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Wanted suspect arrested with gun

MADAME ESTATE--A 26-year-old man was arrested for handling stolen goods and possession of a firearm, a police report states.

A Philipsburg police patrol was informed on Thursday, October 2, around 6:00pm that the man J.F., for whom an arrest warrant had been issued, had been seen driving a silver-coloured vehicle in the vicinity of Madame Estate.

The patrol managed to locate and arrest J.F., who is known by police to carry a firearm. When he saw officers approach, he jumped out of the car and made off on foot. The officers chased him through the Over the Pond area and arrested him on A.Th. Illidge Road after a short chase.

The suspect resisted strenuously during his arrest, but soon was placed in handcuffs. A .40 calibre pistol was found on his person during a search and was confiscated for further investigation. J.F. was taken to the Philipsburg police station where he remains in custody.

Casino licences for harbour, airport have Bosman worried

THE HAGUE--Plans to construct a casino at the airport and the harbour in St. Maarten have Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party very worried.

Bosman submitted written questions to Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on Thursday in response to media reports stating that St. Maarten had expanded its casino policy in order to grant four additional casino licences. The Harbour Group of Companies and Princess Juliana International Airport SXM already have submitted applications for casino licences.

Bosman asked Plasterk how in "God's name it was possible" that permits were being granted while there is a moratorium on the issuing of casino and lottery permits. He was especially critical of the harbour. "Does the minister share our impression that this might concern a possible attempt of the Harbour Group of Companies to launder money via the casino?"

The Member of Parliament (MP) referred to the Integrity Inquiry Report of PricewaterhouseCoopers that was ordered by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. He asked Minister Plasterk whether he agreed with the report's conclusions that government-owned companies including the Harbour Group of Companies didn't worry with integrity and transparency regulations. He asked how the permit for a casino related to the report.

Bosman asked the minister why the finances of the Harbour Group of Companies were being kept secret, and what was being done to tackle corruption and crime at government-owned companies. "Do you share the view that the situation on the island is very serious and that there is no sense of integrity?"

The MP suggested that it was time to give St. Maarten an instruction based on article 43 sub 2 of the Kingdom Charter, the so-called guarantee function, since "apparently" no measures were being taken by the St. Maarten Government to address the issue.

He asked the minister whether he agreed with the VVD that as long as there was no transparency at the government-owned companies, especially the harbour and airport, these companies should never be able to obtain a loan.

Bosman said in an additional remark, also referring to the press statement of the United People's (UP) party about the meddling by members of the Second Chamber, that he had every right to get involved in St. Maarten matters since good governance ultimately was a responsibility of the Kingdom.

The MP told The Daily Herald that he was worried that if Theo Heyliger would actually become Prime Minister that he would be representing the Dutch Kingdom in the exterior like the United Nations. This was not a good thing for someone who has been associated with vote-buying.

Governor Holiday receives final report of informateurs

page1b118HARBOUR VIEW--St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday received the final report of the current information process from informateurs Joe Richardson and Marcel Gumbs on Friday.

The informateurs presented the Governor with a 2014-2018 governing accord signed by eight incoming Members of St. Maarten Parliament, seven of whom are members of the United People's (UP) party. 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.

Governor Holiday thanked the informateurs for the execution of their assignment. He will evaluate the report and will consider the assignment of a formateur.

Plasterk pledges to work on dispute arrangement

THE HAGUE--Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on Wednesday promised the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to work on a dispute arrangement ("geschillenregeling") for the Kingdom.

Plasterk did so during the handling of the draft 2015 Kingdom Relations budget, on the insistence of the Democratic Party D66, the Christian Democratic Party CDA and the ChristianUnion (CU).

Plasterk said that he would try to reach a consensus with all four countries in the Kingdom before the next Kingdom Conference which takes place in Curaçao in April 2015. He admitted that a consensus needed to be reached in order to comply with article 12a of the Kingdom Charter which mentions a dispute arrangement.

The Dutch Caribbean Parliaments earlier this year approved a joint motion demanding a dispute arrangement. In 2010, the Second Chamber supported a motion of Aruba Members of Parliament Rene Herdé and Juan Yrausquin to set up such an arrangement soon.

Member of the Second Chamber Wassila Hachchi (D66) brought forward the issue of a dispute arrangement several times during the Kingdom Relations budget handling on Wednesday. "The disputes with Aruba and St. Maarten have shown that we can't wait forever with the establishing of an arrangement. "We need tempo."

Member of Parliament (MP) Gert-Jan Segers (CU) asked the minister to look at the possibility of an Arbitrary Court or a special Chamber at the Council of State. "The form is not so important, as long as the countries within the Kingdom have a place where they can present their grievances and put forward their conflict to independent judges that will look at the matter with a more objective view than the Kingdom Council of Ministers," he said.

Wassila Hachchi asked the minister to assume a more active role in maintaining better relations in the Kingdom. She said that the pressure on the relations between The Hague and the islands has grown. She said Plasterk appeared to be Minister of Kingdom Fights instead of a Minister of Kingdom Relations who tried to solve matters together with the islands.

MP André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party wasn't too enthusiastic about a dispute arrangement, especially not one in which the four countries have an equal say. "This is how I see it: a seat division with one seat for St. Maarten, two seats for Aruba, three for Curaçao and 334 for the Netherlands."

According to Bosman, the four countries are not equal simply because of their interests and population size. "The interests are different. That is something that we all need to be aware of. We agree that there are four autonomous countries in the Kingdom, but Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have the idea that we all have the same interests. That can never be. You have the interests of 16 million people in the Netherlands and the interests of 40,000 St. Maarteners. There is a big difference," he said.

Unions against issuing of additional casino licences

PHILIPSBURG--The Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) is against the issuing of additional casino licences and has expressed concern about caretaker Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ted Richardson's move to expand the policy.

WICLU member Theophilus Thompson said there had been a moratorium on the issuing of casino licences and regulations regarding casinos attached to hotels. The union is worried if this is going to be changed. He alluded to reports from several years ago showing that the majority of patrons in casinos were locals.

"When you find more locals in the casino that is a serious problem," Thompson said. He said destinations such as the Bahamas had taken measures to limit their local population from patronising casinos.

He said the policy should not be enacted unless a "realistic survey" was conducted to determine the impact the new casinos would have on the economy and to determine the ratio of local versus tourist patrons in casinos on the island. He said the union was against the policy until it could see proof that the expansion of and granting of additional licences would be viable for the country.

Richardson expanded the casino policy to grant four additional casino licences – two for land-based casinos and two for vessels. The licences will go to the Harbour Group of Companies and Princess Juliana International Airport SXM, and the casinos are not expected to be accessible to the resident population, only tourists at these two ports of entry.

He said the policy review process had started when he had received a request from SXM Airport in October 2013 about the possibility for the airport to have a licence to operate a casino facility in the departure hall, after the immigration and security checkpoints.

Consultation and discussions with the relevant departments started then, to see how such a request could be handled. After several rounds of consultation, the department submitted in June a first draft of the policy amendment that would give the possibility to allow the harbour and the airport the possibility to apply for casino licences.

In the case of the harbour, he said this was in keeping with its drive to offer additional activities to cruise visitors, especially to the ones who do not leave the ships. The harbour also discussed the possibility to have a small entertainment vessel with limited seats to offer tours to the cruise visitors.

The new policy will go into effect after its publication.

Thompson is also President of the Workers Institute for Organised Labour (WIFOL).

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