Feyenoord gaat in het nieuwe stadion, dat is gepland in het project Feyenoord City aan de Maas, naar een spelersbudget van minimaal 30 miljoen euro per jaar. Dat is het dubbele van het huidige budget. Dit blijkt uit het onafhankelijke[…]Read more...
Om Cruijffs nalatenschap en heldendom in ere te houden renden 6500 mensen op zijn 70ste verjaardag van het Olympisch Stadion naar de Amsterdam Arena. Fans. familie en vrienden zijn trots dat het stadion van Ajax wordt omgedoopt tot de Johan[…]Read more...
Opnieuw is een plan van president Donald Trump gedwarsboomd. Dit keer door districtsrechter William Orrick uit San Francisco. Hij blokkeerde dinsdag Trumps decreet over het financieel korten van zogenoemde ’sanctuary cities’. Dat zijn steden die weigeren mee te werken aan[…]Read more...
Komst FlyAllways Naar St. Maarten
De nieuwe Surinaamse luchtvaartmaatschappij, Fly All Ways, is van plan vanaf 3 september 2016 wekelijks vanaf Suriname via Georgetown, Guyana, naar St. Maarten te vliegen met een stop in Barbados. Deze wekelijkse vlucht zal met een Fokker 70 met 80 stoelen uitgevoerd worden. Deze eerste serie vluchten zal tot en met 2 oktober 2016 duren. De tweede serie vluchten zal wekelijks vanaf 15 december 2016 tot en met 15 januari 2017 uitgevoerd worden. Indien de bezetting en vraag vanuit de markt dat verantwoordt zal nadien elke week een vlucht vanuit Suriname via Guyana naar St. Maarten rechtstreeks uitgevoerd worden.
Gedurende de actieve vluchtcampagnes kunnen mensen vanaf St. Maarten naar Suriname en Guyana vliegen voor $680 US Dollars en naar Barbados voor slechs $450 US Dollars. Deze vluchen zal mensen die gewend zijn met LIAT, Caribbean Airlines en Inselair naar Guyana en Suriname te vliegen een goed alternattief bieden.
De mensen die deze vluchten van Fly All Ways willen boeken kunnen vanaf heden terecht bij reisbureau Let's Travel op St. Maarten in Philipburg om te reserveren. Men kan bellen via +1-721-542-2381, emailen via email@example.com of online boeken. Boek hier...
Richard Gibson Campaign Jingle
The upcoming elections to be held on St. Maarten on September 26th, 2016, will have a total of 9 parties vying for votes from the electorate. Of these nine political parties three are completely new parties. These newly established parties are HOPE, SDM and SMCP. The OSPP has been on the political scene since the last elections in August 2014, however, it did not manage to obtain any seats in that election. Although technically a new party for Country St. Maarten and relaunched as a foundation, the PPA existed previously as an association during the time St. Maarten was an Island Territory of the now defunct Netherlands Antilles. The last election the PPA participated in was during the January 2009 Federal elections for the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles after losing its only seat in the Island Council of St. Maarten during the island territory elections of 2007. The list of political parties participating in the 2016 elections is completed with the established parties that have seats in the present Parliament, namely NA, DP, UPP and USP.
The new parties presented many new candidates who will be running on their lists. The established parties have also presented many new candidates on their list. One candidate who surprised many with his last minute decision to run on the NA list is the present Minister of Finance, Richard Gibson Sr., who is now the number 8th candidate on the NA list. Richard Gibson is the only Minister of Finance to ever present a balanced budget for Country St. Maarten. This was done in 2016. Gibson hopes to continue the work he started in a next cabinet after presenting a balanced 2017 budget to Parliament in September during the opening the new Parliamentary Year. Other new faces on the NA list are Jimmy Challenger, Rene Violenus, Elvis Flanders and Robert Budike.
The most impressive list of candidates is that of USP with well-known and controversial politicians such as Silvio Matser, Maurice Lake, Romain Laville and Maria Buncamper-Molanus. Silvio Matser and Maurice Lake are presently members of Parliament. These two MPs had declared themselves Independent in 2015. This move led to a constitutional crisis which saw the Governor been placed in the awkward position of having to call for new elections in 2016 while allowing a new government to be formed, led by ministers appointed by the NA, USP and DP and headed by William Marlin as Prime Minister.
This election promises to be a crucial election for the future of St. Maarten as a country experiencing political instability since April 2012, plagued by yearly ship-jumping ever since and constantly having to deal with integrity issues. Not to mention the CFT breathing down the neck of the Minister of Finance to maintain a balanced budget and the Ministry of Justice battling issues on all fronts with a limited budget, an understaffed force, a problematic prison and all while in and out of courts dealing with cases regarding personnel and division heads. St. Maarten needs political stability now more than ever. If the number of political parties competing in the upcoming elections is any indication, it may take St. Maarten a while before any kind of political stability is achieved after the outcome of the September 2016 elections. It is up to the electorate to determine whether St. Maarten gets another coalition government or a one-party majority-led government.
Facts, Figures & Legends
NA - National Alliance
DP - Democratic Party
UPP - United People's Party
USP - United St. Maarten Party
OSPP - One St. Maarten People Party
PPA - Peoples Progressive Alliance (*** Relaunched with CPA joining ***) 1
HOPE - Helping Our People Excel (*** NEW ***) 2
SMCP - St. Maarten Christian Party (*** NEW ***)
SDM - St. Maarten Development Movement (*** NEW ***)
Seat Assignments After 2014 Elections:
USP 2 seats
NA 4 seats
UPP 7 seats
DP 2 seats
USP made a good showing in the last elections in 2014 as a new party under party leader, Frans Richardson, and managed to obtain 2 seats, which went to Frans Richardson and Leona Marlin-Romeo as the two highest vote getters. However, Leona Marlin-Romeo declared herself Independent shortly after the elections after a joint press conference with Frans Richardson wherein she declared not to have any plans to ever jump ship.
DP won 2 seats in Parliament in the last elections in 2014, but now only has one Member of Parliament, namely Sarah Wescot Williams, who is also the present President of Parliament. The other DP Member of Parliament was Cornelius De Weever who went Independent during the NA-DP-USP formation talks and aligned himself with the UP party, who had won 7 seats, giving them an 8 seats majority in the Parliament of St. Maarten, thereby allowing them to form a new government with the support of Member of Parliament, Leona Marlin-Romeo.
NA won 4 seats and had to content itself quietly with the role of opposition party in Parliament with lone USP MP, Frans Richardson, who was content to play the role of champion of the opposition. The NA was bowled out of the NA-DP-UP formation talks by the surprising move of Cornelius De Weever who declared his support for an UP-led government and disappeared off the island afterwards. All changed when MP Maurice Lake resigned from the UP party in 2015. He was quickly followed by MP Silvio Matser, who felt unsupported, disillusioned and isolated by the UP party leadership and membership.
Stay tuned for more election analysis from StMaartenNews.net...
1. Concordia Political Alliance (CPA), led by Jeffrey Richardson, which last participated in the 2010 elections, has now joined the PPA with Jeffrey Richardson as the number 3 candidate on the list.
2. Social Reform Party (SRP), led by former NA candidate Jacinto Mock, who last participated for the first time as a one-man party in the 2014 elections, has now joined the HOPE party as the third of three candidates together with Mercedes Wyatt and Loekie Morales.
A lot has been debatted and written about the Kingdom government's instruction to the Governor of St. Maarten, basically compelling him to suspend the approval of the national decrees appointing the Ministers and the Prime Minister util an enhanced screening is executed. This latest instruction was recently preceded by another; in September 2013, instructing the Governor to conduct an integrity assessment (the now infamous Price Waterhouse Report). In fact, this most recent instruction is a direct result of the aforementioned report.
What prompted the first instruction? Since St. Maarten became a country on October 10, 2010, it has been entangled in numerous (political) scandals (e.g. La Ville bribe, Bada-Bing/Illidge video and the vote buying case just to mention the headliners), in addition we have had 3 cabinets in 4 years (Cabinet Wescott-Williams I, II and III).
It is therefore safe to conclude that The Hague took a keen note of these events andd decided to undertake some severe action. It should also be noted that even before St. Maarten became a seperate country within the Kingdom there were serious doubts if St. Maarten should or could become a country. They started by saying that there will be no seperate status for St. Maarten (i.e. former MInister of Kingdom Relations Johan Remkes declaring that the door for seperate status, yes, but not like Aruba and then our leaders eventually agreed to the watered down seperate status that we 'enjoy' today.
Many legal scholars will agree that the Kingdom government has no legal basis for the instruction. This has already been concluded by Mr. G.A.H. Bakhuis of the Erasmus School of Law in an article in the 'Nederlands Juristenblad' (NJB) regarding the instruction of September 2013.
Mr Bakhuis wrote: "Good governance and integrity of government officials and civil servants continue to be a problem for the country Sint Maarten. The Kingdom government relies in this instruction on its guarantee function laid down in the Kingdom Charter, but for the exercise of supervision more is required than a description in the Statute. Fulfilment of that task can only be guaranteed by legally established supervisory powers. The Governor in the execution of the instruction does not possess these powers. The exercise of the supervisory powers without legal basis is an infringement of the "legaliteitsbeginsel" (Principle of Legality), which means that powers cannot be exercised without any legal basis. This naturally also applies to the Kingdom government".
In spite of these legal opinions and St. Maarten's objections, The Hague has remained resolute. Not only was the integrity assessment carried out, now that same integrity assessment is being utilized as the basis for an even more invasive instruction. Obviously this is their new modus-operandi in terms of the relations with the Dutch Caribbean territories. Our leaders must become aware of this new reality, as long as St. Maarten remains a country within the Kingdom, which is for the foreseeable future, and act accordingly. It can no longer be business as usual. We cannot continue to disregard the rules and when we are called to order, engage in emotional diatribes about slavery and past Dutch indiscretions in Indonesia and Suriname. While these may be historically accurate and important facts they are not actually relevant and do not positively contribute to the discussion at hand.
It is a fact that there is no legal basis for the Kingdom government instructions, however it is also true that the past four years, in terms of governance, hasb een far from ideal, to put it mildly. Yes, we are a young country that is only four years old, but that cannot and should not be an excuse for the less than integer behavior of our leaders. Let us be honest, with their actions our leaders have significantly contributed in having the Dutch the proverbial stick to beat us with. The vote buying aka 'Masbangu' and the Vorst property court judgements are obvious examples of such and are scathing indictments of our leaders. In the next four years and beyond our leaders must elevate their game. Let us display that we are a country, not only by name and bravado, but moreover by our actions, policies and intellect. A stable and competent government must be formed, the notorious ship-jumping must be halted, a realistic and balanced budget must be passed consistently by Parliament, prior to the deadline, and most importantly we must start to hold our leaders accountable for better or worse.
[Editor's note: The above opinion piece "Chess not checkers" by Randolf Duggins is taken from the Today newspaper on Monday, October 27, 2014. The cartoon is provided by StMaartenNews.net.]
Of the more than 19,000 Dutch nationals living in St. Maarten only 178 have the opportunity to play their part in guiding the future of the European Union (EU) by voting in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections. Dutch nationals, living in St. Maarten, had to register before April 10, 2014, to be able to cast a vote.
Policy Advisor attached to the Office of the Dutch Representation in St. Maarten, Bianca van der Lee, said although disappointed by the level of interest in this elections, the process is running smoothly for the persons who are registered. She said there is a constant flow of people dropping in to cast their votes. Registered persons have until May 22, 3:00pm to vote at the office of the Dutch Representation on Front Street # 26.
St. Maarten's President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell was among the first to cast her vote on Tuesday, "I call on all citizens, who registered up until April 10, to exercise their democratic right to vote between now and May 22. I made use of this right this afternoon and voted for the candidate of my choice. Not too long ago, not everyone could vote, including women. To date there are millions of people around the world who still cannot or are not allowed to freely vote for the party or candidate of their choice.”
Initiatives such as an information session at the University of St. Martin and an appeal by several political leaders were carried out in St. Maarten to improve the level of interest in the 2014 EU elections. But efforts proved futile. There was a very poor turnout at the information session and ultimately only 178 persons registered to vote.
Van der Lee said it is not the responsibility of her office to drum up support for the elections, however because there is an agreement to use their office facilities, there was an extra effort to get a strong support from Dutch nationals living in St. Maarten.
Brussels and the candidates are responsible for motivating voters, however EU candidates provided no broad-base public information about their platform to the St. Maarten public. The Netherlands has 26 seats in the EU parliament. As of 2009, Dutch nationals living in the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are able to vote in these elections. The fact that St. Maarten seems so far from the EU, has influenced a negative turn-out in this elections as some potential voters feel there is not much influence for policy that affect the daily lives of the people of St. Maarten.
The European elections give voters the chance to influence the future political course of the EU when they elect the 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent their interests for the next five years.
There have been 766 Members of the European Parliament since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 but this number is being scaled down at the 2014 elections to 751 and will stay at that level in future. These MEPs will represent over 500 million citizens in 28 member states. The seats are allocated among the various states, by the EU treaties, on the basis of 'digressive proportionality', meaning countries with larger populations have more seats than smaller ones but the latter have more seats than strict proportionality would imply.
The new political majority that emerges from this elections will shape European legislation over the next five years especially in areas from the single market to civil liberties. The Parliament - the only directly elected EU institution - is now a linchpin of the European decision-making system and has an equal say with national governments on nearly all EU laws.
Of interest to St. Maarten is the European Union's long-term spending budget which has to be approved by national governments and MEPs, then each year the two sides decide together how the annual budget will be spent. Policies such as agriculture, regional development, energy, transport, the environment, development aid and scientific research all receive EU funding. Parliament is also responsible for checking later if the taxpayer's money has been used as intended and for signing off on the accounts if it is satisfied.
Country St. Maarten has shown a positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the past years, but yet the tax receipts reflects a stable to flat tax compliance rate. Something must be direly wrong with the math. This, therefore, begs the question: Who is not paying their fair share of required taxes?
Let us rule out the minimum wage earners and the middle income earners. They are mostly staff workers with companies whose tax contributions and social premiums are (mostly) automatically deducted from their salaries. Small and medium entrepreneurs tend to adhere to good business practices and tend to be good corporate citizens who will pay up their Wage Tax, Turnover Tax and Profit Tax.
So, who or which entities are holding out on St. Maarten? This question kept going through the minds of attendees at a recent lecture at the University of St. Martin (USM), at which Chairman of the Board for Financial Supervision (College Financieel Toezicht), Age Bakker spoke about “Sound Public Finances” in the context of a solid foundation for sustainable growth in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom.
Bakker said, “St. Maarten is an interesting country within the Kingdom. Economically speaking, St. Maarten has performed very well over the past decade.”
In recent years, our country has shown steady, albeit modest economic growth in the range of 1 to 1.5 per cent. St. Maarten’s budgetary problems are much smaller than those of Curaçao, The Netherlands or Aruba. He attributed St. Maarten's growth to the fact that the country boasts a far younger population, well-capitalized social funds and healthy government-owned companies. Government debt at around 30 per cent of GDP is relatively low and there is a credible exchange rate linked with the US dollar.
Up to this point, the story is good.
St. Maarten's Achilles' heel appears to be that while the country is doing well, its government is characterized by weak finances that have made it even more difficult for government to provide the level of public services to match with the aspiration levels of the population.
Of particular concern is the apparent failure to enforce tax compliance that would raise additional tax revenues without the burden of an across-the-board tax hike for all good and consistent tax payers.
Bakker said, “Tax revenues in the recent period have been basically flat, if not declining. Tax revenues were NAf. 411 million in 2011, 416 million in 2012 and are expected to be in the order of NAf. 405 million in 2013. As St. Maarten has not been able to borrow for investment since past budgets were not drawn up in accordance with the Kingdom laws, the liquidity position of the government has shown steady deterioration to the point that something needs to be done.”
Over the three-year period (2011-2013), the cumulative growth of nominal GDP, that is the sum of real economic growth and price inflation, has been close to 13 per cent. However, over the same period, tax revenues remained stable. If tax revenue collection kept pace with the nominal GDP growth there would have been additional fiscal availability of NAf. 55 million.
Why does it seem like our Tax Department is not going after that NAf. 55 million? The man in the street and even some business owners will be quick to say: “Stop coming after the small man or the regular taxpayers, set your sights on the big evaders’.
In fairness to the Tax Department, there has been talk of a revamped tax system to be implemented sometime soon. So let us hope this system works in a fair manner. Bakker is of the opinion that, for the government to be able to provide the basic services to the population, it is imperative to increase the tax base and improve tax compliance. In doing so, it is important that the strongest shoulders bear the heaviest burden. From the perspective of the ordinary folk, the perception exists that the rich folks are dodging their tax responsibilities.
Call for Certificate of Tax Compliance
Some learned business sources have suggested that an independent auditing body should be set up in St. Maarten to access businesses and give them a certificate of tax compliance. Like an ISO-9001 certificate. Or a certificate of good behaviour in the area of tax compliance. Of course, this would be completely on a voluntary basis, but if one business has a Certificate of Tax Compliance - issued by a certification agency or bureau - and another business doesn't, the community population can easily draw their own conclusions.
The tax inspectorate is legally not allowed to give out information about who is paying their taxes, or not, as they are bound by confidentiality rules, so the non-tax-payers are getting away “blame-free” for this deteriorating situation. An independent agency, that has the permission of a company to come in and audit their books to certify if they are tax compliant and issue a tax compliance certificate, would have the freedom to make a public statement as to the tax compliant nature of any participating business. That would be the first step in increasing the tax compliance rate on St. Maarten, especially in the business sector where the most money is being generated in the island's economy.
Iedereen weet wat een stichting is. Weinigen kunnen het je vertellen. Juridisch gezien is een stichting een afgescheiden vermogen. Feitelijk is het een bolwerk, een moeilijk van buiten doordringbare constructie. Een stichting heeft per definitie geen leden. Een stichting heeft per definitie geen aandeelhouder. Een stichting heeft wel een bestuur en het bestuur is de baas. In veel gevallen bepaalt ... Read more>>>
The word “commonwealth” is again been thrown around as an alternative to the current constitutional set up of the Dutch Kingdom, which comprises the Netherlands and the Caribbean parts: St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Let us pause and examine the meaning of “commonwealth.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a “Body politic founded on law for the common weal or good. The term was often used by 17th century writers to signify an organized political community, its meaning thus being similar to the modern meaning of state or nation.”
Puerto Rico has been a commonwealth, rather than a state of the United States of America since 1952. Its residents, though U.S. citizens, have only a nonvoting representative in Congress and pay no federal taxes.
To break it down in further, it means a political community founded for the common good of all involved.
When St. Maarten Justice Minister Dennis Richardson stood up at a debate in the Netherlands with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk and Caribbean History Professor Gert Oostindie and said a commonwealth construction is not “a strange thought” he was obviously using his strong command of English to say that in any partnership there needs to be room to evolve.
Minister Plasterk was apparently quick to warn that the commonwealth process was not without risks as the Netherlands could, at some point in the future, say that it would let go of St. Maarten. That meaning the Netherlands sees an independent St. Maarten down the road.
The “them and us” sensitivities that have developed in the Dutch Kingdom through the radicalization of some of the political players, especially the European part of the kingdom with what seems to be xenophobic ideological, do not bode well for any sort of commonwealth or common goal for bettering the Dutch Kingdom.
A level headed response came from Prof. Oostindie. He said the entire issue of independence or commonwealth status is not reflective of what the people on the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles demanded via two referenda.
What is clear in both Dutch and English is that change has to come in the way partners in the kingdom treat each other and the tenet of true equality of all seven kingdom partners must shine through.
In spite of St. Maarten Justice Minister’s comments about the commonwealth, the country’s Prime Minister, Sarah Wescot-Williams, has stated that her government still has not yet discussed this particular approach. Her sights are set on the upcoming evaluation of the current constitutional set up of the Dutch Kingdom.
This newest kingdom set up, established on October 20, 2010 (10-10-10), took decades to become a reality. An evaluation of its workings is set for 2015. With that time coming closer, the time is now for political leaders throughout the kingdom to start thinking of better ways to make the Dutch Kingdom work for the “common good” and “common wealth (read prosperity)” of all residents of the Dutch Kingdom.
Jacob Gelt Dekker wrote an interesting column about what Curacao needed to improve its economy immediately. Contrary to Curacao, eventhough both islands share a joint central bank, St. Maarten does not have much export products that can generate foreign currency revenues – dollars, euro’s, francs, yens, yuans, etc. – because all we have basically is sea, sun and sand and that has generated enough tourism dollars over the years to sustain our island’s one pillar economy.
But what about the future? How can we enhance our tourism economy to make it sustainable and give it longevity? The Today newspaper has been featuring some small business entrepreneurs on St. Maarten that make their own little contributions in stimulating our island’s economy, like the gentleman that makes his own cigars and sell them at the cruise terminal. We need more of that, no matter how small.
Even the internet offers us a lot of great opportunities to generate a positive cash influx of foreign currency into the island’s economy. Especially for the young people, the internet and ecommerce can offer them great opportunities, not only for stimulating the island’s economy and alleviating its job market, but also offer young people themselves great opportunities to become rich as well. I read about a young kid in England, 14 years old, who developed an app that made him the youngest self-made millionaire ever.
Why can’t a young kid right here in St. Maarten do that as well? What’s to hold them back from doing the same? All that is required is ingenuity, creativity and lots of perspiration, meaning lots of hard work. I say hard work because I don’t want them to think that it will be easy. Other people make it look easy, but it isn’t really. You’ve got to clock in the hours. Who is prepared to clock in the hours?
Who is prepared to clock in overtime to stimulate St. Maarten’s economy with new products and services that can be ‘exported’ and used to generate a nett inflow of foreign currency into the island’s economy? Remember, this is the kind of overtime where you don’t get 50% or 100% overtime pay, but you get 100000% or more in income if you do a great job. I am quite sure there is an app that can do that. So I ask again: WHO IS PREPARED TO CLOCK IN OVERTIME TO IMPROVE ST. MAARTEN’S ECONOMY?
Apart from some sweltering days of summer, the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season proved to be an easy, sometimes a little breezy one. The annual season officially ended with the fewest number of storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean since 1982.
St. Maarten/St. Martin counts itself lucky and appreciative that it was spared the rigors of being touched by one of the 13 named storms formed between June and November 2013. There is even more thankfulness that the island was spared the wrath of storms Ingrid and Humberto, which developed into hurricanes, though not major ones.
As the island enjoy much welcomed wintery after hurricane season breezes, it serves us well to reflect of the suffering of our fellow human beings in the Pacific side who have had to endure the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan (called Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines).
As it seems, many are sitting on the fence as it relates to dollarizing the St. Maarten economy. The Social Economic Council (SER) has taken a strong position calling for “immediate steps” to be taken for an orderly transition to the circulation of the United States Dollar (USD) as the official currency in St. Maarten. The Dutch Caribbean Country St. Maarten currently uses the Netherlands Antilles Guilder (ANG) as its official currency.
The reluctance in some sectors in the community to take an active stance baffles outsiders, who ask why the business community isn’t demanding this change. Even after SER released their follow-up advice on dollarization there is still deafening silence from in the country.
St. Maarten Government, via a new policy of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication, has extended the business opening hours for service providing businesses such as supermarkets, barber shops, beauty supply stores and gas stations for a period of one year.
All supermarkets, beauty supply stores (wholesale and retail), hair salons, and barber shops have been are granted an exemption and extended opening hours until 11:00pm for all days of the week (including Sunday) for a period of one (1) year.
Talking to businesspersons in St. Maarten you initially get the complaint mode that most of everything is bad. But delve a little deeper and you will uncover a complex explanation that leaves any newcomers wondering what makes St. Maarten the place “to be”.
The majority of the country’s well oiled businesses are making money and this can be attributed to the fact that there is a sense of global recovery. This year’s “slow season” is being described as better than last year’s…a good sign for the layman trying to gauge if St. Maarten is in recovery mode.
This “good sign” brings high hopes for the people of St. Maarten even as speculations swirl and a congregation of businesspersons debate the impact the American government shutdown and the debacle over the raising of the US debt ceiling.