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MP’s meet with Rental Tribunal.

cbuncamper08092021PHILIPSBURG:--- On Friday Parliament's Committee of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) had an interactive and informative meeting with
the Rental Tribunal pertaining to its proposals for legislative amendments.
It became clear to an independent member of parliament MP Buncamper that the current legislation does not provide for much to be done or regulated by the Rental Tribunal as the current legislation was originally prepared by and for Curacao where the housing market differs from that of St. Maarten.
In a press release, MP Buncamper stated that the current legislation dictates that the Rental Tribunal may regulate a maximum allowed rent only for properties valued up to Naf 200.000,--
while not many buildings fall within this category. The Rental Tribunal was asked to explain how it will determine the rental fee that a landlord may demand and how much consideration would be made for the varying costs incurred by landlords based on their investments and maintenance costs.
According to the MP, this raised the question of whether the government should regulate the rental fees that landlords may demand. MP Buncamper warned that although most tenants are likely to welcome this suggestion, it must be taken into account that Sint Maarten has an open market economy where the market regulates its prices based on supply and demand. Presently it appears that most privately owned rental properties and dwellings are intended for middle-high earners. Most of the privately-owned properties are owned by the person who has had to borrow the funds to do so from a financial institution and have to cover the monthly payments, insurance, and maintenance from their pockets. Because of the demand for housing, the property owner is looking, not only for affordability but mainly for profitability.
Should the supply exceed the demand, the prices will automatically drop, as charging less for rent is better than no rent at all.

During the discussion, the Rental Tribunal noted that the bulk of the cases they handle are related to tenants in the lower-income bracket. Tenants in the lower-income bracket make up a significant part of the population. They are the ones demanding more affordable housing than the market is supplying, the MP’s release stated.
The Rental Tribunal suggests that the solution to this deficit in affordable housing is probably not in regulating market prices, but rather in regulating the construction and proper maintenance of social housing, while simultaneously increasing the average income of residents by stimulating people and businesses to grow and develop without too much red tape.

The composition of representatives holding seats in the Rental Tribunal too needs to be looked into, to ensure that those holding such positions are knowledgeable of the public and private aspect of our community, the release concluded.

MP Buncamper questions the operations of SOG.

cbuncamper25022021PHILIPSBURG:--- During Friday’s meeting regarding the management of government-owned buildings under the management of SOG (Stichting Overheids Gebouwen)
independent Member of Parliament MP Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper posed several questions to the minister of general affairs, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs,
regarding the conditions and lack of repairs of several government-owned buildings.
MP Buncamper’s first focus was on the festival village, where between 8 to 12 booths that were damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 are still not repaired.
The MP questioned the loss in revenue due to these unusable booths.
MNP Buncamper also queried the outstanding amount of over 2 million US Dollars owed to a local security company for services rendered. The MP wanted to know
how long these amounts have been outstanding and when the security company started rendering security services at the festival village. The MP said that we cannot
blame the lack of payment on the pandemic. MP Buncamper questioned who signed the contract with the security company on behalf of SOG, the financial limit to which
the board members may commit the SOG to and to whom the SOG board is accountable. The accountant's report was also questioned, seeing the critical financial position of the SOG.
MP Buncamper asked how much funds were collected from the insurance, and by whom, after Hurricane Irma damaged the center in 2017, and how the funds were spent. If no insurance
funds were collected, the MP questioned, why not? MP Buncamper then turned his focus to the Fire and Ambulance department building, where the current damages that date back to 2017
affect the inside doors, leakages, the fencing, the air conditioning units, the garage doors, the generator switch, the sinking driveways that can damage the fire trucks. The MP questioned why
no repairs to these damages have been done and the costs to carry out these repairs. The MP enquired if the funds were to do the repairs were available. MP Buncamper inquired if the building
was insured and if APS has applied late payment penalties for non-payment of the loan. Have the loans from APS and OPNA for the construction of the Fire and Ambulance department building
been repaid, or is there still an outstanding amount? The MP noted that if the loan was a 15 years loan, it should be repaid in full by 2022, and queried if this is correct. The MP also queried if the
loan that was taken in 2007 for school repairs has been repaid.
In regards to the Simpson Bay fish market, MP Buncamper asked if any repairs to the building were needed and if all the spaces in the market were operational.
MP Buncamper noted that the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) submitted a proposal to take over the management and operations of the Festival Village and questioned why is
government not giving a listening ear to the SCDF. The MP questioned if any of the SOG board members have the knowledge to exploit and operate the Festival Village.
MP Buncamper went on to question who the SOG board members are, how long have they been on the board and which of them are supervisory board members and which are the executive members?
In regards to the outstanding rent from tenants, the MP enquired how many tenants have outstanding rent and how much the outstandings amount to. The MP also enquired as to
how much outstanding rent had to written off. The MP wanted to know how much rent is due to be collected monthly, broken down per building.\

Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS NV) to become hub for PostNL.

PHILIPSBURG:--- Following successful negotiations over the last few months with PostNL, Postal Services St. Maarten N.V. (PSS NV) will now function as a hub for mail transportation from the Netherlands (and vice versa) to the Caribbean Netherlands (BES Islands), specifically to the municipalities of Saba and St. Eustatius.

Interim Director of PSS N.V. Marinka Gumbs stated that she was extremely happy with the conclusion of the negotiations. She noted that this new venture truly underscores the importance and relevance of St. Maarten’s hub function and mail delivery during these times.

“We are truly honored for this opportunity afforded to us by PostNL. My team and I look forward to servicing the people of Saba and St. Eustatius”, the Interim Director stated.

Minister Ottley and Ballast Nedam International project signs SOS agreement; first job fair scheduled for December 18th 2021.

ottley06122021PHILIPSBURG:--- On Friday, December 3rd, the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley, and Ballast Nedam International’s representative Mr. Jeroen Hanneveld signed the scope of service agreement (SOS) for the Princess Juliana International Airport reconstruction project. This SOS stems from Minister Ottley’s incidental work instruction.

On September 30th, 2021 Minister Ottley signed off on a work instruction that strengthens the relationship between large-scale project owners/contractors and the Department of labour affairs. The SOS ensures that investors and/or contractors utilize the local resources to its capacity before sourcing foreign assistance. The SOS also aims to strengthen our skilled resources by identifying our country’s weak areas and offering training programs and financial investments that will turn those weaknesses into our strengths.

In this SOS, Ballest Nedam has agreed full-heartedly to support our local community. The contractor has already been communicating with the local government, NIPA, and over 13 local subcontractors.
Ballast Nedam International in collaboration with the Ministry of VSA and the Princess Juliana Airport, will also be hosting a job fair for skilled residents and local subcontractors in the relevant fields, which is scheduled to be held on Saturday, December 18th, 2021.

"I am happy to see the fruition of my incidental work instruction. We just hosted a job fair for the General Hospital with over 100 participants and now we will have the honor of hosting another job fair for the airport reconstruction project” said Ottley.
The goal is to not only put our people first but to strengthen our resources with the proper training and opportunities.

SXMNBA 5x5 Basketball Tournament.

sxmbasketball05122021PHILIPSBURG:--- The St. Maarten National Basketball Association (SXMNBA) just concluded their 5x5 Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021. With the Back Bay team winning the veteran division 58-55, and the Middle Region Saints winning the senior division 82-79 in overtime.

Michelet Dede, a player for the Veteran Division Champions Back Bay team, was awarded the title of Most Valuable Player of the SXMNBA 5x5 Basketball Tournament T1.

Dede has had an outstanding season with Back Bay, averaging 16.3 points per game in this tournament. He scored 21 points in the closeout game vs the No Limits team: Top scorer for No Limits, Alex Ferdinand scored 14 points and averaged a tournament-high 16.5 points per game in the veteran division.

Four (4) teams took part in the veteran division; BACK BAY (6-0), NO LIMITS (3-3), THE ORIGINAL RUG RATS (1-3) & DOMINICANOS (0-4).

John Gumbes player for the Senior Division Champions Middle Region Saint basketball team has been awarded the title of Most Valuable Player of the SXMNBA 5x5 Basketball Tournament T1 for his performance in the final minutes in securing his team’s victory.

Steve N. scored 20 points in the very exciting overtime closeout game vs the Slasher Bee's senior basketball team: Top scorer for the Slasher Bee's was Jurien Blijden with 18 points. Luis Polanco for the Dominicanos senior team averaged a tournament-high 19.3 points per game.

Four (4) teams took part in the senior division SLASHER BEE’S SR (3-1), SHORELINE SR (3-1), DOMINICANOS SR (1-3) & MIDDLE REGION SAINTS SR (1-3)

The SXMNBA next event will be a next 5x5 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT T2
This tournament will be featuring 4 divisions: JUNIORS 21U | SENIORS 21+ | VETERANS 38+ | SILVER 48+
There is a $30 registration fee per person (minimum 8 per team) - Team registration deadline is December 13th 2021.

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