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Population Census 2022 Starts Soon.

ottleycensus17082022PHILIPSBURG:--- The Population Census 2022 is set to start soon. The population census takes place every 10 years. The last census in Sint Maarten was in 2011. Due to the pandemic, this exercise was postponed to 2021. Sint Maarten joins at least 13 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in executing the population census in 2022.

The Department of Statistics is responsible for the successful execution of the population census. Two groups of enumerators have undergone an extensive training program and by the end of September, approximately 100 enumerators will be dispatched island-wide to interview every single person in every household on Sint Maarten.

The questionnaire is quite extensive as the government of Sint Maarten tries to capture as much data as possible to answer the following questions:

• Who are we?
• How many are we?
• Where do we live?
• How do we live?

The data gathered is anonymous and confidential and no individual data will be published. Regardless of nationality, legal status, or economic situation, everyone will be counted. Aggregate data will be analyzed and reports will be generated which will give the government the necessary information that is needed by all ministries to develop policies based on actual facts from our communities.

Data gathered will be analyzed and made available to the community as well via the website of the Department of Statistics so that people can see the results of the census.
From the population census we will get information on:

• Population density
• Demographics of the population
• Immigration
• School participation rate
• Dropout rate
• Employment rate
• Health conditions of the population
• Estimate household costs
• The household income
• Transportation
• The quality of housing in neighborhoods

Some of the information that we have received so far from the pilot census that has already taken place, indicate that:

• As we suspected, we live in a society with people from varying backgrounds. We found that 32% of the people interviewed were born on Sint Maarten.
• When we look at an estimated average household cost. More analysis will be done to determine the estimated costs of particular households, looking at the vulnerable groups such as single mothers and the elderly but also looking at what is the most common family composition and what their household costs are.
• Surprisingly, the majority of the households that rent, pay less than $500 for their rent. There seems to be a direct correlation between the length of time that they are renting and the low rent, this could indicate that landlords are not increasing the rent regularly. Another interesting fact is that the less than $500 rent is paid for primarily studios or 1 bedroom units where sometimes up to 6 people live.
• The biggest source of discomfort to residents in neighborhoods are the presence of rats and other vermin such as mosquitos etc.
• Approximately 99% of all households are connected to the water and electricity grids
• 76% of the respondents consider their own health very good or good compared to their peers.
• High blood pressure (17.4%), diabetes (10%), and asthma (6.1%) were the top three noncommunicable diseases mentioned that people suffer from on Sint Maarten.
• Almost 45% use a personal vehicle to get to school
• The unemployment rate was 9.6%. This shows a decrease from December 2021 (10.8% ).

The Acting Minister of TEATT, Omar Ottley is asking everyone to cooperate with the enumerators as they come to your doors with their tablets to ask the questions. No information gathered in the census will be shared with other departments in accordance with the statistical ordinance and the ordinance on population counts.


National Risk Assessment Process Sint Maarten.

PHILIPSBURG:--- Money Laundering and terrorism financing present global threats. In the context of Sint Maarten’s position as a small international business and tourism destination with first-class electronic funds transfer and which also uses the Euro and the United States dollar, we cannot exclude ourselves from the responsibility of preventing as far as possible, the use of our jurisdiction by criminals. The continued integrity and stability of our economy and financial system should provide strong support for our growth as a nation. The converse, being infiltration by the criminal fraternity, could seriously damage these. This is a responsibility the Sint Maarten Government takes particularly seriously.
Recommendation 1 of the Financial Action Task Force, the global standard setting body against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, indicates that every country should identify, assess, and understand these risks for its economy, its system, and its governance framework.
Based on a process of assessment, further indicated as a National Risk Assessment, and abbreviated as NRA, countries should apply a risk-based approach to ensure that measures to prevent or mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing are introduced commensurate with the risks identified.
The NRA is performed at a national level and the development of this assessment and plan of action is intended to cover approximately one year and a half, ending approximately December 2023 with a final report. The results of this assessment are thus intended to assist Sint Maarten in creating a more robust framework against money laundering and terrorism financing.
A finalized National Risk Assessment will reflect the commitment by the Government of Sint Maarten to uphold the highest international standards in protecting this jurisdiction against criminal abuse. However, this NRA is not a one-time event: It is anticipated that this developed NRA in the future will need to be updated at least every four years as to be able to adapt and follow through on new and emerging trends of crimes.
A sound financial sector, a sound investment climate, and a safe Sint Maarten are of paramount importance. Sint Maarten welcomes honest entrepreneurs, investors, financial institutions, and clients. Sint Maarten however as such will not take part, actively nor passively, in concealing the source of criminal funds or in facilitating cash flows for terrorist purposes.
Central to the compilation of this NRA will be a methodological joint participatory process that will enable Sint Maarten to identify the main drivers of ML/TF risks. This process will be guided by a methodology (tool) developed by the World Bank (WB). An introductory workshop informing on the use of this WB tool was presented to the Sint Maarten main stakeholders in June of this year (2022). Besides government entities, financial institutions and other businesses will be invited to actively participate in this process and in the near future will be requested by representatives of the “Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten” (CBCS), and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), to participate in interviews, focus groups or fill out questionnaires which will be useful in finalizing this NRA.
It is important to stress the fact that for the development of this NRA, input from both public and private sector stakeholders in Sint Maarten will be vital to finalize and put into action a complete and all-encompassing national risk plan against the crimes of money laundering and terrorism financing.
In completing this exercise months from now, Sint Maarten will gain a collective understanding of the money laundering and terrorist financing risks that it faces. Through an Action Plan that will be developed alongside this NRA, we will be in a strong position to enhance the existing framework and where necessary introduce new measures to provide further protection.
Sint Maarten will also be in an enhanced position to enter the 4th round of mutual evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force which for Sint Maarten is set to initiate in 2024.

Several persons arrested over the past few weeks for being in possession of stolen vehicles.

controls16082022PHILIPSBURG:--- Over the course of the last few weeks, while carrying out targeted traffic checks, several vehicles suspected of being stolen were confiscated by the police. In the course of inspection of the vehicles, it was discovered that the VIN numbers and/or engine numbers had been modified or changed.
throughout the months of July and August, some 7 people were detained by the police because they had bought or were in possession of a car believed to have been stolen

The Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM reminds the public to avoid purchasing potentially stolen vehicles. Many stolen vehicles are resold well below their actual value. Some buyers have no idea that the vehicles were stolen until it is too late. At that point, the buyers are at a double disadvantage, because the vehicle will be confiscated, they could be arrested for being in possession of stolen goods, and monies will be lost.

Officers are busy conducting spot checks on vehicles that are mostly stolen as well as being resold on the island.

KPSM has been working together with French side counterparts to halt the vehicle thefts on the island.
Law enforcement from both sides of the island has intensifying controls on all vehicles that are presumed stolen.

 

KPSM Press Release.

 

MP Wescot-Williams highly critical of the St. Maarten government’s indifference and blatant transgressions.

sarahwescotwillliams0304201PHILIPSBURG:---  They are in serious contravention of several laws, but obviously see nothing wrong with such.”

During the first meeting of parliament following the recess, MP Wescot again denounced the government’s indifferent attitude towards the parliament and the population at large.

I had expected, after not having MPs in their hair for the entire parliamentary recess, that the government would have taken the time to address some of the burning issues that continue to hold our community in their grip, the MP explained.

“Moreover, that the government sees no urgency in getting the amended budget 2022 to parliament to cover government’s financial actions that do not have parliamentary approval by means of an amended budget, is outright illegal.”

MP Wescot: “Imagine that it was said to parliament by the government that they had the CFT’s blessing to pay out vacation allowance to civil servants, only to see this being contradicted by the State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Mrs. Van Huffelen in her reporting on the withholding of approval for liquidity assistance for the 3rd quarter 2022.”

In the view of the MP, it remains unclear how the government maneuvered the vacation allowance payout without the retraction of the law, that the government itself initiated to cut civil servants and other categories of workers’ benefits by 12.5%, but on the other hand, refuses to liaise with the subsidized entities about how these entities can also provide partial relief to their workers.

To add insult to injury, the change that the government submitted to parliament, to undo the suspension of the vacation allowance, has raised the question of equality towards all those, such as school teachers in the employ of subsidized school boards, whose benefits have also been cut and the government has not undertaken any steps to undo this law, even in part to allow the school boards, if they did not pay out vacation allowance, based on the 12.5% cut, to also pay vacation allowance.

While I have questioned in detail this show of blatant inequality between workers, these answers are yet to be provided, stated MP Wescot.

“The latest public statement, coming from the Deputy Prime Minister in this context, is that he, along with the Minister of Finance has a solution, to be divulged soon.”

Hence my statement at the opening of the meeting on Monday: “Does the government not consider that the Members of Parliament, like myself, who have raised this matter over and over again, deserve straightforward answers?

Does the government that prides itself on transparency and openness not consider the seriousness of flaunting the budget right of parliament?
The National Accountability Ordinance is clear: “Expenditures outside of the approved budget only are allowed in extreme cases, and even if so, must get parliamentary approval as soon as possible”, MP Wescot concluded.

SER advises on proposed additional 10% reduction of AOV and AWW benefits to non-residents.

Willemstad:--- The SER has issued advice to the Minister of Social Development, Labor, and Welfare (SOAW) regarding the proposal to apply an additional reduction of 10% on benefits paid under the National Ordinance General Old Age Insurance (AOV) and the National Ordinance General Widows and Orphans Insurance (AWW) which are being paid to non-residents of Curaçao. The proposed measure is a result of the government's long-standing efforts to secure the payment of old-age pensions and widows’ and orphans’ benefits in spite of the increasing deficits of these social funds.
In 2017, non-residents already had to deal with a 10% reduction in their AOV and AWW benefits. By then, the justification of this reduction was that non-residents contribute almost 30% less to the local economy compared to residents by not contributing to the General Fund for Special Medical Expenses (AVBZ), nor to the turnover tax (OB) or the Gross Added Value (VAT) of the country. With the proposed measure to again apply a reduction of 10%, an attempt is made to balance the AOV and AWW funds without increasing the National Contribution to the fund.


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