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APC Bank obtains banking license.

oswineleonora15012021Willemstad:--- After an extensive preparatory process, APC Bank recently obtained a commercial banking license from the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. With this license, APC Bank can now focus on the necessary preparatory work to start operating in Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

APC Bank was founded in April 2020 and bought the shares of PSB in May. APC Bank plans to purchase the shares of CHB as well. In addition to these developments, APC Bank worked hard on its business and capitalization plans.

With the license in hand, APC Bank has initiated a communication process that will keep all stakeholders informed of developments. As a kick-off of the communication process, Mr. Oswin (Oz) Eleonora, Chairman of APC Bank’s Supervisory Board of Directors, briefed PSB and CHB employees on the recent developments in a town hall meeting held on January 15.

The community is also a key stakeholder. Therefore, you can expect to receive updates regularly. Further communication on this topic will follow.

Chris: Chairman of Parliament setting dangerous precedent.

chrisemmanuel06122020PHILIPSBURG:--- Sewing seditious behavior and interfering with civil servants executing directives is a dangerous precedent to set, says Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel in response to a circulating video of Chairman of Parliament Rolando Brison confronting economic inspectors at a nightlife establishment.

In the video, Brison is recorded chiding and questioning the inspectors for trying to close the establishment, questioning their authority and the legal basis. He further asked the inspectors if they "have a conscience" and called them "arrogant".

The fundamental problems with Brison's actions, the MP said, are many. First, as an MP and Chairman of Parliament, Brison should let and encourage citizens to use the means of protest available to them and deal with the matter the correct way with the economic affairs department and the Minister of TEATT.

"It does not matter how you feel, let the inspectors work, and let the business owner protest. If the inspectors did something wrong, then their department head and the Minister will correct that," Emmanuel said. He added that Brison's interference adds more to the speculation that government officials use their positions to influence matters in certain beneficial directions. "It was poor judgment," MP Emmanuel said.

MP Emmanuel explained that the inspectors did not even have to mention a Minister, once their management gives them instruction. The Minister does not authorize everything, management cannot be dismissed in this process. Additionally, he said, the Prime Minister and the Minister of TEATT are on record as stating that economic controls would be stepped up to ensure that businesses are adhering to the implemented COVID measures. "That alone is a general directive," the MP said.

"It could also be seen as the Minister sending him to interfere as a result of her own conflict of interest with the land upon which the establishment sits, or reportedly the MP was defending personal interests of associates doing business in the establishment which is also a conflict of interest," MP Emmanuel said.

The MP said Brison's actions could also be viewed as inciting seditious and belligerent behavior by business owners whenever the inspectors attempt to execute directives, making their jobs more difficult.

"The Chairman has the time to do this but can't find the time to call meetings and inform the people about the COHO and other changes coming to the country. This despite his coalition partner, the PM, saying she updates Parliament regularly. The Chairman has time to cheer the fall of the Dutch government on social media, but just last week remain silent when the PM said signing agreements with Holland signals a new beginning between the two countries. This government is totally detached from actual governing and improving the lives of the people of St. Maarten," MP Emmanuel said.

Now the Minister of TEATT has to provide an explanation about what exactly happened," Emmanuel said. "We are talking about the highest seat in the land. It behooves the Minister of TEATT to provide an explanation about how this situation occurred since her apparent directive was questioned," MP Emmanuel said.

Aquamania Obtains SafeSeal Recognition.

acquamarina15012021PHILIPSBURG:--- This Friday, all-around nautical activities provider Aquamania received a Gold SafeSeal recognition of best practices in protecting its customers against COVID19.
SafeSeal is an immediately recognizable emblem for companies that are verified that they adhere to strict cleanliness and hygiene guidelines to counter the COVID19 pandemic. SafeSeal standards have been devised by medical and occupational safety professionals. The methods and practices have been used to grant acknowledgment of best COVID19 prevention practices to 1700 companies in the Caribbean. For St Maarten, the checklists per sector have been validated to the published governmental guidelines on, among other often more detailed parameters.

For manager Debby Lind-Steyn, passing the specialized exam came naturally. “We have been working with strict safety measures for quite a while now. Next to the more common barriers on our counters, markings on the floor, posters, and availability of hand sanitizer, we as a nautical company of course implement extra features like constant cleaning of scuba gear, management of high traffic areas on boats, and a lowered number of visitors per voyage”. As the company provides dinners and snacks onboard, special attention is paid to that too. For example, by offering personal portions, keeping food covered until served. “Last but not least, we check all employees daily for temperature”.

The road was not easy: “It has been a difficult time embracing opening up and trying to imagine all sorts of measures and possibilities within a large company with many different locations, trips, and staff members.” What was advantageous was the average size of the vessels of Aquamania’s fleet; allowing for easy social distancing once at sea in the open air.

Lind-Steyn is supportive of the SafeSeal project, aimed at putting St. Maarten’s tourism industry’s great efforts on the map. “We praise St. Maarten for being brave and opening up to visitors and staying open despite much opposition and controversy. We have been resilient and lived up to our Irma image of #stmaartenstrong. Most guests are happy to return and enjoy the warm, fresh air, sea breezes, and healthier outdoor lifestyle before facing a winter indoors at home, and possibly more lockdowns. We have shown we are ready to receive guests and conduct ourselves responsibly.”

By highlighting best-practice companies, supporting organizations St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, the St Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association, and occupational health company Medwork want to spread the word that Sint Maarten is making its best effort to be a safe destination. More information regarding SafeSeal can be found at and travel information updates at

Council of Ministers gives greenlight for Carnival 2021 within agreed upon parameters.

govtbuilding15012021PHILIPSBURG:--- The Council of Ministers is convinced that the agreed-upon public health protocols to be implemented by the Sint Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will ensure public safety. As such, SCDF has been granted the green light to proceed with the planning and execution of Carnival 2021 on St. Maarten. This decision was taken during a Council of Ministers meeting on January 14, after taking into consideration the plans for a safe Carnival 2021, given by representatives of SDCF.

This decision was taken with the understanding that should St. Maarten’s COVID-19 situation worsen in regards to the spread of the virus and medical capacity, cancellation of Carnival 2021 can still take place. As such, the infection rate will continue to be monitored as well as the capacity of the health sector to handle any possible outbreak.

The planning and execution of Carnival 2021, will continue with strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure that all the COVID-19 health protocols are upheld during all the events and aftermath of events including all approved parades. As, such the highly anticipated Jouvert Morning parade, including jump-ups in general, will not be allowed to take place as these events pose the largest health risk in terms of COVID-19 contamination and spread.

In order to monitor the adherence of the COVID-19 health protocols put in place, SCDF will be required to submit daily updates to the Ministers of VSA and TEATT. There will be a limitation of persons attending events at the Festival Village. In the interim, SCDF will embark on an intense information and awareness campaign which will begin soon.

Government has concerns regarding the hosting of large events, however, it is expected that the infection level of the COVID-19 virus will be different during the months of March and April as a result of more intense testing which remains ongoing, and the administration of vaccines expected mid-February.

In the event St. Maarten’s medical capacity may become overburdened due to a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 active cases, which may lead to a cancellation of Carnival 2021, the Government of St. Maarten will not be held responsible for any loss of income, investments or otherwise.

All signs point to Dutch Cabinet stepping down today.


ruitecabinet15012021AMSTERDAM:--- Today the Council of Ministers will make a final decision on whether or not the entire Rutte III cabinet will step down due to the childcare allowance affair. The Ministers separately met with the leaders of their parties VVD, CDA, D66, and ChristenUnie on Thursday night and will discuss how the coalition feels about the situation in the Council of Ministers on Friday. All signs point to the government stepping down, sources in The Hague said to NOS.

In the childcare allowance affair, hundreds of parents ended up in serious financial problems after the Tax Authority wrongly labeled them fraudsters and ordered them to repay their childcare allowance. In some cases, this involved tens of thousands of euros.

A parliamentary committee of inquiry in December concluded that the Tax Authority breached the fundamentals of the rule of law in its fraud witch hunt and that affected parents faced "unprecedented injustice". The committee harshly criticized the way in which officials, judges, and Ministers handled the wrongly accused parents. Before that, the National Ombudsman said that the Tax Authority put hundreds of families in an impossible situation. And the Children's Ombudsman accused the Tax Authority of ignoring children's rights.

On Thursday, Lodewijk Asscher stepped down as the leader of the PvdA and announced that he will not be a candidate in the parliamentary elections in March. As Minister of Social Affairs and Employment between 2012 and 2017, he was a Minister while this witch hunt was happening. He said that he did not want the discussion about his role in this scandal to stand in the way of the PvdA getting a good election result in March.
Asscher's resignation puts even more pressure on the cabinet to take responsibility for the scandal. The Ministers already discussed the content of the committee's report multiple times. "The political consequences will be discussed tomorrow," Rutte said to NOS on Thursday evening as he left his office after meeting with the VVD. "I can't say anything about that in the media now."

Deputy Prime Minister Carola Schouten of ChristenUnie told the broadcaster that the "line" had been drawn in the consultation with her party. ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said that "great injustice" was done to the victims in this scandal. "We want to be accountable." D66 leader Sigrid Kaag told the broadcaster: "We are talking about this in the Council of Ministers and we are clear about it."

Political expert Ron Fresen told NOS that it is no surprise that the coalition parties are being emphatically quiet. "They don't want to split up with a fight. The fall of this cabinet must happen without problems and without arguments or clashes of arms. A kind of silent fall."

The Council of Ministers meets at the Ministry of General Affairs every Friday afternoon. How long today's meeting will take, is not clear.


Dutch Cabinet collapses over childcare allowance scandal

The Rutte III cabinet collapsed due to the childcare allowance scandal. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will offer his cabinet's resignation to King Willem-Alexander, was announced on Friday after the Council of Ministers met for 2.5 hours. The Prime Minister will soon give a press conference.

Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate is stepping down with immediate effect, and will not form part of the outgoing cabinet, which will handle the current affairs until a new cabinet is installed.

The four coalition parties agreed that as outgoing cabinet, Rutte III will remain in charge of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said before the Council of Ministers. "In this area, everything will stay the same. So there will still be a majority for the corona plans in parliament," a source close to the cabinet said to NOS.

Sources told RTL Nieuws on Friday morning that the CDA, D66, and ChristenUnie entered the Council of Ministers with the intention of withdrawing from the coalition. They were irritated by the VVD's refusal to resign the cabinet, and especially by Prime Minister Rutte's demand that the Ministers had to guarantee that their parliamentary parties would unanimously support the cabinet, the broadcaster wrote.
In the childcare allowance affair, thousands of parents ended up in serious financial problems after the Tax Authority wrongly labeled them fraudsters and ordered them to repay their childcare allowance. In some cases, this involved tens of thousands of euros. The Tax Authority used ethnic profiling in its witch hunt, with dual-nationality being one of the criteria with which potential fraudsters were selected.

In December, a parliamentary committee of inquiry presented a report stating that the involved parents faced unprecedented amounts of injustice. And that cabinets, parliaments, and even the judiciary all played a role in the suffering caused to tens of thousands of innocent parents. The committee said that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and members of the government in both the current Rutte III and previous Rutte II cabinets are all partly responsible for the brutal fraud approach that led to this scandal.

Lodewijk Asscher, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Rutte II cabinet, announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as leader of the PvdA and would not be running in the upcoming parliamentary election in March. He said he did not want discussions about his role in this scandal to stand in the way of the PvdA getting a good election result.

By announcing its resignation, the Rutte III cabinet is now officially an "outgoing cabinet". This means the cabinet resigned but remains in office until a new cabinet is chosen, because someone has to run the country. The cabinet will still deal with current cases - which here means mainly the coronavirus pandemic - but controversial or sensitive subjects will be left to the next cabinet. What is controversial or sensitive will be determined by parliament and the Senate.

"Outgoing cabinet" is a state the Dutch political system is used to dealing with, as all cabinets are "outgoing" between the parliamentary election and a new cabinet forming. The Netherlands will be holding parliamentary elections on March 17, with some polling stations opening earlier this year to allow for more social distancing during the pandemic.


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