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Both entrances Middle Region road to be closed as of today

MIDDLE REGION--The Ministry of VROMI has asked that motorists take keen notice of road closures for the Middle Region and surrounding areas to facilitate the upgrading work in the district.

As of today April 4, at 9:00 am the Middle Region Road will be closed at both entrances. The second road closure will be between the intersection of Hilda B. Richardson Road and Middle Region Road. The total length of this phase is approximately 25 meters.

"We are urging the public to please read all diversion signs; the diversion route to enter Middle Region is from the Hilda B. Richardson Road onto the St. Barths Drive. The necessary safety measures have been put in place, street lights and speed bumps," a release from the Ministry explained.

"Cooperation is a key factor in this time of inconvenience to all; please drive safely and be patient, there is also a school (Sister Marie Laurence), please turn the music down as you pass in the vicinity of the school."

The main contractor will begin the physical execution of works with the removal of road surface and excavation works at the second road closure.

Mighty Dow crowned new Road March king

page5a270PHILIPSBURG--The Mighty Dow pulled away from the pack on Saturday night to win the Senior Carnival Road March title with an energetic performance, even for the stage and performing veteran. The Road March competition held in the Festival Village was held on the same night of the Band-O-Rama competition and was the last pre-Carnival event for Carnival 2011.

Dow faced off against nine other competitors and one band in the competition. Known for his calypso skills but also well-known for performances on the entertainment scene on the island, Dow had an entourage of dancers as he performed his winning song "No Money, No Work".

The Satellite Band beat three other bands and won the Band-O-Rama competition also with a lively display of music, filled with Carnival-clad revelers. The band played a mixture of older and new Carnival tunes along with the title tune "Budweiser" from Kaiso Brat. The title tune is a song that the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) mandates that each band plays for 3 to 5 minutes.

President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson thanked all the singers and bands for their participation.

"Unfortunately in competitions we can only have one winner when many did well but such is the nature of competitions. We have a veteran Road March King and as, has been the case in the past, we are proud to be able to call Dow a Monarch once again. We would like to thank everyone who participated," he said.

Compared to the high attendance of the other pre-Carnival events, the Road March competition didn't quite match up. "This show in particular will need to be studied after Carnival. We'll come up with something to boost attendance like we have with everything else so far," Johnson said.

Donner starts visit here today

 Seeks firm decision on budget 

PHILIPSBURG--Dutch Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner begins his three-day visit to St. Maarten today, Saturday. He will bring with him one strong message from the Kingdom Council of Ministers: resolve the budget issue immediately.

Donner's first official appointment is with President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell and the four faction leaders in Parliament on Sunday afternoon. Topics for discussion will be the vision for the future of the Kingdom and immigration.

Arrindell should be joined in that meeting by Members of Parliament (MPs) Romain Laville of the United People's (UP) party, Roy Marlin of the Democratic Party (DP), William Marlin of the National Alliance (NA), and Patrick Illidge (independent).

Donner will meet with Governor Eugene Holiday on Monday. They also are slated to discuss immigration matters.

The budget-focused meetings are scheduled separately on Monday afternoon with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Council of Ministers. The implementation of the plans of approach for Finance and Justice also will be on the agenda.

Donner heads back to the Netherlands on Monday evening.

Governance Council finds government unresponsive

PHILIPSBURG--The Corporate Governance Council (CGC) reported on its first year of activities on Friday by outlining the positives, negatives and what it hopes will change moving forward.

CGC Chairman Louis Duzanson lamented the fact that the council is requested to render advice on a regular basis, but can't count on government to extend common courtesy to the CGC regarding its operations.

He said the CGC continued to receive "practically no response from government to our communication." He said that while the CGC understood that much was going on in government, and this had been the case since the CGC was installed in February 2010, "we find it difficult to accept, because the modus operandi of government is not guaranteeing us that there is proper dialogue."

Duzanson said the CGC still had no office space out of which to operate out, no support organisation and no approved budget. The budgets for 2010 and 2011 have been submitted with no word from government, resulting in no member of the CGC ever being paid. He said the CGC had taken note of media reports that it would receive a start-up advance, but had yet to receive any confirmation of this or instruction about what needed to be done.

He said this was a good example of no dialogue with government. "Things that concern us are not communicated to us. We only learn of and about us from media reports," Duzanson said. "So far we've worked on goodwill and for the love of St. Maarten." He added that the CGC now had to determine how far into the future that goodwill would extend.

He also said the CGC had not received a response to the letter it had sent to the Council of Ministers and Parliament requesting certain information that would allow it to continue functioning. A plan of action also has been submitted and, although there is now cause to update the plan, no communication has been received from government on the initial plan of action.

On the positive side, Duzanson said members of the CGC had grown to know each other during the past year, to communicate well with each other, work well together and trust each other. The CGC also has adopted a code of conduct on how its members will conduct their tasks.

"We have shared this code of conduct with government and suggested it would be good practice for government-owned companies to go through the same process. We have not heard from government on this," he said.

Continuing on positive aspects, he said the CGC had been able to educate others about matters of corporate governance, had studied the legislative framework for corporate governance in government-owned companies of St. Maarten, and had studied the corporate governance code and more. The CGC also organised a seminar on corporate governance in November 2010.

He also noted that the CGC had duly "executed the duty entrusted to us and rendered the advice requested regarding proposed appointments to the boards of supervisory directors of government corporations."

He said the CGC also had rendered un-requested advice on matters of concern about government-owned companies and had met with government only three times since its installation, with the last time being in January. He said very little could be derived from that meeting, as government was good at listening, but offered very little in return to initiate dialogue.

Govt fires Roorda as Finance Dept Head

PHILIPSBURG--Finance Department Head Bastiaan "Bas" Roorda has been fired by the Council of Ministers with just about two years left on his contract. His service was terminated via a ministerial decision taken on Thursday.

Roorda confirmed his termination when contacted by The Daily Herald, but declined to state the grounds given by the ministers. However, he said he would look further into his situation and his options on Monday, preferring to "let things calm down" during the weekend.

Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, when contacted about the dismissal, confirmed that Roorda had been dismissed, but did not give any details about why the decision had been taken.

With the island's budget issues weighting heavily on government's agenda, indications are that Roorda's termination is somehow linked to that and his dealings with the CFT.

As word of the dismissal spread, there was some speculation in the community that Roorda's termination had to do with his providing information to investigators related to a probe at St. Maarten Tourist Bureau last year that resulted in two senior staff members being suspended from duty. They later returned to their jobs after a civil case.

Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh confirmed that Roorda had been questioned by detectives working on the Tourist Bureau case, but declined to provide any details concerning the nature of the questioning and the information provided by Roorda.

He said the investigations in the Tourist Bureau case were still ongoing, but given the workload at the Prosecutor's Office it was not expected that this case would be handled in court any time soon.

According to information received by this newspaper, the filing of the case was not linked to Roorda's firing.

Roorda was hired as interim Head of Finance in December 2009, by then-commissioner of finance Xavier Blackman, who had described him as a financial "heavyweight."

His appointment drew some criticism from the Netherlands at the time, because he had been involved in a legal dispute with the municipality of Valkenswaard near Eindhoven for the most part of 2009 over structures on his property constructed without the proper building permits.

The incident ignited a political firestorm for Roorda, whose VVD faction was accused of "vriendjespolitiek" (friendship politics) and unethical practices by political opponents.

At the time of the political upheaval concerning his home, he was the VVD faction leader in Valkenswaard.

The VVD party has been extremely vocal about financial reform on the islands.

Roorda was the director of his own company, Tall Tree Technology B.V., a consultancy firm that provides general financial expertise, at the time he was hired by the government.

He holds an MBA in Accounting from Institute van Ishoven and has been the financial manager of several private companies in the Netherlands, including R&S Renewable Energy Systems (financial services industry) and Zetek Power Products (renewable and environment industry).

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