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24 from FHSU arrive in SXM for the EM.PWR Summit

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 21 students and 3 faculty will be arriving on St. Maarten from Fort Hays, Kansas to provide business and community support between May 16 and May 20. 

The students of Fort Hays State University (FHSU) will be paired with local businesses to provide support in areas of accounting, management, tourism, and even agriculture. This would be the third year that FSHU have come to St. Maarten and the first one that the faculty will be doing master classes.

This program, now called EM.PWR Summit, will benefit entrepreneurs, professionals, managers, and business owners with one-on-one business support sessions during the week with the faculty, a panel discussion, and master classes. 

The faculty of FHSU include Jessica Heronemus, a professor of accounting and a specialist in being able to detet fraud in accounting systems and the preventative measures and methods. 

Dr. George Babu has a PhD and DBA in Business Management studies.  He has done extensive business research and has expertise in areas such as innovation & entrepreneurship, sustainable tourism, and consumer behaviour.

Ron Rohlf is a specialist in communication media studies and has studied television, radio, computer networking and web development. Mr. Rohlf teaches both Media Studies and Computer Networking. These faculty are available by appointment on Wednesday-Friday (May 16-18) to support entrepreneurs, managers, and business owners for a nominal fee of $20 per hour.

On Sunday, May 20, 2018, there will be a panel discussion focusing on what it means to be resilient, s called “Resilient Is…” at Simpson Bay Beach Resort at from 2:30 – 4:30 pm.

This panel discussion will include various experts and one of the faculty to will discuss ways for entrepreneurs, businesses, and the community at large to be more resilient in affordable and unique ways.

Following the panel discussion, which is a gift from the organizers, at 6:30 pm on the same evening, there will be master classes on accounting, sustainable tourism and media to better equip attendees with critical tools to grow their business and manage costs. These master classes, given by the FHSU faculty, are designed to be interactive and informative and require a low registration fee.

Some of the benefits of the EM.PWR Summit is for the local community are business and entrepreneurial support, affordable tools to grow your business, personal, and professional development, customized strategies, connecting with like-minded individuals, and community engagement and support.  For the students and faculty of FHSU, they will learn more about diversity, resilience, socio-economic impact, and skill development.

EM.PWR Summit is hosted by the Produce Wealth Revolution (PWR) Agency, St. Maarten’s first incubator providing entrepreneurial and business support services, a network, co-working spaces, and unique projects for discerning corporations.

 To register for the EM.PWR summit or find out more about The PWR agency email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call/WhatsApp +1-721-523-1842. 

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‘Police face thousands of claims for damage to doors and violent arrests’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch police have paid out millions of euros in claims following violent or wrongful arrests and damage to property since 2013, broadcaster NOS said on Saturday.

In total, the police face some 500 ‘large’ claims a year, NOS said. A claim is considered to be large if it is for more than €2,500. Most claims related to home raids and damage to property, such as a front door which has been forced open.

However, others related to ‘heavy handed arrests’ of loss of property which has been confiscated in connection with an investigation. Claims are also made when property is damaged during a chase or if a home has to be broken into because someone could be ill or in difficulty, NOS said.

In total, the police paid out €5.8m between 2013 and mid-2017 to people claiming damage property or physical injury. Some 668 claims were made for broken-down doors and 497 for violent arrests but the NOS report does not say how many of those were honoured.

‘Every time damage is caused is one too many, but given the size of the police force… and the fact that officers have to deal with very difficult situations, the number of claims is not bad,’ spokesman Onno Meijer told the broadcaster.

However, in an effort to reduce the number of damages claims, the police are now setting up a central registration point to identify measures which can be taken, Meijer said. (DutchNews)

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Father and son rushed to hospital after falling into a manure pit

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A father and son have been rushed to hospital after falling into a manure pit on a farm in Groningen, broadcaster NOS said on Saturday.

Both were unconscious when they were freed from the manure pit by firemen, apparently after being overcome by fumes. It is unclear how long they were trapped before the emergency services arrived.

NOS said the son, a teenager, may have fallen into the pit while working and his father fell in while trying to rescue him. Accidents involving rotting farm manure, which contains hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide, are not unknown in the Netherlands.

In high concentrations, each of these gases may pose a health threat to both humans and livestock. In 2013, three farm workers were killed after becoming trapped in a manure silo and in 2008 two men have been killed by fumes while working with manure on a farm in Friesland. (DutchNews)

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KLM and Transavia move more passengers than Air France in April

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – KLM and its Transavia subsidiary carried 4.3 million passengers in April, putting the Dutch arm ahead of Air France which moved 3.9 million passengers in that month.

The figures, published on Friday, places even more stress on beleagured Air France KLM ahead of the combine’s AGM on Tuesday. KLM’s passenger numbers were 5.2% higher than in April 2017, while Air France’s figures reflected a 8.7% decline.

Passenger numbers for the Franco-Dutch alliance were down 2.5% in April. This was the first time KLM carried more passengers in a month than Air France. Air France KLM said in a statement the decline in Air France passenger numbers in April was ‘due to eight days of strike’.

Strikes are what are pulling the fragile partnership apart. Air France pilots are seeking a fatter pay package and industrial action in support of this are ongoing.

Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra is in Paris on Friday to discuss the problems with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire ahead of the AGM. (DutchNews)

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Employers, universities warn 30% ruling cuts will hurt the Dutch economy

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Opposition is mounting to the government’s plans to cut a special tax break for some expats, with employers, academic organisations and expat groups saying the proposal is damaging the country’s reputation and will seriously hurt many people financially.

The government wants to cut the length of time that the 30% ruling covers from eight to five years and plans to implement the cut from January 2019, hitting thousands of people who had been told the tax break would last longer.

So far over 22,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to honour its commitments to the international community, over 5,000 have joined a Facebook page campaigning for a rethink and 2,400 have taken part in a survey by the International Community Advisory Panel which is quantifying the impact.

The Dutch universities association VSNU told DutchNews it is writing to junior finance minister Menno Snel urging him to rethink the plan, which will cut thousands of euros a year from expat academics’ income.

In particular, the lack of a transition programme for people who suddenly lose the benefit has caused alarm, the spokesman said. ‘A professor here on a four-year contract will not be able to take a second four-year term if this goes through,’ he said.

‘The 30% ruling as it now stands has a very positive impact on academia, which is international anyway,’ he said. ‘This will be bad for the reputation of the Netherlands.’

Employers

Employers organisations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland have described the plan as ‘not good’ and say the measure will make the Netherlands less attractive compared with other foreign countries.

‘It will not make it any easier to attract foreign talent but we need that talent because of the tight jobs market,’ the organisation says. In addition, existing claims should be honoured because a ‘trustworthy government is essential for a good investment climate.’

The impact of the decision is is so serious that it may affect companies’ willingness to bring high-powered people to the Netherlands, a senior manager at one multinational with a significant presence in the Netherlands told DutchNews.

Stable government

‘The Netherlands is a popular place to do business because of its strong and stable government,’ he said. ‘But we can employ people anywhere in the world – we have offices in the US and Singapore and we are now reconsidering whether or not to bring senior staff to the Netherlands.’

‘This is a political decision and it is a stupid one financially,’ he said. ‘In the end it will hurt the economy. Global companies that bring in expats also create many permanent jobs and careers for Dutch nationals.

‘The government has a responsibility to safeguard these local jobs by keeping the critical mass of global companies in the Netherlands. Making the 30% ruling less attractive puts local jobs at risk.’

Transition period

The current plan means that someone earning around €60,000 a year will have to pay some €8,000 more in tax, plus a further penalty if their employer pays for their children to attend an international school.

Jessica Piotrowski, spokeswoman for the United Expats in the Netherlands movement which has gathered over 5,000 supporters in a week, said many people were very surprised that the proposed five-year limit would apply to current beneficiaries.

‘I based by life and financial decisions on my salary with the 30% ruling. A deal is a deal,’ said Piotrowski. ‘We’re not trying to resist the change, we understand that the government has the right to make changes.

But this sudden and unexpected decision affecting thousands of people is unfair and will leave many unable to meet the financial commitments that they have made.’ When the ruling was cut from 10 to eight years, there was a period of transition for current beneficiaries.

Scrap it completely

Dutch trade union federation FNV, however, says the 30% ruling should be completely scrapped, arguing that even with the cut from eight to five years, the scheme will still cost taxpayers €670m.

This is money which could be better spent on healthcare or education, FNV board member Tuur Elzinga said in an article on website Joop.nl. ‘The ruling is an open invitation to companies to … bring in staff from abroad because they are cheaper.

Employers benefit from the tax break and this undermines the level playing field on the jobs market.’ Parliament’s finance committee will discuss the government’s plan in The Hague on May 31. (DutchNews)

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New names complete line-up Curacao North Sea Jazz 2018

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO – “We are proud to announce the final artists that complete the line-up of this year’s Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival. Friday 31 August sees the return of Sting to the island, joined on stage by Shaggy,” organizers of the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival 2018 said on Friday.

“Together they are the closing headliner of the Sam Cooke stage. On Saturday no other than Christina Aguilera will take the Sam Cooke stage. Also performing on Saturday on the Sir Duke stage is CeeLo Green.

“Sting has been a household name in music for decades, receiving 16 Grammy Awards and having sold close to 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist.

“Jamaican artist Shaggy has been a major force in boosting the worldwide popularity of reggae and dancehall music, with hits such as Oh Carolina, Mr. Boombastic, It Wasn’t Me, and Angel. While they may seem to be an unlikely pair, Sting and Shaggy are actually a perfect musical match.

“An initial plan for Sting to contribute to a Shaggy song turned into Don’t Make Me Wait, their first single together. Compelled by their creative synergy, Sting and Shaggy decided to keep working together, resulting in their new collaborative, island-inspired album 44/876. This summer, Shaggy & Sting will embark on a European tour performing at various historical venues.

“Christina Aguilera is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter renowned for her powerful voice and hit songs. Throughout her career, she has sold more than 43 million records worldwide.

“Aguilera has achieved five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making her the fourth female artist to top the chart over three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s). She has won six Grammy Awards including one Latin Grammy Award.

“She has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and holds the prestigious honor of being the only artist under the age of 30 included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. In 2011 she entered the world of television as a coach on NBC’s Emmy Award nominated show The Voice.

“Aguilera continues to use her voice for good. She has served as global spokesperson for Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief effort since 2009 and has helped raise over $150 million for the World Food Program and other hunger relief agencies. Christina’s upcoming 6th studio album, Liberation, will be released on June 15th and is available for pre-order now.

“Although CeeLo Green is best known as a solo artist, many fans fondly remember when he broke through as half of the duo Gnarls Barkley; the other half being the famous producer Danger Mouse. Their song Crazy from 2006 made the soul duo’s name: the Grammy Award-winning mega hit has its own Wikipedia page which is longer than that of many artists!

“Although Gnarls Barkley never officially disbanded, their second and last album dates from ten years ago. Since then, with his unique high-pitched voice, CeeLo has proven himself as a solo artist as evidenced by the hit single Fuck You! (2010), which reached number one on the Dutch Top 40,” organizers of the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival said on Friday.

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Divorce may be looming: could KLM survive if it splits from Air France?

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Everyone involved in the problems besetting the airline alliance Air France KLM agrees with KLM chief Pieter Elbers that the strikes at Air France are ‘disastrous’ for the parent company.

The ongoing strikes have cost Air France €300m so far this year and last weekend French finance minster Bruno le Maire warned that Air France could not count on any French government support to keep it operational.

Now speculation is mounting about how to solve the problems at the now rudderless Franco-Dutch airline group. Having quit his post on 4 May, CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac has agreed to stay on until the group’s AGM on 15 May.

KLM is very much the junior partner in Air France KLM. Nevertheless the Dutch flag carrier has mainly peaceful labour relations and it generates the lion’s share of profit. In the 2018 first quarter KLM booked operating profit €32m higher at €60m.

Air France posted operating losses of €178m in the same period. Elbers has now told staff the ‘reputation, the finances and the internal solidarity are affected by the strikes.

Air France KLM has flown into serious turbulence,’ the Parool quoted him as saying. ‘I understand the problems this brings. I understand the anger. I have it too. And I understand the speculation over the future,’ Elbers told staff.

Independence?

Low cost carriers, those from the Gulf states, digitalisation, all these have resulted in sweeping and irreversible changes in the airline industry. It is an ongoing challenge for heritage carriers like KLM and Air France.’

This begs the question: would KLM be better off as an independent carrier? Trouw answers this with a resounding ‘no’. ‘With a very small home market KLM has little chance of becoming a big player.

In the long term, there is a big risk that KLM would have to cease operations,’ the paper says.

Merger

According to Trouw, despite all the mess afflicting the French partner, KLM is better off staying with Air France-KLM. The delays and cancellations of flights at Air France do not make KLM tickets less attractive and the way the 2004 ‘merger’ was structured the two airlines function largely as separate companies, Trouw pointed out.

KLM has been the dominant partner in Air France KLM for more than two years now, the Financieele Dagblad writes in its analysis on Wednesday. In 2017, KLM earned €910m before taxes and interest charges, while Air France could not go higher than €578m.

And the French airline is already in the red this year because of the strikes, the FD pointed out.

Split ownership

KLM has two owners, the paper says – the legal owner and the economic owner. Air France is the economic owner as it acquired the majority of KLM shares in 2004. The merger was in fact a takeover,’ the paper says.

But the aviation industry has its own laws and regulations, the most important of which are landing rights which are granted to countries, not to airlines. KLM can land in Japan, for example, because of an agreement between the Netherlands and Japan.

The true owner of KLM is three foundations set up to ensure the Dutch government holds 51% of the voting rights in KLM. Therefore the legal ownership of KLM is in Dutch hands and these are guaranteed by landing rights.

This is important because without landing rights, KLM is worth nothing, the FD claims. In principle, a Dutch party can buy back KLM’s economic ownership from Air France. But it would be more difficult for a non-Dutch buyer.

The legal ownership would remain in the Netherlands. Otherwise KLM’s landing rights would be negated.

Potential buyers

The FD said EasyJet, Delta Air Lines and China Eastern are possible non-Dutch buyers. British Airways and Lufthansa are eliminated by the paper as both would raise hackles with competition authorities.

The paper suggests also that KLM is best off staying in the Air France alliance. Bloomberg questions why the French pilots are striking for more pay when they are already well paid.

‘It also seems a bit rich for Air France staff to seek a raise because the KLM part of the business is more profitable. That performance gap has reinforced tensions between Air France and KLM since their 2004 merger, Bloomberg said. (DutchNews)

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CBS: Tourism in the Caribbean Netherlands down in 2017

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In 2017, inbound tourism on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba declined by 5, 5 and 9 percent respectively. Although the first eight months of 2017 were good for tourism, on Saba and St Eustatius this positive development was completely offset by Hurricane Irma. On Bonaire, the decline in inbound tourism compared to 2016 was likely due to operational problems of a regional airline.

Bonaire

In 2017, approximately 128.5 thousand tourists  arrived on Bonaire by air, down 5 percent on 2016. This was probably due to operational problems of a regional airline. The majority of foreign tourists were either Dutch or US nationals. On the other hand, cruise tourism to Bonaire grew by as much as 88 percent to 407 thousand passengers in 2017. Bonaire has done its best to attract more cruises to the island. Furthermore, the number of cruise passengers in the Caribbean as a whole went up in 2017.

St Eustatius

The first eight months of 2017 were good for inbound tourism on St Eustatius: 10 percent growth compared to the same period in 2016. This growth was completely undone by the arrival of Hurricane Irma in September, which deterred many tourists. November and December did bring some recovery. The number of air tourist arrivals on St Eustatius in 2017 dropped by 5 percent on 2016 to a total of 10.5 thousand. It should be taken into account that these figures also include business tourism. This means, for example, that civil servants and relief workers who do not live on St. Eustatius count as inbound tourists. With respect to the nationality of these inbound visitors, no major changes were observed in 2017.

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Saba

The first eight months of 2017 were good for inbound tourism on Saba: an increase of 5 percent in the number of arrivals compared to the same period in 2016. Although November and December showed a slight recovery, inbound tourism by air was ultimately down by 9 percent compared to 2016 to 8.4 thousand arrivals (including business travellers). As with the two other islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, there were no substantial shifts in the nationalities of tourists arriving by air. The number of passengers arriving on Saba by sea grew by 3 percent in 2017. Especially in December, many passengers arrived by boat or ferry.

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See: link to Methodology: : https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/artikelen/achtergrond/2015/14/toerisme-in-caribisch-nederland-2014/toerisme-caribisch-nederland-2012-2014>

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Man found shot to death in Cape Bay Tuesday night

CAPE BAY - On Tuesday May 8th at approximately 11.10 p.m. police patrols, detectives and Forensic Investigators were directed to Aaron Jacob Drive in Cape Bay in connection reports of a shooting and a lifeless body of a man been found with gunshot wounds to his body.

On the scene the investigating officers located the body of a man whose identity due to the investigation at this time will not be released. The man did not show any signs of life and had gunshot wounds to his body.

The scene was immediately closed off by the investigating officers and detectives were interviewing potential witnesses while the Forensic investigators collected evidence. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene by a medical doctor and the body was confiscated for further investigation.

At this time it is unclear why this shooting took place and who is responsible for this act. As the investigation continues and more information becomes available the media will informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Central Committee meeting of Parliament about establishing a sea border

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 9.

The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for 15.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is: a draft Kingdom Law change to establish the sea borders between Curacao and Bonaire; and between Sint Maarten and Saba.

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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