Tuesday, Sep 23rd

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NA first public meeting Dutch Quarter tonight

At De Weever's property

PHILIPSBURG--National Alliance (NA) will hold its first public meeting at the De Weever property in Dutch Quarter starting at 8:00pm sharp tonight.

De Weever's property is located in Dutch Quarter and not Sucker Garden as incorrectly stated in today's issue of The Daily Herald.

The party says its candidates will be addressing issues that are important to the community of St. Maarten. They are expected to give insights into how NA will be "moving forward together" with the community of St. Maarten as, and after, the Island Territory attains its new status as Country within the Dutch Kingdom, effective 10-10-10.

The NA held a "public rally" last week Wednesday evening at which it launched its campaign song and introduced its candidates, who made brief introductory speeches. The song is an adapted version of Addison "Shadowman" Richardson's "Follow the white line" hit.

NA leader and Leader of Government William Marlin heads the party's slate.

Joint monetary system for Dutch Caribbean possibility

THE HAGUE--Dutch caretaker Minister of Finance Jan Kees de Jager doesn't exclude the possibility that a joint monetary system will be developed for all Dutch Caribbean islands in the future, based on the US dollar.

De Jager stated this in a letter to the Dutch First Chamber on August 17 in response to questions posed by Members of the Senate relating to the Law Monetary System for the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Members of the Socialist Party (SP) had posed numerous questions on this monetary system and also asked about preparations for a monetary and fiscal system for the future countries Curaçao and St. Maarten.

The BES islands will have the US dollar as the official currency effective January 1, 2011. Curaçao and St. Maarten haven't taken a definite decision on their currency and for now will maintain the Antillean guilder as their official currency.

Introducing the US dollar as the official currency for Curaçao and St. Maarten is under consideration. However, considering the required preparation time, these two islands won't be able to introduce a new currency before January 1, 2012, stated De Jager.

If Curaçao and St. Maarten would decide to choose a different currency than the US dollar, the new currency will be linked to the US dollar in a fixed exchange rate. The two islands will have a joint Central Bank. The Dutch Central Bank will oversee monetary affairs in the BES islands.

According to De Jager, the choice to have the US dollar as the official currency for the BES islands hasn't gone unnoticed in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and has led to reflection on these islands.

A conference was organised in August 2009 to brainstorm on the advantages and disadvantages of having the US dollar as the official currency in Curaçao and St. Maarten. Aruba's Parliament in May this year adopted a motion in which government was asked to carry out an independent research into the advantages and disadvantages of introducing the US dollar as the official currency. Aruba currently has the Aruban florin, which is linked to the US dollar, just like the Antillean guilder.

"It is possible that one joint monetary system for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom will be realised in the coming years," stated De Jager. The Minister pointed out that the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, in the future the countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are autonomous where it comes to monetary affairs.

The fiscal system of Curaçao and St. Maarten is also an autonomous affair of these islands, stated De Jager. The current Netherlands Antilles fiscal system will be maintained for the islands for now.

But, added the minister, that doesn't keep the future countries from introducing a modernised fiscal system in the future whereby the new system would have to yield sufficient revenues to cover government's expenditures.

The Law Monetary System BES islands has to be approved before October 10, when the new constitutional relations in the Kingdom go into effect and the BES islands become part of the Netherlands as public entities. The plenary handling and voting of this draft law in the First Chamber has been tentatively scheduled for September 28.

US $96,100 per month rent for new parliament building

web5f086.jpgPHILIPSBURG--Housing the first parliament of Country St. Maarten comes at a hefty price tag of US $96,100 per month for taxpayers. This will create an unnecessary burden on the people at a time when the economy is still lagging and the budget deficit is said to be almost NAf. 100 million, according to the opposition Democratic Party (DP). The building will be rented for five to eight years.

The rental of the former Caribbean Palm building was approved by the Island Council by a seven to three vote margin in the wee hours of Tuesday morning when members of the National Alliance (NA)/Heyliger coalition voted for the rental of the building and the start of internal works to create partitions and offices for the 15 members of Parliament who will be sworn in on October 10.

DP members Sarah Wescot-Williams, Roy Marlin and Leroy de Weever voted against the proposal to rent the building next to the Courthouse, owned by the Williams family. DP member Maria Buncamper-Molanus was not present for the vote.

Three floors of the four-storey building will be rented by government; the ground floor is already occupied by two stores, Facilities Management Commissioner William Marlin told the council when he presented the rental agreement Tuesday morning. The building would provide adequate housing for the "highest legislative body" on the island, he said.

The rental price is broken down into two parts: US $60,000 for the rental of the space and US $36,100 to compensate the owners for investments made to prepare the building. The monthly rent is based on square footage and the initial investment that has to be made by the owners to make the building suitable for the parliament, with at least four faction offices, meeting rooms, and separate offices for each of the 15 parliamentarians.

The most urgent parts and offices in the building will be ready in time for October 10 and the rest in January.

Government intends to reserve 30 parking spaces on Clem Labega Square for the parliamentarians, secretariat, other staff and visitors.

DP Island Councilman Roy Marlin called for an investigation to see how the Finance Department had approved the rental amount. He said that based on his experience, he didn't think this expenditure should be approved, given that government was struggling with a mounting budget deficit. He called on Chairman of the Executive Council First Acting Lt. Governor Reynold Groeneveldt to review the procedure that had been used to select the building and approve the rent.

De Weever questioned whether some deal was being cooked up by the NA-Heyliger government with the owners, who also own property at the "Foot of Town" close to the Down Street jetty, and whether someone in government would be looking to make a deal. He urged government to "make haste slowly" by shopping around for a better deal.

Commissioner Marlin refuted De Weever's claims, saying he did not know about and was not involved in anything of the sort.

DP Councilwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams questioned the urgency of approving the rental contract at this time and asked why, in her opinion, government had "slipped in" the approval of the rental contract as an agenda point after a list of some 15 organic laws. Those laws were debated and approved by the council.

The final agenda point of the Island Council meeting that started on Monday afternoon and ended about 3:10am Tuesday was the approval of the Social Charter for the civil servants. With the Island Council's unanimous approval, government can now make offers for places in the civil service apparatus of Country St. Maarten to the managers/heads and staff of the Central Government departments that have offices here.

Zaandam booted out of DP-Statia

ST. EUSTATIUS--The board of the Democratic Party (DP) of St. Eustatius voted unanimously Tuesday night to oust DP Member of Parliament Reginald Zaandam from the party.

Board President Rueben Merkman told The Daily Herald after the meeting that the decision had been taken to remove the controversial MP for three reasons, including Zaandam's decision to go against the party's policy and vote in Parliament last week Friday against amending the Kingdom Charter to pave the way for the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles.

DP-Statia is a Central Government coalition partner, but while the party was supportive of the coalition's bid to amend the Charter, Zaandam broke with the coalition and voted against the amendment, contending that Statia had voted in a referendum to remain in the Antilles and that the impending new status for the Island as a Dutch public entity was fraught with inequalities not in the best interest of the people of Statia.

Fortunately for the coalition, the two-thirds majority vote needed to approve the amendment to the Kingdom Charter was secured through the support of some members on the opposition benches.

In outlining the other reasons for ousting Zaandam from DP-Statia, Merkman explained that the Statia MP consistently had acted contrary to the DP's policies at the local level and that he was not supportive of a cooperation agreement signed recently between Statia and the Central Government.

Merkman said all seven members of the party's board had been present at last night's meeting and none had been in favour of Zaandam remaining in the party.

He said that as a result of Tuesday night's board decision, Zaandam no longer had the confidence of the party and he no longer was allowed to act or speak on behalf of DP-Statia.

This newspaper understands that while Zaandaam has been booted from the party he may, if he wishes, continue to serve as an independent member of the Parliament whose life will end on 10-10-10 with the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles.

First runner-up

page1aMiss Jamaica 2010 Yendi Phillipps competes in her Dar Be Dar swimsuit during the Miss Universe pageant swimsuit competition at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada August 23. Miss Jamaica was named first runner-up.

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