherlands, he will succeed the current member Sybilla Dekker. Chairman Raymond Gradus: "Henk Kamp is someone with great governmental experience and ample affinity with the Caribbean; with the departure of Sybilla Dekker a gap would have arisen, which fortunately now has been filled up instantly. Given the state of public finances in the countries, demanding a lot of attention, I am delighted with the expertise that Henk brings in."

On May 9, 2018, the Kingdom Council of Ministers approved the appointment of Henk Kamp in the Boards of financial supervision. Earlier, the Council of Ministers had already done the same with his appointment in the Cft BES.

Henk Kamp has a long track record in public administration. For example, before he became a Minister, he was a municipal councilor, alderman, member of the Provincial Council of Gelderland and a member of the Second Chamber.

In the Balkenende I and II/III cabinets, he was respectively Minister for Housing, Urban Planning and Environmental management and for Defense. After that he was again a member of the Second Chamber and for two years Commissioner for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

He then served as Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Rutte I cabinet and as Minister of Economic Affairs in the Rutte II cabinet. Currently he still holds various other positions as chairman of the sector association of organizations active in the field of care and support for the elderly, the (chronically) sick and youth, and as chairman of the supervisory board at a hospital.

Henk Kamp succeeds his former colleague Sybilla Dekker who has been a member of the Cft for two periods since 2012. Sybilla Dekker was Minister for Housing, Urban Planning and Environmental management in the Balkenende II/III cabinet.

The sitting members of the CAft will say goodbye to her this summer. Raymond Gradus states: "With the departure of Sybilla we bid a highly valued and committed member goodbye; she always had an eye for the Caribbean context and the governmental relationships within which financial supervision must operate. With the other members, I look forward to working with Henk Kamp".

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Mentally disturbed female throws rocks at Parliament Building

PHILIPSBURG - On Tuesday May 8th between 10.45 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. a mentally disturbed female known to police and identified with initials D.C. threw two large rocks at the glass-door of the main entrance at the Parliament Building located in Philipsburg, causing two large cracks in the door. This incident happened while Members of Parliament were in discussion.

According to reports the female had been given medication to treat her condition about three days ago. The medication however did not to take effect with the result that she became aggressive.

She was apprehended by two officers on duty at the Parliament building and taken to the Philipsburg Police Station where she was met by personnel from the Mental Health Foundation. She was given medication and then taken to the foundation for further treatment. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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DUTCH QUARTER TOWN HALL MEETING ON 10TH EDF PROJECT SET FOR MAY 16

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) – The public in general and residents of Dutch Quarter in particular are being invited to an informative Town Hall Meeting, to take place on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

St. Maarten’s Prime Minister, the honorable Leona Romeo-Marlin is scheduled to open the meeting and Minister of VROMI, the honorable Miklos Giterson is expected to address the audience at this event. Following this, presentations about the project will also be made.

The upcoming Town Hall Meeting, which is to take place at the Dutch Quarter Community Center, is a follow-up to earlier dialogue with the district’s residents. This is being organized by the government’s departments of Interior and Kingdom Relations and New Projects.

The meeting will serve as an opportunity to provide Dutch Quarter residents with details of the latest developments regarding the 10th EDF project, which concerns a sewerage project in the district of Dutch Quarter. As is known, the country of St. Maarten and the European Commission (EC) signed the financing agreement, which outlined a co-financing structure with a contribution of 4.75 million euros.

In the meantime, the Government of St. Maarten has signed the 10th EDF Works Contract with Van Boekel Bouw and Infra BV and the construction works are expected to commence this summer.

The project will entail the construction of a much needed sewerage system including a pumping station, sewer to house connections, infrastructure upgrading and ancillary works in the district. The project specifically targets the upgrading of the sewerage infrastructure in the Dutch Quarter district.

Overall, it is the intention that the project will serve to improve the living conditions of low-income residents and reduce poverty on St. Maarten.

Following presentations to be made by the various partners, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions on the pertinent issues and the way forward.

The town hall meeting is part of promoting a healthy exchange of views within a framework of transparency and acknowledging the importance of stakeholder contribution.

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Cultural Heritage Inspectorate visits Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATUIS - The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate visited Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius from April 16th to 26th. This Inspectorate supervises the management of public records and archives in both the European and Caribbean Netherlands.

The purpose of the visit to the Caribbean Netherlands was to investigate the quality of public records management; and of course to get acquainted with the agencies which are responsible for the public records and archive management on the islands. 

Public records are important. Proper management of this information enables the government to provide accountability. However, it also contributes to the effective and efficient functioning of all government units. Furthermore, state archives are part of the cultural heritage.

The BES Archive Act (Archiefwet BES) and the BES Archive Decree (Archiefbesluit BES) (2010) also apply to the public entities in the Caribbean Netherlands. During its visit to the Caribbean Netherlands, the Cultural Heritage Inspectorate investigated how the local agencies which manage archives operate and what they need to observe the requirements for archive management imposed by this Archive Act.

The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate also monitors compliance with the 1995 Archive Act (Archiefwet 1995) at Central Government institutions which manage archives. In the Caribbean Netherlands these include, for instance, the Tax Office and the Healthcare Insurance Office.

The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate also visited those institutions in the Caribbean Netherlands. Again the purpose was to gain insight into the method of operation; and what might be needed to be able to observe the requirements of the 1995 Archive Act.

The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate is an independent regulatory authority under the responsibility of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, OCW). The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate aims to realise good quality management and preservation of public records and cultural heritage. The ultimate goal is to make all records from state archives permanently available and accessible. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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COCI Baker: Sint Maarten needs to be storm-ready for the hurricane season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) Executive Director Anastacio Baker says that Sint Maarten needs to be storm-ready for the upcoming hurricane season.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin on June 1 which is not that far away. 

“I am calling on the members of the COCI, businesses of all sizes as well as the wider community, to start making preparations for the upcoming hurricane season. Preliminary forecast indicate that we are in for another busy season after having already gone through one of the worse seasons on record seven months ago.

“Put together a family emergency plan for the 2018 season; start stocking up on basic disaster supply items that would include non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlight, chargers, cash, and medication, and first aid supplies.  One should have at least one week of supplies that could sustain their family.   

COCI hereby also encourages all businesses and their owners to help their staff also prepare for the season in various ways as mentioned above. Ensure that the awareness of being prepared is talked about on the work floor.

Baker added that COCI carried out a preliminary survey amongst its membership which identified a number of concerns of the country’s business community. 

COCI members are very concerned about not having a proper enforcement plan directly after the passing of the storm “We are all aware of the limitations of our current Police Force and with a major powerful hurricane like Irma, I believe we have learnt our lesson with respect to our weaknesses and can turn these weaknesses into strengths by being prepared.

 “We cannot afford a repeat of what transpired in September 2017 after Irma. The damage caused by looting had a serious impact on our economy and all should be done to minimize this from reoccurring. The business community is looking forward to being informed in a timely manner about the plans that will be put in place to protect the country’s business/economic sectors from potential looting in the event of another powerful hurricane.”

“The business community is the economic engine of the economy, and for a quicker recovery, these sectors need to be protected before and after a major hurricane strike.  The writing is on the wall from the recent experience with Irma,” COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker pointed out.

Another concern that came out of the survey was some form of tax break/incentive for the business community. The country comprises of micro, small, medium and large businesses that employ thousands of people in the workforce.

“Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are important to almost all economies in the world, and country Sint Maarten is no different.  They are the backbone of our economy and employ many people and contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product and to Government’s revenues.

“Our SMEs suffered a significant impact from Irma seven months ago, but many have made a remarkable recovery, and many more are still trying to make a comeback and need some form of assistance in order to be able to do so. 

“Some form of tax break or incentive would make a considerable difference on how well the SMEs fulfil their role in contributing to rebuilding of the national economy.  One of the significant characteristics of a flourishing and growing economy is a booming and blooming SMEs sector.

“There has been a noticeable number of stay-over tourists vacationing on the island during the past months. We have had a successful St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and Carnival.  Our visitors stayed in the limited number of hotel rooms that are available and open, in guesthouses, villas etc.  Cruise tourism has returned and that has also brought considerable amounts of money back into the economy.

“The aforementioned tourist numbers will drop as we enter the bridging or so-called slow season from May to the end of September. During this extraordinary period in our nation’s economic history, things are going to be very challenging for SMEs and there should be some form of discussion about tax breaks/incentives,” COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker concluded.   

Seeing the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, COCI members pointed out during the survey that the country’s building code needs to be enforced and adjusted where necessary, and that it is in line with more powerful storm systems that the island experienced in September 2017 and where meteorologists say will be the new norm going forward with respect to global climate changes that is causing severe and hazardous weather around the world.

The 2017 season was an extremely active one producing 17 named storms of which 10 became hurricanes including six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).

The 2017 season was a devastating one, and according to the U.S. National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the season was the seventh most active in the historical record dating to 1851 and was the most active season since 2005.

COCI also encourages all businesses and the population at large to ensure that have the right coverage with regards to Hurricane Insurances. Although we have seen a spike in the insurance premiums which has placed more burden on our people of St. Maarten, it is never the less extremely important that we insure our assets.

The latter COCI hopes to give more attention too in subsequent communications/releases.

Be Safe, Be Sure and remember “We Good”.

CUTLINE: Photo contributed.  A scene right after the passing of Hurricane Irma.

COCI INS1

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Rafael Boasman appointed as Quartermaster for setup of Integrity Chamber

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Council of Ministers has appointed Mr. Rafael Boasman as Quartermaster of the Integrity Chamber with the task of setting up the institution on Sint Maarten.

The setup of the Integrity Chamber involves finding an appropriate office location and the hiring of qualified staff to run the day-to-day operations among others.

The Netherlands has also appointed Mr. Hans Lobber as Quartermaster and he is expected to visit Sint Maarten shortly. Communication between both men has already commenced as preparations for the establishment of the Integrity Chamber remains of utmost importance for the Government of Sint Maarten.

On Friday May 4th, Mr. Boasman paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin where he outlined his activities thus far and expressed his gratitude for the confidence that has been placed on him to execute the task as Quartermaster of the Integrity Chamber.

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Settlement of insurance claim for Government building paves way for reconstruction

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Settlement of the insurance claim for the repairs to the New Government Building due to the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria pave the way for reconstruction of the building with an anticipated completion date before the start of the upcoming hurricane season.

The building is owned by SZV (Social & Health Insurances) but rented by Government. Damages sustained were both to the exterior and interior of the building and were estimated at USD 2.653.000,-.

The insurance claim for the damages was settled for USD 2.450.000,- after a deducible of USD 540.000,-. The exterior damages being namely to the roof and the shutters. The interior damages are visible on Levels 1 to 4 of the building. The data writing system, air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems of some of the offices were also on the list of damages claimed. 

Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor Emil Lee stated, “I would like to commend the SZV team that managed its insurance claim, obviously one of the first and most critical steps is getting the financial resources for the rebuilding process. The Government building which is rented from SZV serves a command post for disasters.

“I am confident that SZV will work hard to ensure that the building is repaired and repaired to a high standard, with the knowledge of what Mother Nature is capable of. 
With each step, with every reconstruction project, we create job opportunities for our people and much needed economic activity. St. Maarten thanks SZV for getting another reconstruction project started!”

The construction of the New Government Building was finalized by SZV eight months ago, just before the passing of the storms. Government has a lease agreement of 30 years with SZV and commenced rent payments in July 2017.

The move of the various departments to the new building has allowed Government to save on double rents. Despite the challenges of the country after the passing of the storms, Government has consistently been able to uphold their monthly rental agreement.

Fortunately, the building was not severely damaged. After the storms, the building was able to quickly and comfortably house those Government departments that had not yet moved in prior to the storms but were severely damaged. The cooperation of the various project teams allowed for a quick move of those departments into the new building, minimizing disruption to critical Government services to the public after the storms.
  
Directly after the storms, the SZV project team was able to assess the damages and initiate the claims procedures. The estimate of repair costs was completed by ICE and the insurance claim was submitted to Gulf Insurance, the assigned insurance company for the building.

Currently the project team is nearing the completion phase of the internal repairs. Once completed, exterior repairs will continue, mainly to the roof and shutters. The repairs have been going smoothly causing no interruption to the Government services rendered to the public. 

“SZV would like to thank the project team for their continued hard work as well as the insurance company for the efficient processing of the claims procedure to be able to finalize all repairs necessary, in time for the upcoming hurricane season.” – Management SZV

ngb Photo 1 ins

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Traffic diversions as trench-work resumes on Monday

PHILIPSBURG - The Carnival season for 2018 is over, the children will be back in school and the trench-work on the W.G. Buncamper road leading from Point Blanche to the Freedom Fighters round about will resume as of Monday May 7th 2018 at 6.00 a.m., the Police Public Relations department said over the weekend in a statement.

“This trench-work will require traffic diversions into and coming from the direction of Point Blanche. These diversions will also have influence on the traffic circulating in Philipsburg and surrounding.

“W.G. Buncamper road: Traffic coming from the Point Blanche area will not be allowed to make a left turn onto the Emmaplein using the Welvaart brug. Drivers will have to proceed towards the Freedom Fighters round about.

“Front Street: Traffic coming from Front Street will not be allowed to make a left turn onto Emmaplein in the direction of Back Street and Voges Street. Drivers will have to proceed towards Welvaart Brug and make a left turn towards Freedom Fighters round about.

“Cannegieter Street: Traffic coming from the Cannegieter Street towards Voges Street will not be allowed to make a left turn onto Voges Street. Drivers will have to make a right turn on to Voges Street in the direction of Emmaplein and onto Welvaart Brug followed by a left turn into the direction of Freedom Fighters round about.

“Walter Nisbet road/ Sucker garden road: Traffic going towards Point Blanche from the Walter Nisbet road and Sucker Garden road will have to make use of Voges Street and Emmaplein onto Welvaart brug and then a right turn onto Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard and proceed to point Blanche.

Voges Street: The Voges Street will be concerted into one way traffic leading to Emmaplein towards Welvaart brug.

“Temporary traffic signs will be placed at all locations where traffic has been diverted. All drivers are asked to pay keen attention to this information and following the traffic signs to allow the traffic to flow as smooth as possible.” (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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After CFT recommends for more Dutch Tax Inspectors, BP organizes Seminar

PHILIPSBURG – “The management of Directors of Benjamin & Parker (B&P), an elite E-Tax Consultancy firm, will cater a seminar to their SXM Network in SXM after the CFT spokesman recommended more Dutch Inspectors hiring,” B&P said in a statement on Friday.

“The management of the mentioned firm has been involved in the taxation field since the late 80’s in the entire Dutch Caribbean and has compiled several tax collection actions by the European Inspectors,” the statement continued.

The seminar will cover the following topics:

1) Three decades of Dutch Caribbean Tax Collections

2) Three decades of European Dutch Collection approach

3) European and Dutch Caribbean Inspectors mindset conflict

The participating associates and candidate associates will be informed on the envisioned collection strategies and how to address these collection schemes while preparing the SXM associates to manage high risk cases, the statement added.

The associates are:

Executive Financial Services (EFS) Mrs. Anne Halley

PCMI Mr. Robert Budike

STP Tax Partners: Mrs Donna Sylvester

Amani Financial Services Mrs. Jenifer Johnson

Bookkeeping Solutions Mrs. Ashma John and Candidate Associates

“Plans are to give a 12 hour seminar also to the general business community at a later date, however the stakeholders can register from now at PCMI above Office World, where Mr. Robert Budike will provide you the details hereof,” B&P concluded in its statement.

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