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Onlookers in Simpson Bay have raised concerns about what appears to be filling in of the lagoon in the area of the former Lee's Roadside Grill. Dirt is said to be trucked in from a development just at the border on the Cole Bay side of the lagoon.

 

WILLEMSTAD/PHILIPSBURG--Effective June 13, Bob Traa has been named president of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS), anticipating his formal appointment. This function was temporarily held by Leila Matroos-Lasten since November 17, 2017.

Curaçao has escaped a budgetary instruction for now. However, the Rhuggenaath Cabinet needs to quickly come up with structural reforms to both reduce the deficits in compliance with the consensus Kingdom Law Financial Supervision via its enforcement arm CFT and grow the slumping economy as also pointed out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). So, it’s not “either/or” but rather “and” in this case, making the challenge even bigger.

In addition to public finances, the negative balance of payments is becoming a problem that – if left unchecked – could ultimately also affect St. Maarten should it ever put pressure on the value of the monetary union’s shared currency the Netherlands Antilles guilder and its peg to the US dollar. Keeping the foreign exchange reserves at an adequate level is obviously crucial in that sense.

The PAR/MAN/PIN government in Willemstad will have its hands full with tackling these two already-by-themselves complicated issues simultaneously. Moreover, it must do so with the Isla refinery, oil transhipment facility and all related shipping plus other business activities practically at a standstill until perhaps long after the ongoing crisis in neighbouring Venezuela is finally resolved, which will be who-knows-when.

While allowed some deficits due to the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, St. Maarten too is finding it difficult to meet the budget requirements. These are being set not just by CFT but also the Dutch government as a condition for liquidity support needed to cover the shortfalls and keep the country running.

It must be said, despite the blow suffered by the local hospitality industry, the Dutch side has held its own in foreign exchange earnings, thanks in part to insurance payments and assistance from the Netherlands. The latter included early relief but also the first disbursements of the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank.

In addition to urgently passing and implementing the 2019 budget, the focus must be on further reviving the tourism economy to create the necessary income, for which reconstruction of the airport is a key ingredient. And yes, here too, this must be done at the same time and will take some quality multi-tasking.

The illegal toilet found at Mullet Bay (see related story) once again shows a total lack of respect for nature. Whoever is responsible obviously does not understand and/or care about the value of the island’s natural resources such as the beach and sea.

These are important not just for environmental and recreational reasons, but also key ingredients of the hospitality industry on which practically everyone’s income – whether directly or indirectly – ultimately depends. Particularly Mullet Bay, apart from being a local favourite, is popular among guests.

With makeshift plumbing to channel excrement into the bushes right on the beach it is also a public health and hygiene issue. After today’s report competent authorities will no doubt take swift action to remove this potential hazard.

The incident does raise questions about facilities at a prime location enjoyed by so many residents and tourists, including cruise passengers who are often taken there by taxi tours. If barbeque outlets and lounge rental businesses have been allowed to operate there, shouldn’t there be proper sanitary provisions as well?

A few of the common portable green toilets were placed there, but the problem is that their holding tanks need to be emptied regularly, otherwise it becomes an unclean, smelly affair. Perhaps better, more frequent service and maintenance could improve that situation.

After all, when part of Kim Sha was prepared as alternative spot for cruise passengers to hang out after Hurricane Irma a decent bathroom was added in addition to vendors, although – truth be told – there were some initial sewage issues too.

Circumstances at Mullet Bay are a bit difficult, as it regards privately-held land and those involved apparently have different plans. However, meanwhile making visits to the – still public – beach a pleasant experience is in everybody’s best interest, including their own.

From left: Foreign Minister of Morocco Nasser Bourita and Suriname, Yldiz Pollack-Beighle

 

PARAMARIBO--The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco Nasser Bourita arrived to a warm welcome in Suriname earlier this week to expand bilateral relations. Behind this mission to Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Chile is the issue of Western Sahara also known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which Morocco claims as an integral part of the Kingdom.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana--Colombia’s new Ambassador to the Caribbean Community CARICOM, Martha Pinilla, said on Wednesday that her country is willing to make every effort to participate in the Caribbean mega-festival of arts: CARIFESTA XIV, scheduled for August 16-25 in Trinidad and Tobago.

HONG KONG--Some Hong Kong tycoons have started moving personal wealth offshore as concern deepens over a local government plan to allow extraditions of suspects to face trial in China for the first time, according to financial advisers, bankers and lawyers familiar with such transactions.

VATICAN CITY--Pope Francis said on Friday that carbon pricing is "essential" to stem global warming - his clearest statement yet in support of penalising polluters - and appealed to climate change deniers to listen to science.

WESTVLETEREN, Belgium--Belgian Trappist monks who brew one of the world's most coveted beers are turning to online sales to ensure their limited supply goes directly to beer lovers rather than to profiteers.

LOS ANGELES--Flesh-eating zombies terrorise a small town in Jim Jarmusch's "The Dead Don't Die", a comedy horror in which polar fracking sets off strange reactions and raises the dead.

WASHINGTON--U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday reversed course over whether he would report foreign interference in a political campaign to U.S. law enforcement, telling Fox News in an interview he would "of course" contact authorities.

SAN FRANSISCO--A U.S. appeals court handed President Donald Trump a victory in his effort to ban most transgender people from the military, ordering a judge to reconsider her ruling against the policy, which the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to take effect.

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI--A leading Indian doctors' association called for a nationwide strike on Monday, stepping up protests by medical staff demanding better security at hospitals after an attack on doctors in Kolkata.

DUBAI/WASHINGTON--The United States on Friday blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers at the entrance to the Gulf and said it was seeking international consensus about the threat to shipping, despite Tehran denying involvement in the explosions at sea.

 

 CUL DE SDAC--On display during the final of the Prime Distributors Twenty20 tournament, will be a long list of exciting players from off island. Players from Anguilla, Antigua, Nevis and St. Kitts will complement the skills of the local players on St. Maarten in the final which is scheduled at Caribe Lumber Ballpark on Sunday from 2:00pm.

The two teams competing for the championship trophy are General Auto Repairs (GAR) Spartans and WINAIR Conquerors. Both teams have played well to advance to the final, but Spartans has benefitted most from the local content, and has not used any players from off island before the final.

SOUTHAMPTON, England- - Joe Root's classy unbeaten century led England to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over West Indies in a one-sided Cricket World Cup match in Southampton on Friday.

Dear Queenie,

  My husband and I have been married for about 25 years and things have gotten real boring. There isn’t any passion or romance like we used to have.

  We don’t want to go on like this for the rest of our lives, but we don’t want to be like enemies if we get a divorce. I think we could still stay friends, especially because we have children, but my husband doesn’t think so.

  Queenie, how can we keep our marriage going, or stay friends if we get divorced?—Middle-aged housewife

 

Dear Housewife,

  There is a good reason for the phrasing of the marriage vows – “for better or worse, … until death do us part”.

  Things change in any relationship, especially after children come along, and basically you have promised to adapt to whatever happens and stay together for the rest of your lives. Maintaining a good relationship requires effort and the ability to adjust to those changes.

  However, if you decide to get divorced you can still stay friends, even if you only do so for your children’s sake. It may not be easy, but it can be done if you both make the effort.

Dear Editor,

  I am writing this hoping it sheds light on some very stressful situations facing our locals. I am hoping here to be a voice for the voiceless. When one encounters situations that cause sleepless nights for upright citizens it becomes criminal not to say something and hope improvement will come about. This is about the situation Mrs. Z and several others find themselves in:

  Mrs. Z. is a pensioned disabled lady who seeks answers to her dilemma. This lady ALWAYS keeps up to date with filing her taxes, and seldom if any time during her working years had to be anything additional because she always had enough deductibles in or to be able to get refunds.

  A few years ago she filed for 2015, 2016, and 2017. The tax administration is 3 to 4 years behind, so this year of 2018 Mrs. Z got notice she would be refunded close to NAf. 3,000 for 2015. This she knew prior to that time, and made arrangement with someone that she would pay them for something owed from this refund. Arrangements were made with tax administration and her account was to be checked within 8 weeks for that deposit.

  While awaiting the time to check for the refund, a notice came in the mail that Mrs. Z was to pay an additional NAf. 4,000 for 2016. When this lady went to inquire about collecting her 2015 refund she was told that she owes for 2016, and it would have to be deducted. You can imagine the disappointment.

  Mrs. Z tried to protest, but her account officer was not receptive to anything she was saying. She explained that she was having much difficulty acquiring health insurance, she had her crutches, and tried every way possible way to see if she could get her refund and make the arrangements to start paying for what is owed for 2016.

  Mrs. Z now sees nothing of what she strived so hard to obtain in 2015 and is up to date in filing 2018. Her 2015 benefit is lost and we are sure no mercy will be shown for her regarding how to pay for 2017 and 2018, while obtaining the 2015 refund would have facilitated this process, and relieve the current financial stresses faced by this lady. Once the 2015 refund did what it was intended to do, the path would have been clearer for dealing with what is to come.

  This seems very unfair for a person who is getting the run-around regarding insurance – a person who was told by SZV she would receive a call from SZV, but never did. When she went to find out about SZV’s decision she was given a form to take to Social Affairs after waiting 3 long months for a call regarding the decision. Now Social Affairs is saying that it will take over 4 weeks to obtain a decision from them.

  Here is a person who religiously files her taxes having to wait over 4 months for medical relief. Now we understand why there is often so much noise at SZV.

  Mrs. Z and I are hearing from many social media contacts and their contacts that there is a huge amount of physical, emotional, financial, and mental suffering happening in their circle. Many people are facing a lot of pain. We are willing and able to help in their healing process although they have just about given up all hope. These situations do not make it easy for us to maintain the energy needed to be a support for others.

  We are inviting others who are faced with such circumstances shared above to let their voices be heard. If we do not say something, those who are making these drastic decisions against our self-interest will continue these heartless practices.

  It is time for us to get out of our minds and into our hearts. “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

 

Name withheld at author’s request.