Switching from the Antillean guilder to the US dollar

January 17, 2010 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Business and Economy, St. Maarten News 

The discussion about switching from the Antillean guilder to the US dollar in Curaçao and St. Maarten when the Netherlands Antilles ceases to exist has died down somewhat since a symposium on the subject at the end of last year. However, preparations for “dollarisation” continue unabated behind the scenes in financial circles in Willemstad, confirmed director Chicu Capriles of Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB), the parent company of Windward Islands Bank (WIB), during a recent interview on TeleCuraçao.

The banker was quite candid about it, saying the move made sense considering the strong economic ties to the US. He added that the public would be duly informed in due time and every effort would be made for the process to go as smoothly as possible.

The fact that the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, which are to become special overseas bodies of the Netherlands, have already chosen for the US dollar – rather than the euro, which says a lot – plays a role as well. Maintaining an Antillean guilder only for the two islands in the process of becoming autonomous countries in the Dutch Kingdom simply is not worth it, also because the dollar already rules in St. Maarten. The latter is definitely the case and has been for years. In fact, if it were not for government and people having to pay a one per cent foreign exchange licence fee at the bank every time they take out dollars, most likely even fewer guilders would be in circulation on the Dutch side.

That’s why it’s hard to understand why the local political establishment appears to be dragging its feet on this issue. After all, a switch to the dollar on “The Friendly Island” with its one-pillar tourism economy and North America as predominant source market most likely would be much easier and less cumbersome than in Curaçao. Not only that, but if Curaçao goes the dollar route it would leave St. Maarten little choice, because an own currency just for the island considering the widespread use of the dollar is hardly worth considering. In addition, the agreement for the two future countries to continue sharing the Central Bank would lose much of its value, because the role of that institution would be severely diminished in case of ”dollarisation” and it probably would be replaced by a much smaller and less influential regulatory board to supervise the financial sector.

It’s noteworthy that Central Bank President Emsley Tromp is the main proponent of switching to the dollar, despite the strongly limiting effect it would have on the very institution he heads. His position apparently has been adopted by financial circles in Willemstad to the point where work is already underway it make it a reality.

St. Maarten should waste no time in doing its own homework. A switch to the dollar would indeed seem to make every sense in the world and at least would spell an end to the current undesirable practice of penalising local residents with a licence fee for doing business in the predominant currency.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

Plan B or not, new countries must comply with conditions

October 20, 2009 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Government & Politics, St. Maarten News 

THE HAGUE–It is an issue that the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber keeps coming back to: St. Maarten cannot attain country status before it has complied with all conditions. Members of Parliament’s Permanent Committee on Antillean and Aruban Affairs NAAZ don’t seem too enthusiastic about State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Ank Bijleveld-Schouten’s Plan B.

Parliament wondered, during Thursday’s meeting, whether the proposed General Acts of Kingdom Government (Algemene Maatregelen van Rijksbestuur AMvR), for federal tasks that would not be ready to be assumed by new Countries Curaçao and St. Maarten in October next year, were the famous Plan B.

Bijleveld-Schouten confirmed on Thursday that Plan B involved the General Acts of Kingdom Government, designed to regulate tasks that are not ready for execution by Countries Curaçao and St. Maarten at the moment of dismantling the Netherlands Antilles. This means that Curaçao and St. Maarten can attain country status before they have taken over all tasks of the Country the Netherlands Antilles.

And that is exactly what Dutch Parliament doesn’t want, especially not for St. Maarten. Christian Democratic Party CDA Member of Parliament (MP) Bas Jan van Bochove reminded Bijleveld-Schouten of the motion of October 2008, supported by the majority in Parliament, which urged the Dutch Government to hold off on country status for St. Maarten until after the island had complied with the conditions of adequate maintenance of law and order and administration of law.

In the last minutes of Thursday’s meeting, Bijleveld-Schouten explained how the General Acts of Kingdom Government would work. She said a committee would monitor the progress and joint plans of approach would be drawn up. The Kingdom Council of Ministers would have the last say.

According to the State Secretary, this Plan B would be better than arranging the tasks that were not ready through the Governor, because it would be more effective, and the Kingdom Government would have a better grip on the matter. MP Johan Remkes of the liberal democratic VVD party sought clarity on the committee that would monitor the process. “What kind of animal is that?” He said that the State Secretary seemed to be “sinking deeper and deeper into the swamp.”

Due to time constraints, MPs didn’t have a chance to finish the discussion with the State Secretary on this issue, so it was decided to continue the debate on October 28, after the autumn recess.

Members of the NAAZ committee expressed their doubts about the date 10-10-10, when Curaçao and St. Maarten would become countries, and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES islands) would be integrated into the Netherlands as “public entities.”

MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party, the biggest opposition party, said Bijleveld-Schouten was “drumming” on the date. “We all know that this date is not feasible. Why does the State Secretary keep organising disappointments? I understand this numerical poetry, but in the past these dates proved unfeasible. And that will happen again this time,” he said.

Johan Remkes compared the dismantling and the realisation of new statuses to an unfinished house. “When you build a house, you get a contractor and you decide on a date when the house should be finished. I am under the impression that the State Secretary has agreed to a completion of a house without a roof, doors or windows. The Final Declaration (of November 2006, -Ed.) clearly stated that everything had to be in order before country status could be attained,” he said.

MPs Bas Jan van Bochove (CDA) and Pierre Heijnen of Labour Party PvdA also didn’t seem too confident about the 10-10-10 deadline. MP Hero Brinkman of Party for Freedom PVV was the only one daring enough to mention a “more realistic” date. “Let’s forget 10-10-10 and make it 12-12-12,” he said.

MP Ineke van Gent of green left party GroenLinks said she was getting a “headache” from the process of constitutional reform. “The support is dwindling with each debate. We are in a downward spiral. GroenLinks wants to stick to 10-10-10, but we also agree that partners have to stick to the conditions that were agreed to,” she said.

Bijleveld-Schouten said she was “happy” that a date had been set. “Now everyone knows what they are up to, and parties can work towards that goal,” she said. She warned however that the date could only become a reality if the countries Curaçao and St. Maarten had their affairs completely in order. “We [will] stick to the agreement and we will check if they comply with all conditions,” she said.

Source: thedailyherald.com

St. Martin: DAVID EUSTACE SHOT DEAD AT ENTRANCE OF CASA BLANCA

October 4, 2009 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Law Enforcement and Crime, St. Maarten News 

St. Maarten has recorded another murder, this time on the Dutch side of the island in the vicinity of Casa Blanca Adult Entertainment club. David Eustace (41) is the son of Carmen Priest and proprietor of Casa Blanca was shot shortly before 4pm at the entrance of the business place. On the scene was his mother who waited until the undertakers removed the body from the scene.

According to information reaching SMN News, Eustace was shot on the right side of his abdomen with a shot gun. He was shot three times at point blank range from the passenger side of the Chevy bus. The shooting it is alleged seems more like a hit and not any type of robbery. Eustace was driving a bus which had one of his close friends Leroy Richardson (Sweet Leroy) inside the bus when they left Casa Blanca. Police found at least four spent shells belonging to a shot gun on the scene.

This media house has been reliably informed that a green Samurai soft top jeep with either two occupants was in the immedate area of the adult entertainment club. The number plate on the vehicle it is understood was covered with a piece of cloth while the shooters remained unmasked.

SMN News further learnt that the occupants of the jeep stopped Eustace as he was leaving the club. Eustace it is said stopped and the shooter approached the driver side then he walked over to the passenger side of the bus, opened the door and told Sweet Leroy to bend down (duck down) and proceed to shoot Eustace in his abdomen. The vehicle continued moving and ended up in a nearby trench. The businessman died on the spot.

Police is baffled with a number of things which to them does not seem right. One of those things is why Sweet Leroy who was accompanying Eustace to see a lawyer was seated in the back of the bus, while the passenger seat remained vacant. The gunman shot Eustace from the passenger side of the bus.

According to several persons on the scene Sweet Leroy got off the bus when it stopped and began running towards the hills, back to Casa Blanca. It is not clear why the shooters did not interfere or hurt Sweet Leroy an eyewitnesses to the broad daylight murder. Leroy Richardson (Sweet Leroy) was invited to the police station where a statement was taken from him as the main eyewitness.

SMN News learnt that Sweet Leroy was taken to the St. Maarten Medical Center sometime in the evening as he took in ill due to the shock of witnessing his friend’s murder. It is understood that after Richardson received his treatment after which police went with him to an undisclosed location to further question him.

SMN News has learnt that the victim is indebted to a number of persons. SMN News further learnt that Eustace owed at least one businessman over $20,000 while he has monies for other people. The souce said police is trying to figure out if the killing is linked to Eustace’s financial problems.

On September 9 2009, Eustace filed a petition against Carolina Bar with the Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards and Assistant Commissioner of Police Ademar Doran. In his petition he stated that Carolina Bar was operating illegally as a house of prostitution. The petition filed is based on the sex industry policy of 2003. Eustace also included in his petition that the Seamans Club relocated illegally.

Police is busy investigating the killing and the motive of the execution style murder. David Eustace is also known as David Priest in the community of St. Maarten.

In the meantime, this is the third murder for the week, two of the killings took place on the French side of the island.

SMN News also learnt the gendarmes are busy investigating another shooting which took place on Thursday night in Colombier. It is understood that some Haitians had an argument and gun shots were fired. It is not clear if anyone was injured in this incident.

Source: smn-news.com

St. MArtin: Police now investigating several robbery cases

May 12, 2009 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Law Enforcement and Crime, St. Maarten News 

PHILIPSBURG – Over the weekend of May 8th through May 10th, 5 armed robberies have been reported to the Special Robbery Unit.

The first was on Friday May 8th two men with initials M.X and F.P. both from the island of Dominica and staying on board of a cargo boat presently on the island stated that on that same morning at approximately 12.50 a.m. they were both attacked and robbed of their belongings by two unknown men outside of “Le Petit Chateau” on the Soualiga road.

One of the suspects was armed with a handgun and threatened to use it The victims were punched several times in their face and body by the attackers.

The victim M.X. took off running in the direction of the police station and tried to get away from the attackers but he was caught. Both victims were severely beaten and left behind. Their personal belongings were also taken away from them.

Then on Saturday May 9th the man with initials G.H. filed a reports stating that he was robbed of his wallet. He stated that on that same day at approximately 01.00 a.m. after having some drinks with some friends, he took a taxi to Caines drive in Dutch Quarter.

While walking through Caines drive he was suddenly approached by an unknown man who asked him for a dollar. The victim told the suspect that he had no money. The suspect then pulled out a knife and threatened to use it.

The suspect pulled the victims wallet away from him and took out the money that was in it. He also searched the victims pocket and took his cellphone away from him. The suspect then fled the scene.

On Saturday May 9th the lady with the initials X.P.C. filed an official report stating that on that same evening at approximately 09.30 p.m. after just arriving at her home in the Cole Bay area, with her family,she was attacked by two unknown armed men who were hiding in the dark.

These suspects fired several shots when the victim was attacked. The victim threw her bag over the fence into the neighbors yard to avoid any further confrontation with the suspects.

Both suspects then fled the scene taking the bag of the victim along with them. The bag contained some cash, cellular telephones, a passport I-d card and other personal belongings.

On Sunday May 10th the detectives of the Special Robbery Unit was directed to the parking lot of Border bar in Oyster pond in connection with an armed robbery.

On the scene the detectives spoke to the victims with the initials C.M.M.L. and M.D.F.P, both from Portugal. Both victims stated that they were attacked by two unknown armed men, as they were to enter their rental car.

At least two shots were fired by the suspects before being robbed of their money and other personal belongings. The robbers also too the keys to their car and took off with it.

On Sunday May 10th the lady with initials S.M.Y.K. filed an official report stating that on that same evening at approximately 11.55 p.m. while walking on the Board Walk from Lizzy’s Place to Sea Palace, she was attacked by an unknown man, who struck her with a hard object to the back of her head.

The suspect then took her waist bag (pouch) and ran away with the contents. The bag contain a small amount of cash and other personal belongings.

All of these cases are under investigation by the Special Robbery Unit.

Traffic Report
Over the weekend there were at least 9 reported traffic accidents the were handled by the Police traffic Dept. One of these accidents included a driver that was under the influence of alcohol. Three persons were slightly injured during the accident. These traffic accidents are under investigation by the Police traffic dept.

Dutch willing to assist in setting up yacht registry

PHILIPSBURG–The Netherlands is willing to assist St. Maarten in setting up a registry for big yachts. “If St. Maarten wants to, the Netherlands will assist in building up the capability for the island to register big yachts. That would be an economically interesting activity. It’s in line with the tourism activities on the island,” said Dutch Minister of Transport and Waterways Camiel Eurlings.

He met with the Executive Council when he visited St. Maarten during his five-day tour of the Netherlands Antilles. He also visited the harbour facilities and received a tour of Princess Juliana International Airport before leaving for Saba.

Eurlings is promoting in his talks on all islands the establishment of a maritime consultative body with the participation of all partners in the Kingdom. This body will give Eurlings a tool to keep the cooperation with the islands “practical” after the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles.

He said the body was necessary because there were complex matters to be solved. However, he saw the constitutional changes ahead also as an opportunity to “make each other stronger.”

Eurlings described his talks with the Executive Council yesterday as “constructive” and said they had served the purpose of his visit to the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean as the Minister of Transport.

“What we tried to do is to prepare ourselves for the new situation of two new countries St. Maarten and Curaçao, the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba for which I will be directly responsible, and Aruba.”

He also discussed with the Executive Council the possibility that the Air Traffic Control of St. Maarten could continue serving Saba and St. Eustatius in the future.

“We are satisfied with the service of the Air Traffic Control in St. Maarten. It would be inefficient if the Netherlands would have to build an Air Traffic Control for Saba and St. Eustatius. Of course, financial agreements will have to be made with St. Maarten, determined by the cost of service rendered.”

However, there are still many more questions on aviation matters that need to be answered, such as how legal aspects will be arranged in the future and how the air space can be divided. “That’s why we agreed to organise an aviation conference in Curaçao early November.” All Kingdom partners will participate in this conference.

Another topic discussed was the Meteorological Service of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Again Eurlings said he would like a practical approach for when the Netherlands starts assuming responsibility for meteorological services for the BES islands.

“The Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute KNMI will be responsible for the three islands. Also here we try to be practical. If we can avoid building a Dutch organisation, we will do so.”

He said the level of expertise of the Meteorological Service of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba was high and the Netherlands would seek to have it continue rendering service to the other islands.

However, St. Maarten criticised the quality of service it had been receiving and in this light, the Minister said he had agreed with the Executive Council that he would look into whether it would be possible to continue using the service of the meteorological office, but also guaranteeing that the organisation could really become an institution of all the islands.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

DAE cancels St. Maarten flights until November 5

October 31, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Airline News, Press Releases, St. Maarten News 

CURACAO/AIRPORT–The woes of Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) passengers have now turned into a Halloween nightmare. The airline has cancelled all its flights between St. Maarten and Curacao from yesterday until November 4. The first flight should be airborne on November 5.

Roy Mingo of airline agent Arrindell Aviation Services told The Daily Herald the airline had issued a bulletin Monday afternoon informing all travel agents and ticketing counters that one of its aircraft would be taken from Colombia to Mexico today for an engine change.

With DAE cancelling its flights many travellers wishing to move between St. Maarten and the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) had to resort to more expensive flights via Puerto Rico.

DAE’s ATR aircraft is undergoing its regular maintenance in Texas, which is taking longer than expected.

The airline has a fleet of five aircraft: three ATRs and two Fokker 100s. With these five aircraft, DAE carries out more than 210 flights per week. To guarantee punctuality, DAE fully deploys three aircraft and sometimes a fourth one, depending on the day, under normal circumstances. This means that two aircraft are on stand-by most of the time.

According to a press release from DAE, passengers who already have tickets or parts of tickets can get a refund, cash or a travel voucher. For those who accept a travel voucher, DAE will ‘throw in’ an additional 25 per cent, a refund of 125 per cent, for future travel.

Flights to and from Bogota, Colombia, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, have also been affected.

Last week’s solution of a chartered Laser aircraft from Venezuela was not possible this week because of maintenance work on that aircraft, explained DAE Managing Director Floris van Pallandt. Laser executed 42 flights for DAE, including some on the St. Maarten route. Passengers on the Sunday and Monday flights were transferred to Insel Air.

Van Pallandt stressed that aircraft were pieces of machinery that required maintenance and sometimes they broke down. This case, he added, was a typical example of “Murphy’s Law.” He reminded the public that, in the past two years, DAE had executed flights with a high rate of punctuality and with very few cancellations.

DAE apologised for the inconvenience and said it would do everything in its power to resume regular operations as soon as possible.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

Prison administrator released from custody

October 28, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Law Enforcement and Crime, St. Maarten News 

Female Pointe Blanche prison administrator E.E.R., who had been arrested on suspicion of having stolen money that belonged to inmates, was released on Thursday.

She had been in detention for a month following an investigation into the disappearance of almost NAF 200,000.

E.E.R.’s lawyer Remco Stomp told The Daily Herald on Friday that the Judge of Instruction had not seen any grounds to hold the woman in custody any longer, nor had he deemed it necessary to have her transferred to Curacao.

The woman had been detained in the police station for a month, during which period she could not take care of her two minor children.

Prosecutor Dikran Sarian had said last week that the woman would remain in the police cells until the end of the investigation, which he said should be wrapped up within a week. But according to the woman’s lawyer, no further investigation in her case had taken place.

According to Stomp, his client is not the main suspect in this case. “The one who has the final responsibility in this case is still on the loose,” Stomp said.

However, he added that his client’s release did not mean she was off the hook. She still will have to appear before a judge to stand trial. No court date has been set as yet.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

St. Maarten Coast Guard personnel take the oath

October 26, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Government & Politics, St. Maarten News 

SIMPSON BAY–The Coast Guard personnel in St. Maarten were sworn in yesterday at the Coast Guard facility in Simpson Bay.

Home Affairs Minister Roland Duncan came especially to St. Maarten for the occasion. He will be returning to Curacao today.

The oath taking is part of the personnel becoming officially Central Government civil servants. Head of Personnel and Training Brigitte Boekhoudt explained that the oath taking was a logical follow up of the implementation of the new legal status for the Coast Guard, which was finalised earlier this year.

Deputy director of the Coast Guard for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Hans Schreuder too was present at the ceremony. He said the Coast Guard has gone through an impetus growth the past years.

The Coast Guard has received new material recently and the first Dash-8 airplane in Coast Guard colours is at the Coast Guard Air Station Hato in Curacao.

Schreuder said that St. Maarten will possibly be receiving a second helicopter as well to help in its patrolling duties.

Duncan before the oath taking ceremony stressed to the personnel what the oath they were about to take meant for their integrity as civil servants and the importance of their duties serving the people of the Netherlands Antilles.

Duncan also explained that, as the Netherlands Antilles is in the process of being dismantled, he understands that the Coast Guard personnel too have to be informed about their future legal status.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

Insel Air Flight Cancelled

October 23, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Airline News, St. Maarten News, Travel and Tourism 

AIRPORT–A tired little boy hoping to travel to Curacao with his parents and sister for a relaxing weekend had his expectations dashed twice by the grounding of Insel Airs only aircraft linking St. Maarten and Curacao.

His mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the family had been booked to travel to Curacao on Insel Air on Friday, but learned when they arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) that the flight had been cancelled and alternative arrangements would be forthcoming.

After struggling for some time, the family headed home and the mother tried to obtain an update on their trip. Their next airport trip was on Saturday and again they were told the flight was not coming in and to just wait for a call.

This call never came and the family, after spending most of their weekend at PJIA, had to settle for Sunday at home. My son, as little as he is, looked at me and said, Mommy this is the second time Insel Air cant take me to Curacao, the mother said.

These four passengers were not re-accommodated aboard the Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) outbound flight to Curacao on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Roy Mingo of Arrindell Aviation, the local DAE agent, told The Daily Herald all DAE passengers booked to leave St. Maarten or travel here had been taken care of, along with those from Insel Air who could be accommodated. There were all full flights on the three days, he said.

It is not certain how long Insel Airs lone aircraft will be out of service and how passengers already booked on the flights will be accommodated.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten

Curacao and St. Maarten should use the constitutional change process to take the necessary steps towards more maturity

October 23, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Government & Politics, St. Maarten News 

~ Judge Wit tells Curacao, St. Maarten ~
WILLEMSTAD–Former judge on the Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Bob Wit says Curacao and St. Maarten should use the constitutional change process to take the necessary steps towards more maturity, instead of remaining dependent on the Netherlands.

He made his comments during a lecture at University of the Netherlands Antilles in Curacao on the occasion of the establishment the Dutch Caribbean Human Rights Committee last Thursday.

Wit, appointed as judge on the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice on June 1, 2005, said that in the negotiations for new constitutional structures, the Dutch, based on all that had gone wrong up to now, had been seeking to institutionalise some form of supervision on Antillean politicians as to their way of managing public finances, to avoid reoccurrence of the financial mess that had emerged.

Where they seem to go wrong is the way in which they apparently seek to establish that supervision, as they seem bent on taking that responsibility permanently out of our hands, Wit said in his lecture entitled Taking ownership of Human Rights towards a maturing Dutch Caribbean.

He said that, understandably, the approach of the islands had been to resist the measures of supervision as much as possible in an effort to give away as little autonomy as possible.

In Wits view, both approaches are to be deplored. Going back to the basics, we have to be mindful that this whole enterprise of constitutional restructuring should be aimed at furthering the right of self-determination for us, the Dutch Caribbean peoples.

He said that at the same time, the people should be mindful of the fact that this is not a right per se, but one that implies a duty for us to foster in a meaningful way the high ideals of democratic governance.

He said focusing only on the external outline of constitutional arrangements such as a separate status similar to that of Aruba, the islands would have achieved little because internally, and thus basically, everything would have remained the same.

Judge Wit continued: In order to mature in the big bad world of today, one needs to take responsibility for those things that matter. One cannot claim the right to stand on ones own two feet whilst staying in bed. One has to get up and stand.

The right to carry responsibility for ones own affairs, therefore, implies that one starts carrying that responsibility. Even if it were true that mother knows best, we cannot accept that mommy will take care of us to eternity.

Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten
And so, any arrangement that sees to it that the Netherlands will forever be in charge of our affairs will reduce us to eternal adolescents, pitiful creatures indeed. This would be a violation of our right to human dignity which is, I think, the most fundamental right there is.

He said that to prevent this impending violation, we have to start behaving as adults. We have to take our fate in our own hands even though, for the time being at least, we will stay within the confines of our almost imaginary Kingdom which, by the way, is still real enough to produce both limitations and benefits for us.

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