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UP/De Weever coalition signs Governing Accord

~ Portfolios to be decided on 'collectively' ~

PHILIPSBURG--The eight Members of Parliament (MPs)-elect forming the United People's (UP) party/De Weever coalition signed their 2014-2018 Governing Accord on Friday, October 3. This accord and its attached division of portfolios for the incoming cabinet were submitted to Governor Eugene Holiday by informateurs Joseph Richardson and Marcel Gumbs last week.

Formateur UP leader MP Theo Heyliger continues his work to formalise the incoming government.

Both the Governing Accord and the Division of Portfolios documents were signed by all eight coalition members – MPs-elect Heyliger, Cornelius de Weever, Franklin Meyers, Silvio Matser, Tamara E. Leonard, Maurice A. Lake, Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Johan E. "Janchi" Leonard.

The signatories have decided to nominate candidates "collectively" for the Presidium of Parliament, Council of Ministers (including the Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague), and shareholder's representatives for all government-owned companies.

The Council of Ministers will be responsible for all matters related to decision-making regarding appointments, representation and functionaries of all government-owned companies, foundations and government entities.

For the execution of the decisions of the Council of Ministers, for the approval of the budget and financials of all government-owned companies, foundations and entities, the Council of Ministers shall appoint the Minister of Finance.

Attachés to the Dutch embassies/consulates and any other overseas entities also are to be agreed on collectively by the coalition partners.

The coalition partners have agreed in the governing accord that a governing programme will be established and ratified by Parliament as soon as it is completed. The incoming coalition plans to present the governing programme within 60 days of taking office.

The governing programme will include an action plan that will set forth the projects and programmes to be carried out as priorities of the incoming UP/De Weever Government.

In advance of the establishment of the governing programme, the eight MPs-elect agreed to give priority to the approval of the 2015 budget, arriving at decisions about the recommendations of the various integrity reports and the execution of those recommendations, establishment of the gaming control board, strengthening the National Detectives (Landsrechercheur), establishing a plan of action for the Tax Office, commencing operational audits of all government-owned companies, finalising and implementing the changes in the Civil Code that regulate short-term labour contracts and finalising the process related to execution of Article 10 of the "Uitvoeringsbesluit arbeid vreemdelingen" as approved by the Council of Ministers on August 12, 2014 (the "Counterpart Policy").

The eight MPs-elect have committed to putting all efforts, manpower and available recourse into the finalisation of the constitutional process whereby St. Maarten attained the status of country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands as to be set forth in the Kingdom Charter.

They have agreed to meet regularly to discuss any and all relevant matters that may be put on the agenda, as well as prepare decision-making of Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Any difference of opinion among the signatories will be subjected/referred to an arbitration committee of three members of the coalition, who will be appointed collectively.

FCCA Conference officially opened, picking up steam

page1a121POINTE BLANCHE--The 21st Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show was opened officially yesterday, as the conference started to pick up steam.

The previous day had seen the various exhibitors and delegates arrive and set up shop, some of them already coveted one-on-one professional meetings. The second day of the conference was much busier, with a wide array of exhibitors showcasing their products, learning about others, networking and attending special events.

The wide variety of exhibitors included many tourism boards and port authorities, plus a wide variety of businesses that have strong albeit indirect links to tourism such as locally-made food products, a recycling company and restaurant supplies.

Tourism Minister Ted Richardson, members of his Cabinet and French St. Martin Tourist Office President Jeanne Vanterpool could be seen touring the exhibitions with cruise executives and FCCA President Michele Paige, who seemed pleased with what she saw as she chatted with exhibitors and danced to steel pan music.

One highlight of the day was the panel discussion on Port and Terminal Development, moderated by Paige, which featured brief talks by Member of Parliament, United People's (UP) party leader and former Commissioner of Tourism Theo Heyliger, St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo and cruise industry experts Michael Ronan, Terry Thornton and Giora Israel.

The local and cruise representatives reflected on their relationship and the development of the harbour and destination, mostly Philipsburg. Destination development was touched on in terms of passenger expenditure, arrivals and infrastructural developments, and Heyliger was acknowledged for his role in some developments as former Tourism Commissioner.

Thornton in particular said St. Maarten had great water- and land-based tours, but importantly, there was a lot to do and experience for passengers who did not go on organised tours. "Guests are very diverse, with different needs. Satisfying some is not good enough."

Mingo touched on innovation and his change of direction as CEO of a more commercially-driven harbour.

The night ended with an outdoor dinner and a variety of entertainment, including live music, dancers and living statues.

FCCA conference commences, official opening ceremony today

~ Ministers applaud efforts, encourage customary friendliness ~

POINTE BLANCHE--The 21st Annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show commenced with yesterday's moving-in and registration of exhibitors, a session of sought-after one-on-one meetings at Port of St. Maarten's specially built conference facilities and an evening hospitality reception at The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa.

The official trade show opening ceremony takes place this afternoon and that of the conference in the evening.

The conference will welcome more than 800 guests, including many high-level cruise executives, government leaders and industry experts. St. Maarten and St. Martin will showcase the island jointly during the conference. Both sides of the island have underscored the importance and the opportunity created by the conference to showcase what the island has to offer to tourists.

The FCCA said in its newsletter yesterday that the hosting of the Caribbean's largest cruise tourism conference and trade show "will reconfirm St. Maarten's commitment to maximising cruise tourism's economic impact."

Projecting a "conservative growth rate of 20 per cent, or 105 additional cruise ship calls, would mean an extra US $67 million per year directly contributed to St. Maarten's economy," stated the FCCA. "Plus, a 20 per cent increase in cruise tourism-impacted employment would represent 1,625 more jobs with US $32 million in wages."

The last FCCA conference to take place in St. Maarten in 2003 had a strong impact on the development of the cruise line industry on the island. Passenger arrivals rose 70 per cent between 2001 and 2005 to nearly 1.5 million. "These numbers extend far beyond the cruise pier; they impact the entire economy," said the FCCA.

In a special meeting held October 2, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Ted Richardson; Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs Patricia Lourens-Philip; Finance Minister Martinus Hassink; and Council of Ministers Secretary-General Cassandra Janssen were briefed on event preparation by St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies (SHGC) Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo, Supervisory Board member Renald Williams, Chief Financial Officer Ton van Kooten and FCCA Coordinating Team chairperson Ichel Moeslikan.

Mingo briefed the ministers on the work that had gone into the realisation of the needed infrastructure for such a large conference and catering to the needs of attendees, while ensuring safety and comfort in accordance with FCCA rules and regulations. They were assured that preparations, which started two years ago, were on schedule and that measures were in place to handle any possible calamity.

The FCCA Coordinating Team said it had involved local students to assist with the event and that the local business community had shown support through a variety of sponsorship efforts.

The ministers applauded the efforts to ensure the conference would be memorable, with a long-lasting impact on the economy, a SHGC press release said.

"As awareness of the importance of cruise tourism to our local economy should be present among everyone on the island, whether directly or indirectly involved, the council requests the population to welcome the visiting guests with our customary friendliness, which provides our island with the beloved name 'St. Maarten, the Friendly Island.'"

SHGC thanked the council for government's cooperation; in particular, the tourist office, police, security, immigration and protocol.

Invitations have been sent to local government officials and businesses. Business owners/managers are reminded that registration for the Open Day on Thursday, October 9, from 8:00am to 1:00pm, which gains attendees access to the trade floor of the conference, closes tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8, at 12:00pm. Select "FCCA Registration" on

www.portofstmaarten.com and follow the instructions provided.

Holiday asks Heyliger to form Government

HARBOUR VIEW--Member of Parliament and United People's (UP) party leader Theo Heyliger, in his capacity as formateur, was requested by St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday on Monday to form a new government for the period 2014-2018.

A press release from the Governor's office said, "Having evaluated the report of the informateurs and following the consultations, the Governor met with Mr. Theo Heyliger today [Monday – Ed.] and requested him to form a new government based on a majority in Parliament and consisting of ministers who are committed to the promotion of the wellbeing of St. Maarten and dedicated to jointly execute the governing accord 2014-2018."

The Governor emphasised the importance of the strict observance of the regulatory requirements, including the screening criteria, applicable to the appointment of candidate-ministers.

The release added that the formateur had taken the commission into consideration and would inform the Governor regularly during the formation process. The Governor requested that the final report be handed in by October 20.

Holiday received the final report of informateurs Joe Richardson and Marcel Gumbs on Friday highlighting that there is a governing accord signed by eight incoming Members of St. Maarten Parliament, seven of whom are members of UP. The eighth is current Democratic Party (DP) Minister of Health Cornelius de Weever, who has entered into a coalition agreement with UP.

The signed governing accord establishes that the eight members have agreed to form a government, addresses a number of priority areas and outlines a procedure for coming to the selection of candidate-ministers and the candidate-Minister Plenipotentiary

Police shoot and arrest two suspects with gun

page1a120CUL DE SAC--Two men were shot in the legs by police while unsuccessfully attempting to escape from officers.

A report had been received that the occupants of a grey Kia with licence plate M4880 and a white Toyota Corolla with licence plate P or M 9240 had threatened someone with a firearm in St. Peters around 12:15pm Monday, a press release from the police confirmed.

When grey Kia was spotted by police on L.B. Scott Road, it was chased into the Cost-U-Less car park, where it was driven up to the bollards by the entrance to Rose's Lane, near the cricket field.

One of the two occupants pointed a gun at police officers, causing one of the officers to fire a single shot into the vehicle's side door. The men were forced to stop the vehicle by the bollards at the end of the car park. They then made off on foot towards the cricket field.

The police press release said the officers had chased the men who, whilst running, had pointed a gun at them. In response, the officers fired at the legs of the running men, resulting in both men sustaining gunshot wounds. Despite the wounds and despite having lost shoes, the men continued running, jumping over fences and through bushes, one of them dropping a firearm in the process.

At this point, the officers lost sight of the suspects. Shortly afterward, both suspects were found hiding behind a building near Dollar Store on L.B. Scott Road. The suspect B.D. (21) had gunshot wounds to his right leg and K.L. (25) had been shot in his left leg. Both suspects were arrested and treated by paramedics on the scene before being taken to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Meanwhile, at the Cost-U-Less car park, uniformed officers, detectives and forensics officers dealt with the crime scene. A number of bullet shells were left in the car park, as well as on Rose's Lane. The suspect's shoes that had been lost during the chase were still there, as well as the firearm dropped by one of the suspects.

The scene was closed off for the Forensic Department to collect evidence. The firearm, a .45 calibre Glock, was confiscated for further investigation. Traffic in the area was diverted temporarily.

After treatment at SMMC, both suspects were released into police custody, where they will remain for further investigation.

"The Police Force is working with limited resources and sometimes under extreme conditions to rid the streets of illegal firearms and other criminal activity taking place on the island. The two arrests in this case would not have been as successful without the assistance of the community," the press release stated.

"The Police Force is encouraging the community to continue calling in and giving the police information regarding any crime or criminal activity."

Anyone who has any information about the occupants of the second vehicle involved, or indeed about anyone who is in possession of any illegal firearm, is requested to contact the police station or call the anonymous tip line 9300.

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