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Soualiga Newsday Features (1501)

Annual SMGA Santa Claus Scramble huge success

SINT MAARTEN (MULLET BAY) - Under sunny skies and perfectly manicured fairways, 64 golfers wearing Santa hats and dressed in colorful Santa outfits, took over Mullet Bay Golf Course on Saturday while participating in the 2018 annual Santa Scramble.

The annual Santa Scramble tournament organized by the St. Maarten Golf Association was again a tremendous success. This year this annual December event was enjoyed by 16 teams of four members each.

After a fierce battle and lots of fun the winner of this year’s Santa Scramble was the team of Haillant, Rosa, LeBlanc Morin and Dare who ended the 18 holes stroke play event with a total score of 60 low net.

Second prize was won by the team of Holmes, Zorn, Wijnhoud and Groeneveld. Third prize was taken by the team consisting of Struthers, Hallam, De la Salle and Gurr with a score of 63 low net.

After the tournament, all players enjoyed the award ceremony and contributed generously to the silent auction items at the after party at Bar-Restaurant Barcode in Cupecoy.

During this event awards were also presented to the runner up and winner for the 2018 Club Championship named the Thomas Smith Challenge Cup after long time dedicated member and founder of the SMGA, Thomas Smith.

Francois Anton was runner up with Buzz Adamski the winner. The St. Maarten Golf Association is a non-profit organization that welcomes all beginning and experienced golfers, tourists and St. Maarten / St. Martin residents alike to become members.

Every month the association organizes Scramble matches, Medal Play tournaments as well as the annual St. Maarten Open in April.

If you like to become a member for as little as USD 85 per year, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/St.MaartenGolfAssociation or www.sxmgolfassociation.com

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SCDF thanks government for Carnival on license plates

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Friday thanked the Government of St. Maarten, more specifically the Tax Department, for considering and including Carnival in regards the 2019 license plates.

The board of the foundation said Carnival is St. Maarten’s largest, longest and oldest calendar event that has brought thousands to the island over the years and hundreds more year-over-year. Entrepreneurship simulation, initiatives that have grown into year-long events, employment opportunities and strategically beneficial to the country in April are all aspects that underscore the importance of Carnival to St. Maarten, the foundation said.

“It is without a doubt a significant economic driver on St. Maarten that directly or indirectly benefits all. In terms of scale, no other event comes close and this is thanks to many Carnival stakeholders over many decades. We always welcome ways to keep Carnival in the minds of our visitors and any gesture surrounding Carnival could result in return visitors to our island,” the SCDF said.

“In 2019 we celebrate 50 years of Carnival. No other event on St. brings so many people from so many cultures together to celebrate local music, food, history, creativity and that of our Caribbean brothers and sisters. We only get to celebrate a Golden 50th once, and we thank the Tax Department for thinking about Carnival in this manner and in so doing honoring many great, hard-working St. Maarteners, all volunteers, who have brought carnival to this point,” the board of the foundation said.

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Piper Davis Baseball group pay courtesy call to Romeo-Marlin

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Recently, youth baseball group Piper Davis Baseball paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin.

The objective of the short meeting was to brief the Prime Minister on the latest activities of the group while visiting the island.

Piper Davis Baseball is an Inner-City Baseball Organization designed to give all baseball players an opportunity to grow on and off the field

The Piper Davis Baseball group, accompanied by Dr. Rhoda Arrindell is busy assisting interested local student athletes with opportunities to study at colleges in the United States, while playing sports.

Arrindell’s United Academy will collaborate with the group to ensure that the students are adequately prepared before they travel.

Also, on the agenda for 2019 is the Piper Davis Caribbean Tournament, which is scheduled to take place from June 27th – 30th. This is the fourth time the Piper Davis Baseball group has been to Sint Maarten, and the members are encouraged based on their discussions this time around.

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Rotary Sunset donates BMI machine to Diabetes Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - On Monday December 17th, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset held its final general meeting for 2018. During the meeting, President Jaida Nisbett presented Amanda Wever and Lotty Peterson of the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten (DFS) with a monetary donation toward the purchase of a Body Mass Index (BMI) machine.

In November, DFS contacted the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset seeking assistance to purchase a much-needed BMI machine to better assist in the weighing and documenting of patients’ information. Peterson and Lotty expressed their gratitude to the club for their generous contribution as it will expand their reach in combating the diabetes epidemic on the island.

The DFS also gave a short presentation on the health risks associated with the consumption of various foods. Members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset were given the opportunity to have the blood pressure and glucose tested at the meeting.

Also present at the club’s meeting, were Mr. Bart van der Meijden and Mr. Cyrille Brooks of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) who gave a presentation on the state of Mental Health on the island, the role of the MHF in our community as well as the programs and services provided by the foundation. Mr. Van Der Meijden also discussed the challenges that the MHF are currently faced with as well as some of the future plans of MHF.

During the meeting, the various committees Chair discussed upcoming projects for 2019. Fellow Rotarians Jade Maccow, Anjolie Carty and Norma Rombley were presented with their official membership pin and certificate by District Governor Nominee Designate, DGND Louis Wever, and President Jaida. DGND Wever was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for his contributions to the club as the official aide to Rotary International President, Barry Rassin, during his visit to the island.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to express its gratitude to the representatives of the Mental Health Foundation and the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten for their insightful presentations and for the continued efforts in shaping our community.

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Health council recommends adding more vaccinations to national list

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch health council said on Wednesday that it backs vaccinating all 14-month-old babies and all 14-year-olds against meningococcal types C and W and has urged the government to add the injections to the national vaccination programme.

Babies of 14 months are already given the vaccination as standard, but teenagers are being offered a one-off injection in 2018 and 2019. The health council now says that should happen every year.

However, it does not recommend vaccinations against meningococcal type B because of the side effects which can include high temperatures, and a lack of clarity about its effectiveness.

Meningococcal W claimed 18 lives in the Netherlands the first eight months of 2018, three times as many as the equivalent period last year. The infection most commonly occurs in the 15 to 19 age group and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

The virus can live in the nasal passages without causing infection, but if it enters the bloodstream or nervous system it can trigger symptoms similar to gastric flu such as high temperatures, vomiting and diarrhoea.

On Tuesday, the health council said babies need only be vaccinated twice against whooping cough, if their mothers were vaccinated against the disease during their pregnancy. (DutchNews)

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Dutch economy still doing well, but is past its peak: CPB

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch economy continues to do well but is now past its peak, the government’s macro-economic think-tank CPB said in its December economic forecast.

Next year, the CPB forecasts ‘robust’ economic growth of 2.2% but given the growth percentages of 2.9% in 2017 and 2.6% in 2018, growth is now leveling off, the CPB said.

Several other forecasts in the past few days have reflected that trend. The uncertainties which may have a negative economic impact remain substantial, the CPB said. ‘Outside the Netherlands, this is related to developments around the trade conflict between the United States and China, Brexit, the Italian budget, and the demonstrations in France,’ the organisation said.

‘The figures continue to be good,’ said CPB director Laura van Geest ‘Labour participation and unemployment have returned to their pre-recession levels, but the outlook is becoming less rosy.’

The CPB sees unemployment falling to its lowest level since 2013 next year, when it will drop to 3.6%. Purchasing power will also rise – up from 0.3% this year to 1.6% in 2019.

Wages

Labour shortages and higher inflation will cause rising increases in contract wages. Higher rents and increases in indirect taxes, in addition to wage cost increases, will contribute to the rising inflation.

Next year will also be the third consecutive year in which the government budget surplus will be at least 1% of GDP, the CBS said. However, in 2019, the budget balance, corrected for the economic circumstances, is projected to decline to a shortage of 0.2% of GDP.

Other forecasts

Earlier this week, the Dutch central bank forecast that economic growth would slow to 1.7% next year and in 2020, down from earlier forecasts of 2.2% and 1.9%. ‘Despite slightly lower growth figures, the Dutch economy will be running at full steam in the years ahead, with actual output exceeding its potential,’ the central bank said Monday.

Last Friday, Rabobank economists said that while growth will continue, it will be hit by both the shortage of workers and falling growth rates abroad. They forecast the Dutch economy will grow by 1.9% next year and 1.7% in 2020. And earlier that week, ABN Amro said it is also revising down its economic growth forecast next year, from 2.5% to 2%. It, too, puts economic growth this year at 2.6%. (DutchNews)

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BIP SXM submits Multi-Annual Budget & Policy Plan 2019-2023 to Minister of TEATT

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Stuart Johnson has received the Bureau Intellectual Properties’ Policy Plan and financial forecasts for 2019 to 2023.

It is a requirement for the TEATT Minister to review and approve the budget once he finds everything in order. This year the BTP was granted an extension of the deadline for submitting their policy plan and financial forecast for the subsequent five (5) years under Article 16 of the Landsverordening Bureau Intellectueel Eigendom, which establishes the annual deadline for submittal of the annual budget of income and expenditure.

The Bureau’s normal operation was disrupted in 2017 due to damage sustained at their office as a result of the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria which forced them to move to a new location.

Minister Johnson said, “The work being done by the BTP on St. Maarten cannot be understated. As we continue to encourage our talented individuals to produce, we should also ensure that their intellectual property is protected. Knowing what your rights to your creations are, is very important.”

On Thursday, November 29th, 2018 the BTP Sint Maarten submitted the 2019-2023 Multi-Annual Budget and Policy Plan to the Minister for approval. 

"BIP SXM is a modern and professional organisation, focused on sustainable growth. We create awareness about the importance of intellectual property through various initiatives, such as regular posts on Social Media, participating in events, organising workshops and other activities which target the growth of businesses and Entrepreneurs on Sint Maarten." says the Director of BIP SXM.

The Bureau registers trademarks and provides information about other areas of intellectual property, such as patents and copyright, to the public. More information regarding the Bureau and its services can be found on www.bip.sx and on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn)."

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Dutch population to hit 18 million in 10 years, says CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Some 3.5 million people in the Netherlands are likely to live alone by 2030, a rise of 400,000 on the current total, national statistics agency CBS says in its new population forecasts.

In particular, elderly women are likely to be living alone, as women on the whole live longer than men, the CBS said. By 2030, the Netherlands will consist of around 8.5 million households, compared with 7.9 million at present.

The population is likely to hit around 18 million in 2029, by which time a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65. The number of over-80s will rise to 1.2 million by then, the CBS says.

The current population of the Netherlands is 17.1 million. Nevertheless, the figures need to be used with caution, the CBS says, because immigration figures are uncertain.

The population shifts will also have an impact on housing and the shortage of properties suitable for families will grow, if older people continue living in their family home.

‘Every year, 100,000 young families need to be housed,’ Delft University professor Peter Boelhouwer told NOS radio. Elderly people are often reluctant to move and like living where they do, he said.

‘Just 3% really want to move, compared with 9% of people in other age groups,’ he said. ‘It is a difficult thing to do if you are used to living in a certain place.’ (DutchNews)

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Minister gets tough on language schools after rise in fraud reports

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Social affairs ministry inspectors have found ‘serious abuse of public resources and vulnerable students’ at 87 of 227 branded language schools which are helping people prepare for integration exams.

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees told MPs that language schools find it easy to commit fraud with people who are new to the Netherlands and do not speak the language.

‘Every form of fraud involving public resources is unacceptable,’ Koolmees said in his briefing. ‘And the recent rise in reports of fraud are extremely worrying.’ New arrivals to the Netherlands have three years to pass a string of integration exams to be able to stay in the country and are able to borrow up to €10,000 to pay for lessons.

However, many people taking the courses are unaware of the conditions attached to the loans and cannot judge if the language school they are attending is up to the job, Koolmees told MPs.

In 22 of the cases identified by inspectors there is ‘strong to extremely strong’ indication of fraud, in 12 a ‘very strong’ indication and in 55 an ‘indication’.

The minister does not go into details about what the language schools are said to have done but it would appear to involve advance payments for courses which are not up to scratch or do not take place at all.

Public prosecutor

The public prosecution department and the inspectors are now deciding what action should be taken, the minister said. Some are likely to face prosecution.

Language schools where fraud has been identified will lose the Blik op Werk trade mark – 45 schools have already been removed from the system this year.

The ‘Blik op Werk’ trade mark was introduced several years ago in an effort to weed out cowboys. Immigrants can only get a government loan to pay for their integration course if they go to an approved school.

E-learning

In addition, all forms of e-learning which do not take place at the language school itself will no longer count towards the number of hours of lessons.

Student loan organisation DUO has also begun publishing information about the integration process on its website in languages other than Dutch.

The organisation will also stop paying for courses in advance. Koolmees earlier announced plans to overhaul the integration system and the system of grants will be abolished.

Instead local councils will be given budgets for language tuition to ease the burden on applicants. (DutchNews)

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GroenLinks MP calls on government to regulate ecstasy production

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government should regulate the production of party drug ecstasy to remove it from the criminal circuit, GroenLinks parliamentarian Kathalijne Buitenweg says in Monday’s Volkskrant.

‘The government does not have to make the pills itself but should regulate production,’ to make sure they meet proper quality standards, Buitenweg said. ‘It is not just a question of health but a question of doing something about the worrying increase in criminal power,’ she told the paper.

The MP wants the government to take the initiative to revise UN drugs treaties and points out that the World Health Organisation has also called for a revision of the way drugs are ranked as dangerous.

‘We have to ask ourselves what the treaties have delivered,’ she said. ‘Has usage gone down. Is there less crime? I don’t think so. Earlier this year, Amsterdam police chief Erik Akerboom said more should be done to counteract the ‘normalisation’ of drug use and that users are supporting violent crime.

And justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has warned that drugs money is being used to undermine the legal economy.

Brabant

The situation is particularly acute in the south of the country, in Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. Last year, police broke up 127 drugs labs in Brabant and 57 in Limburg, compared with 136 in the rest of the country.

Breda mayor Paul Depla also told the Volkskrant the government should take a stand. ‘Give me one argument why alcohol is freely available, and ecstasy is banned?’ he said.

‘I am only saying what experts say, that ecstasy is not as dangerous as alcohol.’ Depla is at the forefront of local authority efforts to bring in regulated marijuana production in the Netherlands.

Coalition

Representatives of the four coalition parties later dismissed the call for regulated ecstasy production out of hand. ‘It is as if you are talking about smarties, not drugs. It is dangerous stuff, ‘VVD MP Antoinette Laan told the AD.

While welcoming GroenLinks’ input to try to solve the problem, Laan said that this is not an option. ‘We want extra police manpower instead,’ she said. (DutchNews)

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