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Emmanuel ‘asked’ to make statement

PHILIPSBURG--National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel said he was asked last week by "authorities" if he wanted to make a formal statement about being offered money to switch political parties.

He said on St. Maarten Radio Network's radio programme "The People's Voice" on Monday that he told the authorities he stood by his statements in Parliament a week ago. "I told them in Parliament I have immunity to say what I want to say."

He also told the authorities: "If you are coming to question me, that is out of the question ... if you are asking me if I am willing to make [a statement – Ed.] I said I can make a statement that I stand by what I said."

Emmanuel said "no pressure" had been imposed on him to give any statement. He is understood to have met RST officials last week Thursday.

Sarah: DP fraction of two MPs intact

PHILIPBSURG--The Democratic Party (DP) fraction comprises two Members of Parliament (MPs): Sarah Wescot-Williams and Cornelius de Weever, with De Weever serving as the party's fraction leader in Parliament. Wescot-Williams made this clear when she held her first press conference as chairperson of Parliament on Monday. "The DP fraction is in one piece."

Speaking out for the first time about the move to join the United People's (UP) party-led coalition, Wescot-Williams said she signed the "Declaration of Consent" with formateur UP leader Theo Heyliger as leader of the DP and not as an individual.

The decision to join the coalition was "not easily arrived at," Wescot-Williams said, citing that some people see the move as "a conspiracy at work." This is far from the truth as the move was discussed with the DP board, she said.

The DP membership generally accepted the move to join the coalition, while some were not in favour of it, but "respected" the leadership's decision.

The declaration was signed with the broad lines of adhering to the recommendations of the integrity reports, operational audits for all government-owned companies and the appointment of ministers collectively, among other areas. The details of the declaration are to be further worked out in a governing programme, which is already in the making.

She said the decision to take this direction was discussed with her party board, though not everyone was in favour of it. A meeting with the party's general membership was held after the declaration was signed on October 9.

So far, the DP leader said she has only received one resignation letter from a party member over the decision to join the coalition, though she had received various messages from others stating their take on the move. "Once the dust settles, we will look at the party and the way forward."

Wescot-Williams hopes the impasse with the instruction from the Kingdom Council of Ministers to Governor Eugene Holiday for an additional screening of minister candidates will be resolved soon, paving the way for the new Council of Ministers to take office.

As was said in Parliament, Wescot-Williams said her party is not against the screening of ministers as the country has regulation for this. The resistance to the instruction is based on the Dutch government getting involved in "a completely autonomous matter."

St. Maarten issues Ebola travel ban

~ For travellers from West Africa ~

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten has issued an Ebola travel ban and will deny entry or transit to persons who have travelled in the past 21 days to, from and through countries where the outbreak is not contained.

Persons who have travelled to, from or through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo will not be allowed to enter or transit St. Maarten.

The decision was made based on an advice from health officials of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA, Health Minister Cornelius de Weever said in a statement last night.

"This travel ban will also apply to persons who have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed Ebola case from affected Ebola countries. The travel ban will remain in effect until the areas and countries are declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation," De Weever said in the release.

As it relates to boats and cruise ships visiting the country, no person or persons on board a boat or ship who "fit the profile" will be allowed to come to shore.

"No passenger on the boat or ship will be allowed to come off the ship; incoming flights with suspect cases will be allowed to land, refuel and return to the country of origin," the statement said. "A person or persons returning from Ebola-affected countries that are registered in St. Maarten will be allowed to enter St. Maarten under the condition that they are quarantined for at least 21 days upon arrival."

The statement said one "cannot get Ebola easily. Ebola is not an airborne disease spread by breathing air. You can't get it through casual contact with someone. The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids (e.g. blood, bodily secretions) of someone with symptoms. The incubation period from time of infection to symptoms is two to 21 days.

The ban was put into effect "to ensure that the people of St. Maarten are protected and that the economy of the country is not impacted negatively in any form or fashion with respect to the Ebola virus disease," the statement read.

The Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The current outbreak is believed to have originated in Guinea in December 2013, the statement said. The outbreak has reached community transmission and impacts two additional countries: Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organisation declared in August 2014 that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constituted an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other countries; that the possible consequences of further international spread were particularly serious. Ebola is considered a public health emergency of international concern.

"The Government of St. Maarten has been working to put the necessary plans and protocols in place along with our stakeholders and partners, in order to protect the public health of the St. Maarten community. These plans are in line with our international obligations to the WHO with respect to international health regulations," according to the release.

The West African country of Mali reported its first confirmed case of Ebola on October 23. Senegal and Nigeria officially have been declared by the WHO as Ebola-free.

"This is a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated. The situation surrounding Ebola is fluid and one must be prepared to take the necessary measures ... to keep St. Maarten safe," the statement read.

Man shot to death in Cole Bay Mon. night

page1b136COLE BAY--A man was shot to death on Waterfront Road in Cole Bay just after 8:00pm Monday.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson told The Daily Herald residents in the area had reported hearing a gunshot and when they looked outside they had seen a man lying dead on the sidewalk on Waterfront Road in front of an apartment building.

Henson said the man had been identified and authorities were aware of his details such as his age, but he couldn't release these details as the next of kin had to be informed first.

The Daily Herald understands that the man was shot once in the head. A car was reportedly seen leaving the scene.

Minimum wage to be indexed per Jan. 2015

PHILIPSBURG--The minimum wage will be indexed from NAf. 8.56 per hour to NAf. 8.75 per hour as of January 1, 2015.

A press release issued by Labour Minister Cornelius de Weever's Cabinet stated that consultation had been held with the Social Economic Council SER, which advised in December 2012 that with De Weever's vision coupled with the minimum hourly wage policy it had been agreed to index the minimum wage annually.

The Bureau of Statistics also had indicated that the price indices for household consumption "show that the figure for the month of the preceding year changed, thus a new minimum hourly wage."

Employers were requested to take note of the indexation and have it properly adjusted on their employees' pay-slips. The minimum wage is just a baseline and should not be used for every worker, the release said.

De Weever said he was "extremely happy" to have the minimum wage indexed. The release said this was the third consecutive year De Weever had indexed the minimum wage "for workers to keep up with the rising cost of living."

The legal basis for the indexation is in article 13, paragraph 1 of the National Ordinance Minimum Wages. "I am willing to index the minimum wage as long as the economic situation allows it," De Weever said in the release.

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