PHILIPSBURG--Investment in a “state-of-the-art” tax office, implementation of ordinances to impose stiffer penalties for violent crimes, diversify the economy and stimulate upward mobility in living standards are among the key areas the National Alliance/United St. Maarten Party/Democratic Party coalition plans to tackle in this governing term.
WILLEMSTAD--Gilmar “Pik” Pisas (MFK), the current President of Parliament, will take the oath of office as Prime Minister of Curaçao today, Friday.
The smoking dump has become one of St. Maarten’s most urgent issues, as once again became evident in the last two days. There have even been suggestions that the US or other source markets of the local tourism economy might well consider negative travel advisories due to the health hazard in the future under similar circumstances.
So, it’s not bad enough that fumes from the frequent fires threaten the wellbeing of residents living, working and/or going to school downwind of the landfill, which has clearly surpassed its lifespan. The very livelihood of practically everyone on the whole island is increasingly at stake.
And the problem is not limited to neighbourhoods nearby. The entire Simpson Bay tourism area was shrouded under a cloud of smoke for much of Wednesday evening and – just when people thought the worst was over – the same thing occurred in the Mary’s Fancy/Saunders/St. Peters/South Reward cul-de-sac the next morning.
While what actually prompts these blazes remains a point of contention, it does appear they are often the consequence of human scavenging activities. Efforts were made in the recent past to keep unauthorised persons out, but those in charge are apparently unable to stop them in a structural manner.
Although some informal garbage separation has started, it all seems too little too late. Plans for a waste-to-energy facility have been a topic of discussion for many years, so far without any tangible result.
The small scale does present obvious challenges. However, the same can be said of the French side where they are at least seriously attempting to recycle and properly dispose of their trash. Doing this together would probably be the best way to handle it, but primarily because it involves two separate countries that’s not likely to happen any time soon.
Extracting gas from landfills to produce electricity is a proven technique and possible option, but any such scenario would require Government-owned local utility company GEBE to be fully on board. The question is how much longer the island and its people can really afford to endure an outdated, inadequate and non-environmentally-friendly system of garbage collection and processing.
Today’s report about mandatory tourism awareness training is interesting. Taxi drivers and tour operators are the initial targets, which means participation in the programme can, if necessary, be set as condition for their operational licences issued by Government.
Making it compulsory for others might not be so self-evident, however. Unless employment permits of foreigners are involved, it’s the business or organisation where the people work that most likely will have to require this from its personnel.
But there is probably no reason anybody should refuse such an opportunity to better prepare themselves for their role in the local hospitality sector to begin with. Some may think they don’t need it, but one never ceases to learn and surely a refresher course is in principle always welcome.
The use of a company certified by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) to provide the customer service and destination information lessons makes sense, also because the island lost a large number of visitors due to fewer calls by ships in the past year. Thankfully, there was a bit of good news earlier this week that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will increase its passenger numbers for the 2017-2018 season by 15 per cent or 100,000 persons, while Seabourn started home-porting on the island.
Nevertheless, keen attention must continue to be paid so St. Maarten maintains its leading position in the industry despite increasing competition from both within and outside the region. Knowledge is power.
PARAMARIBO--The Dutch national who escaped from prison earlier this month had help from his younger brother, investigations have indicated. Gerel Lusiano Palm ran from the Duisburglaan Penitentiary on March 3, into a waiting car that has since turned out to be registered in his brother’s name. Neither man has been caught yet.
CASTRIES, St. Lucia--The Government of St. Lucia appears set on a collision course with the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and other interest groups over a controversial development.
BERLIN--Germany's rich have been getting richer and its poor poorer, a government report seen by Reuters shows, all-but shattering the popular global image of a wealthy country with equal access to high-paying jobs in a robust labour market.
TEL AVIV--Israel, a leader in marijuana research and health technology, is attracting international investment as it tries to position itself as a cutting-edge exporter in the rapidly-growing market for medical-grade cannabis.
BEIJING--Fast car chases, daring stunts and explosions return to the big screen in the eighth instalment of the "Fast and Furious" racing film franchise and Oscar winner Charlize Theron joins the cast with her own "badass jet".
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK--U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has directed U.S. diplomatic missions to identify "populations warranting increased scrutiny" and toughen screening for visa applicants in those groups, according to diplomatic cables seen by Reuters.
JERUSALEM/NEW YORK--A teenager with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
LONDON--The attacker who ploughed a car through a throng of pedestrians and then stabbed a policeman outside Britain's parliament was named on Thursday as Khalid Masood, a British-born man who was once investigated by MI5 intelligence officers over concerns about violent extremism.
KIEV--Ukraine accused Russia of "state terrorism" after a former Russian lawmaker and key witness in a treason case against former leader Viktor Yanukovich was shot dead in broad daylight outside a hotel in central Kiev on Thursday. Russia called the allegation "absurd".
FLORIDA- - World number one Dustin Johnson continued his perfect record at the WGC-Dell Match Play on Thursday while number two Rory McIlroy was eliminated without even setting foot on the course.
FLORIDA-- Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova cruised into the third round of the Miami Open with a 6-1 6-3 win over Madison Brengle on Thursday while Dominika Cibulkova beat Paraguayan qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg 6-3 6-2.
The administrator of the National Bank of Anguilla Private Bank & Trust (NBA PB&T), William Tacon, and perhaps others, have been publicly accused of trying to “frustrate [Anguilla’s] banking resolution process.”
I lived in Anguilla in early 2000, at the time I opened a bank account at NBA, which I kept when I left. As a part of the so-called “banking resolution process,” all my money at NBA was confiscated. There are many more like me – people who once lived on Anguilla, people who live in St. Martin and banked in Anguilla, non-belongers still living on Anguilla – who had their entire deposits confiscated as a part of the “resolution” process. Ordinary people, some who kept the bulk of their entire life savings at NBA; ordinary people, some of whom now cannot pay for their children's schooling or who were denied the payment of essential medical bills because of the “resolution” process.
Your readers may or may not be aware that what this “process” was is the total expropriation of foreign depositors; not down to our last dollar, not down to our last dime, but down to our last penny. What made the difference as to whether you got all your money back or whether you lost all your money in the “resolution” process was whether you were a belonger or a non-belonger.
What those of us who were so expropriated wish to do is not to frustrate any process at all; indeed, we wish to do nothing at all. We would much rather not be in the position we find ourselves in – and into which we have been forced by the actions of Anguilla’s politicians – at all. Many of us consider ourselves friends of Anguilla. We understand that Anguilla’s economy is in a difficult situation (but I urge you to consider that so are the economies of some of the places those of us who were expropriated live. In the last 3 years, Sark’s population has declined by 26 per cent due to economic emigration as there are no jobs. In that timeframe, most of Sark’s large employers have closed down including 67 per cent of our hotels).
All we wish is to be treated equally to all the other depositors. We understand that banks sometimes fail and when they do depositors may lose some of their money. We just don't expect to lose all our money – particularly when others walk away with all of theirs or are even able to continue to borrow money from the very same bank which claims it has no money to repay deposits (as was done at NBA). Not only is it morally wrong to treat depositors differently, the law requires that in the case of a bank's failure all depositors are treated equally and that they all lose the same proportion of their deposits. To do otherwise is not just immoral, it is fraud.
The law was flouted, brazenly, and in many cases, the expropriation has led to real and tangible hardship. We do not want to have to pursue any legal route and we did not seek to have to do so. Indeed, many who were expropriated cannot even afford to do so. William Tacon is the only champion of such depositors.
When people are pushed into a corner and have everything – absolutely everything – taken away from them and are left with nothing – absolutely nothing – to lose, what should they do? Keep quiet and die. What kind of a callous person does it take to attack and accuse such people of trying to “frustrate” his “process”?
The actions taken by politicians may be designed to endear them with their electorate in the short term, but I suggest they are not in Anguilla’s best long term interest.
Firstly, what does this do for the long term reputation and economic prospects of Anguilla and for the prospects of foreign investors investing in Anguilla in the future? If a country confiscates foreign savers’ deposits in this fashion, word will get around. This matter has already received considerable coverage in news media around the world and Anguilla’s reputation as a place in which to do business has plummeted.
If the Government of Anguilla cannot protect innocent people who trusted their money to something as supposedly safe as a bank account, how can investors in projects such as hotels in Anguilla feel comfortable with their ventures? The answer is that they cannot. If those investors stop investing in Anguilla because of this it would be a disaster for Anguilla. Hotels and other properties would likely close, Anguillians and belongers would likely lose their jobs and livelihoods could be destroyed. As a consequence, lots more businesses would close and banks very likely could fail again. Anguilla’s progress since the 1967 revolution would be wiped out and reversed. So, the jobs and livelihood of Anguillians is at risk.
Secondly, expropriation without compensation, particularly if it involves discrimination on the basis of national origin, is a very serious violation of international law by which every civilized nation including Anguilla and the United Kingdom (on Anguilla’s behalf) is bound. To illustrate, there is historic precedent for a country expropriating the assets of foreigners or of those they deemed did not belong (and of course it is much easier to expropriate the assets of those who live far away and who don’t have a vote than of those who do and whom you have to look in the eye every day). In the 20th century, a certain European country, at the behest of its “Chief Minister”, confiscated all the assets of their Jews; Robert Mugabe tried something similar in Zimbabwe. Neither did so as efficiently or as thoroughly as Anguilla has done – they both only got some of the foreigners assets under their control, while Anguilla expropriated all its non-belonger deposits in their entirety (so perhaps the banking “resolution” process would more accurately be called the “final solution” process).
To avoid such situations, after the Second World War, international conventions were signed which prohibit such expropriation and which brand it a “human rights abuse” and as a “gross human rights violation” – which of course is exactly what it is. Unless the matter is resolved either voluntarily by Anguilla or involuntarily in the local courts, it is most likely that Anguilla will find itself being found guilty of human rights abuses by the international courts in which such matters are litigated (and consequently be found financially liable too). Is such a reputation really in Anguilla’s best interest?
And thirdly, if the courts find in favour of those foreign depositors who have lost their money and livelihoods then ultimately it is very likely that the Government of Anguilla (in other words, the Anguillian taxpayer) will have to pay for this –10s of millions of US dollars, possibly more than the Government’s revenue for the whole year. Taxes, duties and levies would very likely have to be increased to a crippling degree to pay for this.
Sark, Channel Islands
My colleague is getting married. Her husband-to-be is unemployed and has been that way throughout their entire relationship. She complains that all he does is watch TV and she pays all their bills so she never has enough left over for recreation. Then she gets jealous when the girls in the office discuss what we did over the weekend. She is always stressed out, living pay-check to pay-check.
Queenie, what advice do you have for her?—Concerned co-worker
My advice to your colleague is: Dump that free-loading bum!
It may not be easy for you, but it is possible that doing so will motivate him to shape up, get a job and start carrying his own weight.
However, as long as you are willing to support him, what incentive does he have to even try to find work or pay his own way, let alone support you? What will you do if he gets you pregnant? How will you manage to work through your pregnancy and support yourself and your child once it is born?
I say it again: Dump that free-loading bum!