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Donner: Just stick to supervision law

THE HAGUE--The budgetary approval process shouldn't be a problem, if the Parliament of St. Maarten follows the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner stated this in response to questions posed by Member of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber Eric Lucassen of the Party for Freedom PVV.

Lucassen had posed questions on June 16, following an article in The Daily Herald dated June 7, headlined "Hiro: Amend Kingdom Law to remove second CFT approval." According to Lucassen, the report suggested that St. Maarten's Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto wanted to "curtail the controlling authority" of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT by eliminating the second approval by CFT, following approval by Parliament.

Donner had stated in his response dated July 11 that the article in the newspaper aimed at the complaint of Members of St. Maarten's Parliament that CFT had rejected a budget after it had been approved by Parliament. "This complaint was also expressed in the Parliamentary meeting," he had stated.

"This problem shouldn't have to exist, if Parliament made sure that the Council of Ministers submits a budget proposal only after approval by the CFT. If Parliament follows the criteria of the Kingdom Law, the problem shouldn't exist," stated Donner.

The minister said the Government of St. Maarten hadn't submitted a request to amend the Financial Supervision Law. Lucassen wanted to know whether Philipsburg had requested an amendment to the law in question to eliminate the second CFT approval.

South Reward to get a community centre

SOUTH REWARD--Education Minister Rhoda Arrindell is spearheading the construction of a community centre for the South Reward district, an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs.

Bids for the project, to be financed by the Government of St. Maarten, must be submitted to the office of the Ministry of VROMI's Department of New Projects Development and Planning by Wednesday, August 10, at 10:00am.

The area assigned for the community centre is in the vicinity of Milton Peters College's recently-constructed new gym. The centre will include several multipurpose rooms such as a dance theatre, sporting facilities, recreational areas, rest room facilities and office space, catering to the social needs of the densely populated area.

The aim is to create cohesion for residents of the area while making available a location where youth in the area can go to keep themselves active rather than hanging around on the street corners. The project is being coordinated by VROMI's department of New Projects Development and Planning.

Minister Wilsoe threatens to hold St. Maarten funds

CURAÇAO--Curaçao Minister of Justice Elmer Wilsoe made it a point to remind Minister of Justice Roland Duncan, in an interview with The Daily Herald on Monday, that "crime funds" due to St. Maarten were in his possession, when asked how he would take action if Minister Duncan refused to pay for inmates from St. Maarten held in Curaçao.

Wilsoe said, "First of all, the inmates we have here in Curaçao committed their crimes in St. Maarten, were arrested in St. Maarten and sentenced in St. Maarten. Now, Minister Duncan and I agreed on NAf. 180 per prisoner per day and he said, 'Oh really, that's a great deal. Fine, then.'

"Now, I was kind enough to give him six months free and I sympathised with his current prison renovation when I was there [in St. Maarten, ed.] a while back. He is blatantly reneging on his agreements. I want to keep a healthy relationship going with the minister. What I don't want to do is play games."

When asked for details of his plan of action if Minister Duncan refused to pay the fee on which they allegedly had agreed, Wilsoe said, "All I am going to say is that we have St. Maarten's crime funds in our bank, so I am sure you can see where I am going with that."

Duncan was not available for comment up to press time.

Govt reportedly owes GEBE NAf. 12 million

~ Ministers say verification needed ~

PHILIPSBURG--The government of St. Maarten allegedly owes utility company GEBE N.V. approximately NAf. 12 million in utility bills some of which date back to 2008, a well-informed source has told The Daily Herald.

However according to one minister, should one do the math, one is likely to find that the reverse is true and that GEBE in fact owes the government.

According to this newspaper's source, the electricity and water company has been trying to get government to settle its growing debt with the company via letters to the Ministry of Finance, but it has been rebuffed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that while various ministers had been deriding GEBE about financial losses, including those incurred prior to the start of the tenure of the current management, government was not living up to its obligations to settle what it owed and GEBE cannot cut off its services to government.

In an invited comment, Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto confirmed having received at least one letter from GEBE, when he stated: "The Finance Department is busy with the answering of the letter to Mr. Brooks [Managing Director of GEBE-Ed.]."

The minister continued: "Naturally we would have to check our accounts payable against GEBE's accounts receivable from government before I can make any statements regarding the outstanding [amount-Ed.], other than [that-Ed.] there seems to be a big discrepancy between the two administrations. As mentioned previously on several occasions, we are busy cleaning up a lot of 'older' payment issues, which need addressing. At the moment I have no other statement than: We are looking into the matter and will be discussing the matter internally with GEBE and not via the media."

Minister responsible for GEBE Theo Heyliger said that, when it comes to who owes what between government and GEBE, information should be given in the right context. He said he believed the amount was closer to NAf. 6 million and that GEBE still owed profit tax from 2008 and 50 per cent of the concession fee of 2011, which is payable by the quarter.

"So when you do the math, it might be that GEBE owes government," Heyliger said, adding that everything had to be verified and would be discussed with GEBE management.

Fort Louis Marina Yacht Club

Page10B047The newly-built Fort Louis Marina Yacht Club and restaurant adjacent to the marina parking area opened quietly a few weeks ago. The dining area overlooks the marina with a fine view of yachts. According to the marina's Assistant Director Hervé Dorvil, the plan is to have a grand opening in November to coincide with the start of a new yachting season. Fort Louis Marina's 10th anniversary is due to be celebrated in 2012.

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