Grid List

PHILIPSBURG--Co-founder of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) Bevil Wooding said there has to be a deeper pool of human resources in the Caribbean with technical expertise.

PHILIPSBURG—St. Maarten Harbour Holding (SMH) lost its Administrative Justice LAR case against the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning. Environment and Infrastructure VROMI regarding the permit issued for the Dock Maarten’s marina expansion in Great Bay.

  The government-owned company has six weeks to appeal the October 24 ruling. It first filed the legal procedure on January 28 and added to the petition on February 26, after which the ministry reacted on April 28 and Dock Maarten as third interested party gave its input on August 9.

  The case was heard on August 22. The port claimed that the project undermined its exclusive 30-year-concession to manage the harbour at a fee of 5.2 million guilders per year and infringed upon the related Master Plan.

  On October 19, 2015 an injunction filed by SMH against the permit for a breakwater issued in July 2014 had been dismissed by the court.

  In the most recent ruling the judge did recognise the plaintiff as an interested party when issuing the permit but saw no proof of an evident detrimental impact of the contested project on those interests including the economic aspects mentioned. That question must be answered in a regular civil case rather than a LAR-procedure.

  Moreover, the Master Plan is just a plan, so there is no telling if the breakwater extension will indeed be a nuisance for surroundings in the future and the current situation must be the basis for decision-making. Possible environmental effects are also not among the legal reasons mentioned in article 22 of the Building and Housing Ordinance for a conditional permit or a partial/complete refusal.

  SMH had also pointed out that there are two versions of a new Arcadis impact study required for the permit as the first one did not exclude effects on the marine environment, so an addition was made in the second one used in the request. Dock Maarten acknowledged the existence of two reports, but said the addition was in line with the content and did not diminish its value.

  The judge did find the argument that the harbour company should have been consulted in the decision-making process “not without grounds,” especially since the VROMI-minister by letter of September 14, 2015 had promised to do so “before any lease rights, long lease rights, building permits or building exemptions are granted in the future by or with involvement of the ministry as far as they relate to the concession area.”

  However, this alone is no reason annul the contested decision and SMH’s petition was declared unfounded.



The news coming out of Miami where Prime Minister William Marlin is attending the 18th annual International Shared Ownership Investment Conference has been pretty encouraging (see related stories). Interval said St. Maarten has the greatest new sales volumes of the region, due in part to more “mixed use development.”

Local resorts have been renovating and upgrading too, which obviously tends to improve the product. Timeshare reportedly accounts for 75 per cent of the Dutch side’s stay-over tourism, with 3,600 units compared to 1,500 hotel rooms, also due to higher occupancy rates and longer average stays.

Efforts to regulate the sector were welcomed, although the legislation for such is still pending. The latter clearly ought to be a priority of both the incoming Parliament and Government, to prevent more undesirable situations that could have a very negative impact on the reputation of not just properties involved but the entire island.

One aspect that needs to be considered as well is the so-called Airbnb phenomenon, whereby visitors can directly rent private homes or apartments for their vacations at a usually lower cost. Many holiday destinations have increasingly been faced with this “sharing economy” competition for their traditional hospitality industry that is often considered unfair because sufficient taxes aren’t paid, etc.

Countries and individual cities are therefore placing restrictions on the practice and taking measures to ensure compliance with fiscal and other laws. “The Friendly Island” should not waste another moment to seriously look into this matter on either side of the open border, before possibly irreparable damage is already done.

There’s an interesting story in today’s paper on a speech by Council of State Vice-President Piet-Hein Donner. His assertion that one should ask not what good the Kingdom does, but rather for what it can be used makes all the sense in the world.

Too often the focus is on problems in the relationship between the coloniser and its former colonies, rather than possible benefits. If one looks at, for example, the historically strong ties of the Netherlands with the United States, the Dutch Caribbean plays a key role.

By calling separation “the easy way out,” the former Minister of – among other things – Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations hit the proverbial nail on the head. It’s not only about less or greater autonomy, but about making better use of modern-day opportunities the current constitutional structure offers.

When it comes to the term “Unity in Diversity” a lot of emphasis is placed on the latter and very little on the former, or what actually binds the kingdom countries. These common values are fundamental and must be guarded, which to a certain extent can indeed mean involvement with and in each other’s affairs.

Of course, the traffic is in practice often one-way from The Hague to Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten, due to the vast difference in scale and because the Kingdom Council of Ministers is dominated by the Dutch Cabinet. That’s why a Dispute Regulation remains very important.

Donner’s arguments in any case show that not all persons of authority in the Netherlands see the islands as just a costly nuisance to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible, even though populist politicians there obviously tend to score well with such a simplistic and to a large degree inaccurate message. In reality there is considerably more to being part of the Kingdom than meets the eye and it’s high time this be publicly acknowledged on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--An assessment conducted by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), together with the Haitian Government and its National Coordination for Food Security CNSA, has determined that in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, some 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, 800,000 of whom are in a dire situation.

BOGOTA, Colombia--Colombia’s Avianca airline was avoiding Venezuelan airspace after a flight from Spain was approached by at least one warplane on Friday, creating a diplomatic incident, according to flight data, an airline source and authorities.

DETROIT-- Investors dumped General Motors Co shares on Tuesday despite record third-quarter results, highlighting the disconnect between Detroit and Wall Street as the long U.S. vehicle sales boom cools off.

 CAIRO-- Egypt has seized 9,000 tonnes of sugar in recent raids on factories and warehouses, the prime minister said on Monday, describing the move as necessary to deal with a shortage of the commodity.
  Sugar has all but vanished from supermarkets, prompting media talk of a crisis and pushing the state to rapidly increase imports despite an acute dollar shortage and soaring global prices of the sweetener.
  Egyptian authorities have raided sugar factories and distributors in recent days as they blamed traders and suppliers for hoarding and smuggling supplies.
  Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told Egypt's CBC channel in an interview that the raids have had a "positive impact" and sugar stocks were enough to cover the country for three months.
  "There are some negative points that we are dealing with but they were a limited number of cases," he said. "We can't leave the market without supervision. ... Monitoring is necessary."
  Edita Food Industries, Egypt's maker of Twinkies, said on Monday its sweet factory in Beni Suef had been shut for three days after authorities seized its sugar.
  Edita said it was holding normal levels of sugar stocks obtained legally from the private sector and not the black market, which the government is trying to dry up through the ongoing raids.
  Egypt consumes around 3 million tonnes of sugar annually but produces just over 2 million tonnes. The gap is filled by imports, usually between July and October when local beet and sugar cane supplies have wound down.

LONDON-- Paul Beatty was on Tuesday named as the first American to win the prestigious Man Booker fiction prize, for "The Sellout", a biting satire on race relations in the United States.

LOS ANGELES- - Veteran social activist and politician Tom Hayden, a stalwart of America's New Left who served nearly two decades as a California state lawmaker and gained a dash of Hollywood glamour with his marriage to movie star Jane Fonda, has died after a lengthy illness. He was 76.

NEW YORK,-- Trailing in opinion polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has asked his campaign to cut back on work identifying candidates for key jobs in his would-be administration and focus instead on bolstering his chances on Election Day, according to two people familiar with the campaign's inner workings.

MANCHESTER, N.H./ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., - - U .S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed rival Donald Trump on Monday for saying that the week-old effort to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the control of Islamic State was going badly.
  "He's basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started," Clinton said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. "He's proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief."
  In a tweet on Sunday, Trump, the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, said the "attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb."
  Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by the United States, have mounted a huge assault on the area surrounding the city, the last stronghold of Islamic State forces in Iraq. They have retaken about 80 Islamic State-held villages and towns since the offensive was launched on Oct. 16, but have yet to move on the city itself.
  Trump reiterated his position during a rally on Monday in St. Augustine, Florida, where he also urged supporters to vote early and declared his campaign ahead of Clinton's.
  "So now we're bogged down in Mosul. The enemy is much tougher than they thought. They've had a lot of time to get ready," Trump said. "It's a horrible, horrible situation that's going on. Why did we have to tell them we're going in?"
  The operation could last weeks, or even months. Islamic State on Monday mounted counterattacks across the country against the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces, trying to deflect attention away from the Mosul campaign.
  Trump suggested last week during the final 2016 presidential debate that the U.S.-backed attack on Mosul was orchestrated to help Clinton in her White House bid.
  With just over two weeks to go until the U.S. election, Clinton, President Barack Obama's first-term secretary of state, is ahead of the New York businessman in national opinion polls. Both candidates have been focusing on a small set of political swing states that could decide the contest.
  Seeking to cement a wide advantage she holds with women voters, Clinton enlisted the help of firebrand U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who blasted Trump over allegations that he tried to grope or kiss several women without their consent over a 20-year span.
  "He thinks because he has a mouthful of Tic Tacs that he can force himself on any women within groping distance," Warren told a raucous crowd of 4,000 at St. Anselm College in Manchester. "Well, I've got news for you, Donald Trump. Women have had it with guys like you."
  At least 10 women have said Trump made unwanted sexual advances, including groping or kissing, in incidents from the early 1980s to 2007, according to reports in various news outlets. Trump has denied the women's allegations, calling them "totally and absolutely false" and promising on Saturday that he would sue his accusers.
  Warren's mention of Tic Tac mint candies referred to a moment in a 2005 video that surfaced earlier this month in which Trump was heard boasting about groping and kissing women.
  Warren also referenced Trump calling Clinton "a nasty woman" at last week's debate, a phrase that quickly caught fire on social media, sparking hashtags and T-shirts.
  "Get this, Donald, nasty women are tough," Warren said. "Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. And on Nov. 8 we nasty women are gonna march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever."
  Clinton praised Warren for taking the fight to Trump. "She gets under his (Trump's) thin skin like nobody else," the candidate said.
  At an event for farmers in Boynton Beach, Florida, earlier in the day, Trump disputed multiple national and state polls that show him lagging Clinton and accused the media of distorting poll results to discourage his supporters from voting.
  "I believe we're actually winning," Trump said.
  Just the day before, Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that the candidate was trailing in the race, saying in a TV interview, "We are behind."
  According to the Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project, which surveys the vote in battleground states, Clinton leads Trump in most of the states that Trump would need to win to have a chance of amassing the minimum 270 Electoral College votes needed to capture the White House.
  According to the survey, she had a better than 95 percent chance of winning, had the election been held last week. The mostly likely outcome would be 326 votes for Clinton to 212 for Trump. The Electoral College votes represent a tally of wins from the states.

BRUSSELS-- NATO will press allies on Wednesday to contribute to its biggest military build-up on Russia's borders since the Cold War as the alliance prepares for a protracted quarrel with Moscow.

MANILA-- Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte ended a recent speech in Manila with a now-familiar claim: Two policemen were dying every day in his violent battle to rid the country of illegal drugs.

MIDDLE REGION--Team St. Maarten won 14 gold medals, 11 silver and six bronze medals at the 11th International Tae kwon do Championship in Santo Domingo this past weekend.

Cincinnati Reds scout  James Stoekel was on St. Maarten to conduct baseball try outs of young athletes age 15 and up at John Cooper Jose Lake Sr. Ballpark Tuesday. 

~Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behaviour does ~ Unknown

Dear Editor,

Permit me the opportunity to provide a response to the commissioner’s statement and her characterization of me. While it is true that empty vessels make the most noise, that noise is loud enough to resonate far and wide to be heard by my people, and respond to the call for help from our beloved Statia. It is those same empty vessels that remain so, because they would like to be filled with information coming from government. The queries that have now arisen were irrelevant during the governing period, because the finances were critical and higher supervision was not in place.

With my present involvement in government, the United People’s Coalition Party (UPC) is requesting on behalf of the people of the island territory of St. Eustatius for this government to stop finding excuses, pointing fingers, playing hide and seek with the business of the people, and explain the actual situation of the government’s current situation. The Commissioner promptly responded with quite an extensive article, yet throughout that article, the commissioner somehow eluded every question that was asked and failed to provide any information whatsoever.

During the governing period as previously mentioned, the purchase of the AFAS was already in progress and supported by the independent member of this coalition, who was also a member of two previous governments that commenced the process of purchasing this program. Thus the question is asked; if the independent member supported the process then, what has changed now? Please be advised that my involvement in the island council representing the aforementioned, and my connection with UPC resulted in questions raised pertaining to the abovementioned.

The questions that are now being asked are attributed to the promises made to the people during the election campaigns, which to a certain degree, entailed rectifying certain situations in government that proved to be problematic, that would ultimately lead to the peoples’ devotion by means of votes, and resulting not favourably for the financial status of the island. Furthermore, in the governing period of 2013-2015 no higher supervision was placed. The UPC cannot answer any questions, as they are no longer in government, which is why the questions are being asked to those who are in the position to fill the empty vessels of the people.

I have never been the type of individual to bite my tongue, or favour the game “Simon Says” for the simple fact that I refuse to blindly follow instructions without applying critical analysis to the situation, and forming hypothesis that will ultimately lead me to conclude if my actions will be in the best interest of the people. The public is well apprised of my stance and opinions of the current government, even with my own party’s partial formation of the aforementioned.

I reiterate, requesting the truth isn’t for me but for the people of this island. While they choose to remain silent, the pertinent matter at hand is the filling of their vessels with the much-needed information.

While the UPC would hope for a working relationship where assistance can be given, how are we expected to offer any assistance when the communicative avenues were consistently blocked? In such a case, the UPC would then have made strategic decisions that resulted in the sole benefit of the community; which leads to another mass of questions, such as:

1. What has become of the bi-weekly press conference, which proved to be an effective medium to keep the public informed? My observance has made me realize the decline is this method since the sitting of the newly-appointed commissioner.

2. UPC would like the government to explain that if the constant cry to the people is that their hands are tied behind their backs (blaming the Netherlands), how was it possible to orchestrate convenient hiring and payment?

3. There will again be a town hall meeting on Thursday, October 27, where information will be shared with the public as to the financial situation on the island, again without this information first going through the proper procedures, such as discussed in the executive council, technical debate in the central committee and sanctioned in the island council. Is this another stunt of throwing sand in the eyes of the people?

4. Despite the vague reaction of the commissioner of telecommunication, the UPC would still like the community to be explained why the entire Eutel board was asked to resign, and how does that contribute towards continuation?

5. Deadline for submitting the 2017 budget is scheduled for November 15, however, two weeks prior to submission it should be made available for viewing by the general public. If this isn’t the case, a budget will be drafted by Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) and sent to the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) for approval of its contents, which includes the basic needs for the island, such as salaries. UPC would like the public to be explained the state of readiness with regard to the 2015 financial reports, the 2016 quarterly reports, budget amendments which all have effect on the realistic drafting of the 2017 budget.

6. We would like the people to be explained why the luggage screening machine has been out of operation for such a long time, and what is being done to remedy the situation in terms of repair or replacement.

7. We would like the public the be explained what was the role of Mr. Blackman as part of the delegation that recently travelled to the Netherlands for talks with KPN while the commissioner in charge travelled with his advisor, subsequently who paid for his cost?

8. UPC would like the people to be explained when the airport bar will be re-opened to travellers and in extension the general public.

9. UPC would like the people to be explained why the commissioner of tourism was absent at the recent tourism/business expo that took place in Fort Lauderdale, where he was registered and was expected to give a presentation?

10. UPC would like the people to be explained how they are prioritizing the flexibility given by the Netherlands in making appointments with the sole goal to contribute positively towards the progress of the process, which is executing the action plan towards improving both financial and administrative situation of the island government.

As much as the coalition government is criticizing the Netherlands, they still appear to get away with murder. UPC is of the opinion that BZK should have erected a higher degree of penalties against the coalition government for misusing the flexibility given to them, rather than a mere slap on the wrists in the form of a flimsy warning letter. It is clear that this isn’t the first time, and thus, the UPC is requesting Plasterk to explain to the public how long they will be tolerating this type of behaviour.

The genie hen brings genie cock stories can and should no longer be accepted by the people. I’m again pleading to the people to let your voices be heard; this level of governing is unacceptable. It is your God-given right to demand proper, honest and quality accountability.

There are so many important issues to be decided on, but this coalition government seems to be hand picking to reach the campaign promises made. This isn’t proper governing. UPC is requesting the present government to come clean with the general public. We are willing to help/assist as long as the government is willing to listen and take advice. We are open, because Statia belongs to us all, and we all are responsible for the well-being of our people.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Elvin Henriquez

Dear Queenie,

My brothers and sisters and I are trying to plan a surprise party for our father who is about to turn 80. The problem is that we can’t agree on what kind of party to give him. Everyone has a different idea – night out at a restaurant, picnic on the beach, barbecue in someone’s back yard (but whose yard?) and so on.

Queenie, how do we decide before there is a major family feud?—Baffled

Dear Baffled,

Forget about the “surprise” party and ask your father what kind of bash he would prefer. After all, it is his birthday, so give him the kind of party he wants (if any!) rather than what you would like him to have.

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