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Unions submitted counter proposal to government.

chamberunions28052020PHILIPSBURG:--- The Unified unions of Sint Maarten submitted today Thursday, May 28, 2020, a counter-proposal to the Council of Minister regarding the 12.5% cuts on personnel salaries, vacation allowance, etc.

In its counterproposal the unions are requesting the following:
1. 100% vacation allowance pay for 2020 (Unions are willing to negotiate a 50% of the Cost of Living Adjustment from 2012-2019 pending the outcome of St. Maarten’s economic performance and Government’s financial position during said period 2021-2022);
2. A poverty line study to be initiated in collaboration with USM and the Consumer’s coalition by July 1st 2020 to establish the actual poverty level on St. Maarten;
3. Implementation of a new/broadened Basket of Goods decree by July 1st 2020 that consists at least of maximum prices for basic goods such as (food, internet, water, rent, electricity, phone bill, etc):
4. Lower the cost of basic needs by at least 12.5% by July 1st 2020 until further notice (food, internet, water, rent, electricity, phone bill, etc);
5. Accelerate placement process of the Police before July 1st 2020;
6. Initiate implementation of an Economic stimulus plan by July 1st 2020;
7. Increase the fees for directors from Naf 500 to Naf1000;
8. See counter proposal submitted on May 14th, 2020 for further possible cuts.

The Unified unions are demanding that a Poverty line study is conducted as soon as possible and the cost of living on Sint Maarten is reduced immediately by 12.5% to ensure all citizens of Sint Maarten, in particular our brothers and sisters in the private sector too can receive relief.

MP Buncamper submits questions to chair of parliament.

claudiusbuncamper18042020PHILIPSBURG:--- Through his letter dated May 27th, 2020 to the President of Parliament, MP Rolando Brison, Member of Parliament Claudius Buncamper submitted a number of questions to the Minister of Finance, Ardwell Arion. The questions come as a result of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten's (CBCS) decision in March 2020 to place a stoppage to funds in excess of NAF 150.000,= leaving the country at once.
In his letter to the minister of Finance, the MP expressed his concerns in regards to the effects the current remittances of funds being sent to family members abroad via the local banks and money agencies will have on the SSRP program.
The MP further queried if it is "fair practice" to allow monies to leave the country during this economic crisis, which will affect our foreign reserves. Thirdly, the MP asked if any measures will be taken to minimize or to prevent foreign exchange transactions related to family remittances from leaving the country at this time until further notice.
MP Buncamper perceives this to be an urgent matter and would, therefore, appreciate receiving the Minister's response no later than Friday, May 29th, 2020.

Click here to read letter submitted to Chair of Parliament Rolando Brison.

BREAKING NEWS: Civil Servants begins protest action to vacation pay cuts.

strike28052020PHILIPSBURG:--- Scores of Civil Servants including police officers turned up at the Government Administration Building to protest the proposed cut in vacation pay for the years 2020 and 2021.The Chamber of Labor Unions already indicated to the Government of St. Maarten that they were not going to accept cuts in their salaries and or vacation pay to meet the demanded cuts laid down by the Dutch Government.
Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion gave the unions his last proposal on Monday where he indicated that the government of St. Maarten will not cut salaries and that the only cuts civil servants will face are the proposed 50% in the vacation pay of 2020 and 2021.
The unions were supposed to present a counter-proposal to the Minister of Finance today but instead, their members marched to the Government Administration Building where they are currently protesting.
The protest it is understood was sparked due to the letter sent by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Tuesday.
Some teachers who are not part of the Windward Islands Teachers Union already indicated that they were going to accept the proposed cuts in their vacation pay.

Click here to view the letter sent to Civil Servants.



The Scourge of EU Blacklisting.

Castries, Saint Lucia:--- Some have long viewed the Caribbean as a true paradise for vacationers and tax evaders alike. As it relates to the latter, there have been tremendous efforts at the national and regional levels to change this unwarranted narrative. Yet, as a region, we seem to be locked into a perpetual dance with the European Union (EU), being called off and back on to the dancefloor of the proverbial “blacklist.”

In the most recent developments, as reported by Reuters on May 05, 2020 and later confirmed within the EU Amended Delegated Regulation document, the EU intends to add three Caribbean jurisdictions, namely The Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados, to their money laundering list. These recent additions to the EU blacklist are largely due to a revision of the methodology used by the EU to identify high-risk third countries. This news has understandably generated much discussion, given that many banks and financial institutions within the region are still managing the effects of the loss of key correspondent banking relationships as a result of de-risking over the period 2015 - 2018.

Moreover, in the case of the Bahamas and Barbados the efforts made to become AML and CFT compliant cannot be overlooked. In fact, both nations were recently commended for the significant strides made in this regard. It is especially disheartening to note, that the EU has made the decision to add the Bahamas to the blacklist while acknowledging that this nation was in the final stage of the FATF process to be delisted which has been unavoidably delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the only step missing for the Bahamas to be cleared by the FATF.

Consequently, the current position taken by the EU is both unanticipated and unwarranted. While the effective date of this amended blacklist is 1st October 2020, given the current Covid-19 climate, the timing of this EU report will likely further exacerbate the significant challenges being faced by the region’s banking and financial services industry at present.

Therefore, this latest decision by the EU warrants clear and concise justification and brings to the forefront the challenge faced by many Caribbean islands wherein the goalpost seems to be continuously changing.

The Caribbean Association of Banks remains resolute in our position that decision makers must be forth coming with the requirements of the region in an effort to meet the demands being placed on our economies when these “blacklists” are published. The further implications to Correspondent Banking and International trade cannot be denied. It is noteworthy that we do recognize the effects of building strict and relevant compliance practices and policies, in an effort at keeping our delicate economies safe and as such we also have a vested interest in ensuring that we maintain the regulations that are developed and legislated. We are eager to work alongside stakeholders and maintain that in order to work together effectively and efficiently, we must maintain healthy, open and honest dialogue, which suggests understanding and an effort to ensure inclusivity as opposed to what appears to be a new era of exclusion.


Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and St. Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club Partner in Joint Meeting.

toastmasters28052020PHILIPSBURG:---  On Monday, May 25, 2020, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and the St. Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club held their first-ever joint club meeting via the popular online platform, Zoom, with over 140 participants from around the world.

In January 2020, Toastmasters International and Rotary International entered a strategic alliance that would provide their members with even more opportunities to develop and improve their leadership and communication skills and to help members make a difference in their communities. The ongoing relationship between the two organizations will begin at the grassroots level with local club members learning and working together.

Rotary and Toastmasters clubs are encouraged to work together and to build closer bonds by conducting joint initiatives. The joint meeting with the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and the St. Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club was the very first of its kind on the island, within the region and throughout the world. This historic meeting took the format similar to a regular Toastmasters club meeting; whereby four prepared speeches were delivered as well as five impromptu speeches from persons in the audience.

Two members from the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and two members from the St. Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club delivered four dynamic speeches. Toastmasters Glennicia Rodgers and Audrey Claxton presented separate speeches from their different Pathway paths entitled “I’m communicating” and “I am”. Rotarian / Toastmaster Akilah Dormoy presented her very first speech as a toastmaster entitled “Fear” and Rotarian Georginette Lake delivered a dynamic speech entitled “Love Beyond Borders”.

Rotarian Franklyn, who held the role of “Table Topics Master” kept the audience engaged throughout the impromptu segment of the meeting, by randomly posing various questions to those in participation. As the meeting came to a close, Presidents from both clubs, Ms. Jaida Nisbett and Ms. Anne Karine Fleming encouraged Rotarians and Toastmasters in attendance to embrace the new alliance between both organizations, by attending each other’s club meetings and even join Toastmasters or Rotary. The success of this joint meeting echoed the theme of the night “Beyond Borders” as both organizations displayed that there is certainly no border between French and Dutch side organizations.

Both clubs would like to extend a special congratulations to Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Vernicia Brooks and Rotarian President-Elect Elisia Lake for their hard work in organizing and coordinating the meeting and a special thank you to all role players for the evening.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at 7:30 pm. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at The St Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club meets every first and third Tuesday of the month from 7:15 pm until 9 pm. The club can be contacted via the official Facebook page at St Martin Evolution Toastmasters Club.

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