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PHILIPSBURG--The Prosecutor’s Office has decided to repeal the appeal filed against a second suspect in the Buncamper case.

PHILIPSBURG--A 2.5 per cent “real estate” tax and the levying of a flat ten per cent income tax are proposed by People’s Progressive Party (PPA), headed by former Member of Parliament (MP) Gracita Arrindell, in its manifesto themed “Strong, Safe and Secure St. Maarten.”

The People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) led by Gracita Arrindell has suggested a 2.5 per cent real estate tax and a flat income tax of 10 per cent (see related story). Not everyone may agree, but at least the party has come out with some concrete proposals.

United St. Maarten party (USp) leader Frans Richardson too commented on the issue with a release published in Saturday’s opinion pages. He said taxes appearing in the existing fiscal regulations although currently not executed still scare away investors. The Member of Parliament (MP) mentioned “not tweaking here and there, but real changes to a modern tax structure,” yet stopped short of providing additional details.

St. Maarten Christian Party (SMPC) at the recent opening of its headquarters and presentation of its manifesto referred to “simplifying the tax system for improved compliance.”  

However, PPA was quite specific and as such is sticking its proverbial neck out. After all, the discussion on a property tax in St. Maarten is nothing new, but up to now it has always failed to materialise due to fierce opposition.

The latter is understandable, because such a levy would affect everyone who owns houses or apartments, no matter how small or big. Moreover, people who rent these out would be paying tax on both the related earnings and the value of their property.

At the same time, it’s a known fact that many foreigners with homes on the island also put these up for rent when not here and don’t pay a dime in taxes on those revenues, simply because they aren’t residents. Efforts were made a few years ago to introduce a so-called condo tax to tackle this problem, but it backfired because retroactive assessments were sent out blindly without evidence the people involved had actually made money with their local accommodations.

An across-the-board real estate tax would certainly address that shortcoming, but whether it can indeed produce NAf. 136 million on an annual basis remains to be seen. The same goes for the argument that this would allow for a general income tax rate of just 10 per cent.

Nevertheless, PPA deserves credit for presenting defined plans rather than vague talk to the voters ahead of the September 26 elections. Whether that will translate to support at the polls is another matter.

For many it must have been a pleasant surprise to be confronted with so-called electronic gates in the downstairs departure area of Princess Juliana International Airport SXM (see related story). Outbound travellers merely had to scan their boarding passes before going up to the security area, where their documents were, of course, checked anyway.

KINGSTON, Jamaica--The country’s outdated adoption laws and the devastating effects on the lives of children in need of stable homes have resurfaced, with members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House of Representatives raising concerns about the bureaucracy that continues to thwart the efforts of people outside of the island who want to give needy Jamaican minors a better life.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--The number of high net worth individuals in the Caribbean is reported to be increasing, based partly on the availability of programmes that incentivise real estate investment, offering residency permits and citizenship in the Caribbean.

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO--Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday it would buy Yahoo Inc's core internet properties for $4.83 billion in cash, marking the end of the line for a storied Web pioneer and setting the stage for a big new internet push by the telecom giant.

ROME/MILAN--Specialist Italian pension funds will consider a request to invest 500 million euros in bad bank loans as Rome works to build a safety-net around Italy's No. 3 lender Monte dei Paschi ahead of European bank stress tests.

MOSCOW--At the height of the Cold War, dancers from Russia's Bolshoi Ballet did their bit to thaw East-West relations, flying to London in 1956 to make their first performances for British audiences who had never seen anything quite like it.

HAVANA--Cuba may be one of the world's least connected countries but that is not stopping the Japanese subculture of animated movies, manga comics and video games from spreading feverishly among its youth.

FORT MYERS, Florida--Florida police said on Monday they had taken three people into custody but were searching for additional suspects in connection with a shooting outside a nightclub just after midnight that left two teenagers dead and more than a dozen people wounded.

PHILADELPHIA--The head of the Democratic Party resigned on Sunday amid a furor over embarrassing leaked emails, hoping to head off a growing rebellion by Bernie Sanders supporters on the eve of the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the White House.

ANSBACH, Germany--The Syrian who blew himself up in southern Germany, wounding 15 people, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State on a video found on his mobile phone, the Bavarian Interior Minister said on Monday.

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine--On Feb. 12 last year, the same day that a ceasefire ended the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine between rebels and government forces, a former rebel fighter seized a chance to turn his inside knowledge of the conflict into hard cash.

MARIGOT—The Collectivité of St. Martin has the pleasure to inform the public that the sports ground in Concordia located adjacent to the Territorial Library and Archives on Rue Jean-Luc Hamlet has been completely refurbished and is now open for use.

NEW YORK- - A Russian whistleblower who helped uncover the biggest doping scandal in decades has told Reuters that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is more concerned about protecting the organisation than ridding world sport of drugs cheats.

Dear Editor,

I strongly condemn the string of violent terror attacks in Germany over the past weekend. I stand in solidarity with the victims’ families and friends. Every life is special and unique in the eyes of God, be it you’re black, white, mulatto, Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, rich or poor, straight or gay, Conservative or Liberal, Right or Left, Blue, Green, Red or White.

One life taken is too many. There is no excuse to open fire on innocent men and women; neither is there to place explosives on oneself and detonate in a crowded area. There is no excuse to use a machete as a weapon of choice to slay an innocent woman, pregnant with an unborn child. There is no excuse to take another’s life. Hatred around the globe has grown to an all-time high, and as a result innocent lives are being lost and families are being destroyed. We have become an unsafe world filled with hatred at every corner. This needs to be reversed; it must be reversed. We need to stop the venom of hate that is destroying our communities and families, and we have to start the healing so we can move on to live and let live.

On St. Maarten, believe it or not, we may be just 37 square miles of green hills with blue water surrounding our island. We may have serious economic problems and social issues that need attention. We may not have the best electricity company or the greatest politicians, with a crime rate at an unacceptable level. However, we are a perfect and prime example of different cultures, different religions, different races and different lifestyles living together as one in peace.

We have a Dutch side and a French side. We have residents and visitors from as far as the Orient and Australia, and as close as our neighbours across the border living together. We share moments together on New Year’s Eve. We compete and party together at events like Heineken Regatta. We drink, eat and experience life during our Carnival celebration/season.

We work hard together and help our neighbours during the Hurricane Season and times of natural disasters. During tragedy, we mourn and pray together. We argue politics and then turn around and laugh together.

Make no mistake about it, we are a unique island, unmatched when it comes to diversity yet being able to live in harmony. I pray that it remains that way. Let us be the little island the big countries can learn a lesson or two from, on how to live together.

Together on St. Maarten, We can lift up the World.

Armand Meda

Dear Queenie,

My mother-in-law is a widow with limited means from the savings her late husband left her. She can’t make it on her own and depends on her children and they all agreed to pitch in to help.

The problem is one brother hasn’t yet given her a penny and in fact asked her for money which she gave him out of what the rest of them had given her, but we see him out and about all the time spending money on cigarettes and expensive dinners and restaurants and even going to adult clubs.

Queenie, if he can afford all that, why can’t he help his mother too, instead of asking her for money?—Angry daughter-in-law

Dear Daughter-in-law,

I do not blame you for being angry. Your brother-in-law is clearly selfish and irresponsible and if indeed he also promised to chip in obviously his word is no good.

However, it is up to his siblings (and his wife, if he is married) to demand that he man up and chip in his fair share instead of making things harder for his mother. They also should try to persuade their mother to stop giving him money she cannot afford.

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