COLE BAY--A group fight ended up being fatal for 23 year-old Gary Zorilla, who died on Friday morning as a result of multiple stab wounds suffered during between several men at the entrance of Diamond Estate in Cole Bay. Early reports suggest that seven men followed a group of four to the area with the intent to settle a score. Earlier on Thursday night, the latter group that included Zorilla saw three guys they had issues with and a fight ensued which, resulting in the trio being overpowered by the foursome that attacked them.
PHILIPSBURG—Atlantis Group owner Francesco Corallo has withdrawn his appeal to the High Court in the Netherlands regarding his extradition to Italy. This means that the ruling in favour of extradition has now become irrevocable, according to a press release from Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Norman Serphos.
PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST FOR ST. MAARTEN
DATE ISSUED: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 12:00 LST (16:00 UTC)
VALID UNTIL: Saturday midday (12:00 LST) July 22, 2017
This afternoon: Fair to partly cloudy and breezy, with a local shower possible.
Tonight through Saturday midday: Partly cloudy to cloudy and breezy, with isolated showers.
Health Minister Emil Lee put an old idea squarely back on the table during Wednesday’s press briefing. He said Government was looking into a so-called “sin tax” on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
While something similar has been proposed before, the Minister expressed a desire to add sugar soft drinks for obvious reasons. The revenues are to help finance the new National Health Insurance (NHI) and the idea fits into the policy of moving from direct to more indirect taxes.
In many countries these “bad” enjoyment products are the subject of excise levies. Objections to that scenario included affecting St. Maarten’s duty-free image and the country’s well-documented limited collection abilities. Also due to the lack of a closed cash register system such as in Curaçao enabling a comprehensive introduction of their OB sales tax, it was suggested to raise the existing ToT turnover tax for those particular goods.
In both cases enforcement and control might be a bit difficult, which means the measure’s effectiveness would depend largely on honesty and cooperation of the entrepreneurs involved. With general fiscal compliance known to be rather low, that sparks concerns.
Some also say these items are so popular among visitors that it could have a negative impact especially on cruise passengers and the destination is operating in a very competitive environment. However, even slightly going up in price would probably still keep them relatively inexpensive here compared to most of the island’s tourism source markets. Besides, a cocktail currently already goes for up to US $8 per glass in various bars and restaurants, so it’s not like going out for a drink is necessarily cheap.
Other alternatives include selling mandatory temporary local drivers’ licences to guests renting cars as they do elsewhere in the region. Adding a small real departure tax to the facility charge for travellers at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM could be considered as well, also because – unlike the harbour – the Airport doesn’t pay a concession fee to Government as a result of its expansion financing conditions.
The bottom line is that any drastic increase in the cost of visiting the island and/or doing business will face understandable opposition. That doesn’t necessarily mean nothing should be done, but it makes sense to proceed in a careful and modest manner.
St. Maarten Nature Foundation stands corrected. Its press release about illegal dumping of raw sewage at the landfill published in the paper of June 30 turned out to be incorrect (see related story).
Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christopher Emmanuel said the pump truck had in fact been working for the Ministry at the time. The crew had cleared a drainage pit and the collected muck that supposedly included oil could not be processed at the wastewater purification plant on Illidge Road.
It was therefore taken to a designated area of the dump. While admitting that this is not an ideal situation, Emmanuel pointed out that it’s been going on for years.
The heavy equipment operator in question was consequently unfairly being targeted after only doing what Government ordered and this could lead to a court case the Minister is trying to prevent. Mention was also made of the possible involvement of civil servants in recording and disseminating a video of the incident.
That is all well and good, but it does raise questions about what apparently ends up in St. Maarten’s regular rainwater runoff systems, so bad that the sewage plant can’t handle it. Surely the content should not include foreign substances such as petro-chemical waste.
Part of the reason may have to do with a complete lack of zoning by that same Ministry, which has led to all kinds of businesses opening up in residential areas. Many of these garages and other industrial-type activities fail to adhere to even minimum standards regarding, for example, waste disposal.
It’s called pollution.
PARAMARIBO--Anne van Leeuwen, the new Ambassador from the Netherlands for Suriname, is not welcome there local media reported on Thursday. According to news website Starnieuws.com, Government has revoked the approval of accreditation for the Ambassador who was supposed to start his tenure in Paramaribo next month.
HAMILTON, Bermuda--The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Tuesday swept the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) out of power in the general elections.
The result prompted former Premier Michael Dunkley to step down as OBA leader and his losing deputy to quit politics altogether.
The PLP won 24 of the 36 seats in the House of Assembly, while OBA took the other 12, which meant that none of the five independent candidates – including former Premier Paula Cox – got any success at the polls.
In addition to holding on to the 17 seats it won in the 2012 election, the PLP captured seven others from the OBA, including some regarded as safe seats for the former ruling party.
PLP leader David Burt was on Wednesday sworn in as Premier – the youngest in Bermuda’s history.
While Dunkley won his seat, his deputy in Government and in the party, Bob Richards, lost his to the PLP’s Christopher Famous.
The Royal Gazette reported this morning that Dunkley resigned as party leader after the election defeat.
Meanwhile, the defeated OBA deputy leader, who first entered the House of Assembly as a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2007, announced that he would no longer continue in active politics.
“I’ve done my best. This has accelerated my retirement from politics,” Richards said. ~ Caribbean360 ~
WASHINGTON-- A group representing major technology companies has aligned itself against Qualcomm Inc in its legal dispute with Apple Inc by calling on regulators to reject Qualcomm's bid to ban the import of iPhones.
A lobbying group that represents Alphabet Inc's Google , Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
PARIS--EU judges will have to decide whether Alphabet's Google has to remove certain web search results globally to comply with a previous privacy ruling after France's supreme administrative court referred the issue to the top EU court.
LOS ANGELES--From the dragons of Westeros and the "Walking Dead" zombies to the deadly humanoid robots of "Westworld," the golden age of television is dominating the limelight at San Diego's annual Comic-Con.
BEIJING--A Chinese female blogger who posed as a man's Lunar New Year girlfriend says her experience illustrates the generational tensions over finding a marriage partner in China.
WASHINGTON/PHOENIX, Ariz.-- U.S. Senator John McCain promised on Thursday he would return rapidly to Washington despite his newly diagnosed brain cancer, flashing the fighting spirit that has defined him since he was held in captivity as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War.
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday a bid by President Donald Trump to include grandparents and other relatives of Americans in his travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries.
CARACAS- - Many Venezuelan streets were barricaded and deserted on Thursday for a strike called by foes of President Nicolas Maduro to demand elections and the scrapping of plans for a new congress they fear will consolidate dictatorship in the OPEC country.
BRIANCON, France- - Tour de France leader Chris Froome remained rock-solid on a thrilling Col d'Izoard climb won in audacious fashion by Warren Barguil on Thursday and now looks unstoppable in his bid to claim a fourth title in Paris.
Why even bother at this time to write about the qualifications of a parliamentarian, when the next parliamentary election is all the way in 2020? Sadly, this has been the mentality in the past that has led us to vote for persons, based on friendship, family ties and family tradition, instead of looking at the qualifications, qualities and experience of the candidates.
One of the reasons we have not paid much attention to the qualifications of parliamentarians, is because during election time, our politicians campaign as if they were running to become ministers in government. However, they failed to point out the difference and the separation between parliament and government. To summarize, the people elect the parliamentarians, and the parliamentarians in turn appoint the ministers. Therefore, if we want a good Council of Ministers, we must vote for noble, qualified parliamentarians, who would ensure that we get a good government.
Besides the four criteria for parliamentarians listed in the Constitution, parties, as well as the people should hold candidates to a high standard. Article 49 of our Constitution states that to “be eligible for membership of Parliament, a person must be a resident of Sint Maarten, a Dutch national, have attained the age of eighteen years, and must not have been disqualified from voting”. As far as the age is concerned, a person can be on a party’s slate at age 17; as long as he/she turns 18 by the time the oath has to be taken.
Based on the Constitution, anyone with the Dutch nationality can become a parliamentarian in Sint Maarten. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the constitutions of neighbouring countries like St Kitts and Nevis, the Commonwealth of Dominica and the Territory of Anguilla clearly stipulate that to be elected, persons must be connected to the country or territory by birth or descent. If such a criterion were applied in Sint Maarten, many persons would not be eligible to become members of parliament, including myself, as well as several of our current MPs. Revising the nationality article will require a constitutional amendment, which needs the approval of the other countries of the kingdom.
The criterion “must not have been disqualified from voting” relates to the final verdict of a court of law. In other words, once the court case of a prospective parliamentarian is still in appeal he/she has all rights to join a party or to establish a party. The prospective parliamentarian also has the right to campaign, to be elected, to take the oath of office and to function as a member of parliament until he/she receives the final guilty verdict.
This is the reason MP Silvio Matser is still functioning as a Member of Parliament. Even though the Court in First Instance, as well as the Joint Court of Justice found him guilty of tax evasion, he has appealed the case at the High Court in The Hague and consequently has the right to function as a parliamentarian until he receives the final judgement from the latter court. We may not agree with the law, but we must abide by it.
In addition to the constitutional criteria mentioned earlier, it is important that we also evaluate prospective parliamentarians based on several other qualifications, such as love for Sint Maarten, Dutch language skills and integrity. If persons have a love for Sint Maarten, it will show in their involvement in the community. They will be engaged, in one way or another, in trying to better the society. Their motive for getting in politics would be for the sake and the good of the people, and not for personal gain. They should ascribe to, and live by, the principles of integrity, transparency, accountability, and love for the country.
How many of the 125 candidates who took part in the 2016 elections are still visible and active today? Even many of them, who have been elected to parliament, often do not see the need to represent us as we expect them to. One parliamentarian has not attended parliamentary meetings in months. At times, several of our parliamentarians have refused to attend meetings. Not too long ago, the minority faction in parliament even declined to represent us at a high-level kingdom meeting. This is really not the kind of representation we expect from our parliamentarians!
As far as Dutch language skills are concerned, it is important that prospective parliamentarians have at least a working knowledge of the Dutch language. It is interesting to note that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica includes a language qualification stating that to be qualified to be elected, a person must be able to speak and read the English language. Admittedly, Sint Maarten’s constitutional and judicial systems are very much embedded in the Dutch system. It is obvious that Dutch supersedes the English language, when we read the disclaimer at the bottom of each page of a translated law: “No rights can be derived from the English translation”.
The SMCP believes that if voters take the additional qualifications into serious consideration when electing parliamentarians, Sint Maarten would have a stronger, better qualified, integrity-based parliament, which in turn would appoint ministers to the Council of Ministers, based on their professional, experiential and ethical qualifications.
Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party
I say it’s rude to start watching TV when you have company. My husband says it’s okay if the TV is on when the guests arrive.
Queenie, who is right?—TV Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
Unless the guests were specifically invited to come to watch some special event on TV with you, it is rude to turn on the TV when you have guests, because it tells them the TV is more important than they are. And if the TV is already on when they arrive, the polite thing to do is to turn it off so you can visit with them undistracted – unless, as said, they were invited for the purpose of watching TV together with you.