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Best ‘worried’ about situation at SMMC

PHILIPSBURG--Inspector General Dr. Earl Best says he is "worried" about the situation at St. Maarten Medical Center and believes that government and stakeholders should get together to address the issues facing the medical facility sooner rather than later.

SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek last week pointed to the dire financial straits affecting SMMC that potentially threaten the future health of the institution if not remedied soon. Klarenbeek had said SMMC was operating in the red, with its accounts some NAf. 5 million in deficit although a number of cost-cutting measures had been employed over the past year.

Best said the situation regarding specialist care and hospital care at SMMC was "very worrisome."

"We have to really look into this. We need to find as government together with the two major stakeholders – the hospital and SZV – the means to tackle the problems that we are confronting as soon as possible."

"What worries me is that nothing has changed," Best added, noting that of all the corrective measures that had been outlined as part of the intensified supervision SMMC was placed under in 2012, only between five to 10 per cent had been accomplished.

He said the medical facility usually alluded to its financial constraints when enquiries were made about implementing the other measures. "A lot still needs to be done. One of the primary things is getting specialists to work here and this goes hand-in-hand with having financial means," Best said.

He stressed that finding a solution for the issues at SMMC had to be a collaborative effort of stakeholders. "We are waiting for a new health minister and a decision from government on what they want to do. We can do a lot of things as inspectorate by law, ... but we need to work in collaboration with stakeholders, with government, SZV and the hospital."

Klarenbeek had told this newspaper that SMMC's 2012 financial report, completed recently, showed a deficit of NAf. 2.7 million. Klarenbeek said a deficit also was expected to be recorded in the 2013 and 2014 financial reports, of which the former is currently being finalised and the latter being worked on. He was unable to estimate the amount of the deficit expected without the reports being completed. The 2012 report has been sent to government.

According to Klarenbeek, the two main areas of concern when it comes to SMMC finances are the tariffs, which do not correspond with the actual rising medical cost, and the huge unpaid bills of patients who use the hospital services. The current tariffs are some 25 per cent below actual cost. However, this figure was questioned by former Health Minister and sitting Member of Parliament Cornelius de Weever.

Supermarket victim of armed robbery

MARIGOT--A supermarket on RN7 in French Quarter was the latest victim of an armed robbery on Tuesday afternoon at 5:30.

Capitaine Emmanuel Maignan stated that two youths entered the supermarket and held the cashier at gunpoint before stealing an undisclosed amount of cash and escaping on foot. He added they were not wearing masks, but used baseball caps pulled down low over their eyes.

There were no injuries. The Gendarmerie is investigating the incident.

Pledges of cooperation to new Dutch Representative

PHILIPSBURG--New Representative of the Netherlands in Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten Henk Brons was welcomed with pledges of cooperation and communication during an informal brunch at Sheer Restaurant in Philipsburg on Tuesday morning.

Hosted by acting Dutch Representative in Philipsburg Gert Versluis, the gathering also served to bid farewell to Dutch Representative Gerard van der Wulp, who served the Dutch Government in this capacity during the past three years and six months. He is now going into retirement.

Many dignitaries and government officials sat in on the brunch. Among those to welcome and bid farewell to the two Dutch Representatives, whose functions could be described as similar to those of ambassadors, were Governor Eugene Holiday, Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Minister of Finance Martin Hassink, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson, Minister of Economic Affairs, Tourism, Traffic and Communication Claret Connor, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

Also present were a number of other officials, such as President of the Social Economic Council Oldine Bryson-Pantophlet, Vice-Chairperson of the Council of Advice Mavis Brooks-Salmon, Police Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte and Vice-President of the Court of First Instance Koen Luijks.

Van der Wulp said the Dutch Representative primarily serves the interests of the government in The Hague. "But in a very special way, as we [the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean islands, Ed.] are all part of the kingdom and share a lot of the same interests."

"Sometimes this makes the talks and negotiations easy, but there are a lot of moments when this was very difficult," Van der Wulp stated. However, also during the current visit of his political "boss" Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk to St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, Van der Wulp had experienced "good talks in the interest of the people."

Van der Wulp said it was important to explain the necessity of these talks and visits, and why the job of the Government Representative is also of significance to the people in the Netherlands. "Political bosses also need to show results to their people, to their voters, so we also have to work on understanding among the people in my country," he said.

Van der Wulp thanked everyone for their "warm" cooperation and the "very small" staff at the Dutch Representative's office at the Convent Building for their support. The Dutch Government Representative has his office in Curacao, but visits Aruba and St. Maarten regularly.

Van der Wulp and his successor both have the same background as former directors-general at Dutch Government Information Service RVD. Until January 1, 2015, Henk Brons not only served Prime Minister Mark Rutte in this capacity, but also King Willem-Alexander and Princess Beatrix.

Before joining the RVD in 2002, Brons worked at the Information Department of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In this capacity he visited the islands at least 10 times, but always for a short period of one to three days. Now he will be residing in the Dutch Caribbean for "at least three years," he said.

Prime Minister Gumbs directed a few words to the coming and going man. Being Prime Minister for a month, Gumbs only met with both government officials on Monday. He thanked Van der Wulp for his input and welcomed Brons to the island.

Gumbs said Brons had a "very interesting background" and expressed his hope that Brons would use this background to express the reality of the islands directly to Dutch Prime Minister Rutte "to form a different view and understanding of the islands."

Gumbs also said Rutte should visit the islands more often to obtain first-hand information. "As I told Minister Plasterk: "Don't come for a few days, but come for a whole week and relax for a little bit and get to know the islands"," he said.

Gumbs said St. Maarten has a unique and different place in the kingdom, as it is the only island bordering with France, and therefore, with a European country, putting it in a different category than Curaçao and Aruba. "Too often we oversee that and not understand that," said Gumbs.

The Prime Minister presented a farewell gift to Van der Wulp in the form of a CD with steel band music and two bottles of Guavaberry.

Similar to Minister Plasterk on Monday, Brons was also presented with a copy of The Diary of a St. Maarten Salt Checker by Will Johnson.

Atlantis staffer stabs colleagues

CUPECOY--An argument between two members of Atlantis Casino's staff turned serious when one of the women stabbed the other several times, leaving her critically injured.

The incident took place around 4:45am Tuesday, January 20. Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson confirmed the incident and said the victim was in critical condition and had been operated on.

A security guard who intervened also received a knife wound, although he was not injured seriously, Henson confirmed.

The suspect, who was said to be from St. Maarten, later turned herself in at the police station. The injured woman, who is believed to be from the Dominican Republic, was taken to St. Maarten Medical Center, where she remains for treatment.

Henson described the scene in a late press release: "Investigating officers noticed that an altercation had indeed taken place at the entrance of the casino because of the blood evidence that was found at the location. After speaking to witnesses the officers learnt that a fight had taken place between two women."

He said the security officer had tried to come between the two women to stop them from fighting and had suffered an injury to his hand in the process.

"According to witnesses, the victim left the scene by taxi and had gone to the St. Maarten Medical Center to seek medical attention. The suspect had also left the scene," the press release continued.

"Detectives attended the scene to question witnesses and the Forensic Department collected evidence on the scene. The victim was immediately operated on and has been admitted into the hospital in critical condition. The female suspect has in the meantime turned herself in at the police [station – Ed.] and remains in custody for further investigation," the press release concluded.

Registered population up by 1,087 persons

~ 58,278 listed in Civil Registry ~

By Judy H. Fitzpatrick

PHILIPSBURG--A total of 58,278 persons were registered as living in St. Maarten at the end of 2014, figures provided by the Department of Civil Registry via the Press Secretariat show.

This number is up from the 57,191 persons who were registered in St. Maarten in 2013, Department official Kathy Snijders said. A total of 212 immigrants became Dutch citizens in 2014. More than 6,000 registered persons have dual nationality.

The biggest block of residents registered was from the former Netherlands Antilles. A total of 18,008 (9,132 men and 8,876 women) were from the former Netherlands Antilles. There were separate listings identifying 1,839 St. Maarteners (953 men and 886 women); 61 Arubans (36 men and 25 women); and 17 Curaçaoleneans (10 men and 7 women) registered at the Department after St. Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010.

A total of 1,504 persons from the Netherlands were registered (797 men and 707 women).

Some of the larger immigrant blocks registered were 6,434 persons from the Dominican Republic (2,446 men and 3,988 women); 5,065 from Haiti (3,279 men and 1,786 women); 3,391 from Guadeloupe (1,616 men and 1,775 women); 3,188 Jamaicans (1,371 men and 1,817 women); 2,526 from Dominica (1,132 men and 1,394 women); 2,453 persons from Guyana (1,786 persons from Guyana post-independence: 876 men and 910 women; and 667 from Guyana pre-independence: 335 men and 312 women); 1,962 from the United States of America and American islands (1,752 from USA: 866 men and 886 women; and 210 from American islands: 106 men and 104 women); 1,905 from India (1,230 men and 675 women); 1,575 from St. Kitts-Nevis (746 men and 829 women); 886 from France (486 men and 400 women); 878 Chinese (482 men and 396 women); 783 from Suriname (362 men and 421 women); 778 St. Lucians (423 men and 355 women); 661 Anguillians (310 men and 351 women); 451 Colombians (169 men and 282 women); and 440 from Trinidad and Tobago (232 men and 208 women).

Five unknown nationalities (2 men and 3 women) were listed. According to the figures, there were 8 persons from Algeria (4 men and 4 women); 155 Antiguans (81 men and 74 women); 31 from Antigua and Barbuda (16 men and 15 women); 29 Argentineans (16 men and 13 women); 23 Australians (14 men and 9 women); 8 persons from the Bahamas (3 men and 5 women); 125 Barbadians (67 men and 58 women); 52 from Belgium (29 men and 23 women); 4 from Belize (3 men and 1 woman); 32 Bolivians (19 men and 13 women); 19 persons from West Germany (8 men and 11 women); 23 Brazilians (11 men and 12 women); 2 from British Africa (1 man and 1 woman); 2 women from the British Indian Ocean Territory; 2 women from the British West Indies; 11 from the British Virgin Islands (5 men and 6 women); 10 from Bulgaria (5 men and 5 women); 270 Canadians (136 men and 134 women); 4 from Ceylon (2 men and 2 women); 5 Chileans (3 men and 2 women); 2 Costa Ricans (1 man and 1 woman); 23 Cubans (10 men and 13 women); 17 from Denmark (7 men and 10 women); 57 from Germany (27 men and 30 women); 11 from Ecuador (6 men and 5 women); 10 from Egypt (4 men and 6 women); 2 from Estonia (1 man and 1 woman); 2 women from Ethiopia; 197 from the Philippines (99 men and 98 women); 6 from Finland (3 men and 3 women); 10 from French Guiana (4 men and 6 women); 10 from Ghana (6 men and 4 women); 205 persons from Grenada (114 men and 91 women); 6 from Greece (3 men and 3 women); 198 from Great Britain (106 men and 92 women); 8 from Guatemala (5 men and 3 women); 6 from Honduras (2 men and 4 women); 6 from Hungary (3 men and 3 women); 47 from Hong Kong (26 men and 21 women); 15 from Ireland (11 men and 4 women); 16 from Indonesia (7 men and 16 women); 6 from Iran (3 men and 3 women); 50 from Israel (34 men and 16 women); 110 from Italy (86 men and 24 women); 38 Japanese (24 men and 14 women); 13 Yugoslavians (10 men and 3 women); 93 from Jordan (62 men and 31 women); 51 from Kuwait (31 men and 20 women); 4 from Korea (2 men and 2 women); 1 man and 1 woman from Kashmir; 35 from Lebanon (25 men and 10 women); 9 from Liberia (5 men and 4 women); 2 from Lithuania (1 man and 1 woman); 5 women from Malaysia; 37 persons from Morocco (21 men and 16 women); 18 from Martinique (7 men and 11 women); 2 from Mauritius (1 man and 1 woman); 37 from Mexico (21 men and 16 women); 96 from Montserrat (54 men and 42 women); 14 from the Dutch East Indies (7 men and 7 women); 9 from Nepal (5 men and 4 women); 2 from Nicaragua (1 man and 1 woman); 7 from New Zealand (4 men and 3 women); 52 from Nigeria (28 men and 24 women); 4 men from Norway; 9 from Austria (6 men and 3 women); 41 from Pakistan (23 men and 18 women); 5 from Palestine (3 men and 2 women); 10 from Panama (5 men and 5 women); 5 from Paraguay(3 men and 2 women); 64 from Peru (34 men and 30 women); 11 from Poland (6 men and 5 women); 10 from Portugal (2 men and 8 women): 126 from Puerto Rico (58 men and 68 women); 14 from Romania (2 men and 12 women); nine persons born in the former British colony of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla (5 men and 4 women); 4 from Saudi Arabia (1 man and 3 women); 3 from Sierra Leone (2 men and 1 woman); 20 from Singapore (10 men and 10 women); 240 from St. Vincent and the Grenadines (126 men and 114 women); 27 from the Soviet Union (4 men and 23 women); 24 from Spain (seven men and 17 women); 12 from Sri Lanka (8 men and 4 women); 13 from Syria (10 men and 3 women); 5 from Taiwan (2 men and 3 women); 2 men from Tanganyika; 8 from Thailand (5 men and 3 women); 5 from Czech Republic (post dissolution of Czechoslovakia: 3 men and 2 women); 4 from Czechoslovakia (pre-dissolution: 2 men and 2 women); 12 from Tunisia (9 men and 3 women); 51 from Turkey (33 men and 18 women); 5 from Turks and Caicos (2 men and 3 women); 3 from Uruguay (2 men and 1 woman); 186 from Venezuela (94 men and 92 women); 26 from Vietnam (11 men and 15 women); 2 women from Zambia; 83 from South Africa (49 men and 34 women); 4 from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe: 1 man and 3 women); 7 from Sweden (1 man and 6 women) and 14 from Switzerland (7 men and 7 women).

Also registered were one man each from Afghanistan, French West Africa, Kenya, Angola, Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Guam, Dutch New Guinea (now part of Indonesia), Guinea; Laos, Latvia, Hawaii, Iceland, Ivory Coast, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) , Senegal, St. Eustatius, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, South Vietnam, West Africa, East Germany, El Salvador and Zaire and one woman each from Eritrea, Belarus, British Raj (Royal India), Cayman Islands, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Cambodia, Libya, Malta, Oman and Somalia and French Cameroons (now Cameroon).

These figures only account for persons who are living on the island legally and have registered at the Department of Civil Registry. Persons who are living under the radar and are undocumented are not taken into account in these figures.

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