AIRPORT--The Dutch-French cooperation in the rebuilding of the island after monster Hurricane Irma took a very visible form on Friday when a French military Airbus A400 landed at Princess Juliana International Airport carrying medical equipment and shelter homes for St. Maarten from the Dutch Government.
HAARLEM--Thirteen St. Maarteners who have been staying at a temporary shelter in Haarlem after their evacuation to the Netherlands following Hurricane Irma are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Haarlem will not register them as residents. Authorities would rather see them return to their island, but there is nothing to go back home to, the displaced group says.
PHILIPSBURG--Philipsburg Jubilee Library will be reopening Tuesday, October 24, from 9:00am to 5:00pm, after nearly two challenging months in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Irma, which caused a lot of damage to the Library.
There is some good news on the educational front today. For one thing “Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs” (DUO) in the Netherlands announced a grace period for study debt payments by former St. Maarten students. Of course, those involved must be properly registered, but they can at least get relief from this financial obligation until December 2018.
The move will no doubt be welcomed by the professionals in question. It’s no secret that these debts are a considerable burden to many of them, partly because for years the euro rose in value compared to the US dollar to which the Antillean guilder is pegged, making for an unfavourable exchange rate.
Also positive is Tuesday’s reopening of Philipsburg Jubilee Library, despite the building having suffered substantial damage. Especially with electricity, cable television and Internet still not available everywhere, being able to access reading materials is a great necessity.
What’s more, the facility has an Internet Café and DVDs visitors can use there. Outreach services like book boxes for day-care centres and afterschool programmes as well as puppet theatre and reading activities are resuming too.
Touching was the report about Saba’s Queen Wilhelmina Library holding a bake and food sale to benefit St. Maarten’s library. It shows that while perhaps constitutionally a bit further apart since 10-10-10, ties between the two islands remain strong.
In addition, donations to aid local schools, pupils and their parents continue, as for example seen in stories about 1,000 composition books and other learning materials supplied by Office World and the initiative of a student in the Netherlands. Various similar contributions have been made since the passage of Hurricane Irma, not in the last place three pavilion tents to house 36 classrooms and school furniture brought in by Dutch navy ship Karel Doorman on October 1 paid for with European Union (EU) funds.
Unfortunately, there is also some bad news at University of St. Martin, where President Francio Guadeloupe tendered his resignation after having earlier warned that closure would be imminent without a significant subsidy increase.
Hopefully, a solution can be found for that situation, because it’s the island’s only institution of higher learning. The importance of education, particularly in times of relative economic uncertainty, shouldn’t be underestimated.
All in all, despite having to miss close to a month of classes, it appears that – with a little help – most schools are quickly getting back on track.
Today’s report that JetBlue is resuming service from New York to Princess Juliana International Airport SXM per November 1 is obviously most welcome. After all, the Northeastern seaboard of the US has always been the destination’s prime source market.
That the flights will be only twice-weekly for now is completely understandable under the present circumstances. After Christmas is actually when the high season really takes off, so going back to daily service in January seems sensible enough.
The flights are also direct, which is important for tourism. Visitors usually don’t like to have to stop or – worse – change planes in other places, especially if they’re going on holiday.
The American carrier also still intends to launch a connection from Fort Lauderdale. This would greatly enhance travel options for that and other parts of the US as well.
The good news comes after KLM announced it would not return to St. Maarten on October 29 as planned (see Thursday paper), but rather November 12. Many were disappointed, but it apparently has to do with SXM currently not yet being quite able to handle wide-body jets like the ones used by both KLM and Air France.
In general, the recovery of airlift appears to be progressing in a satisfactory manner, considering what the island has been through. That is crucial to getting the economy going again and those involved deserve credit for a job well done in making it happen.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana--“The decision of the President to act unilaterally and independently of the submissions of the Leader of the Opposition poses a clear threat to democracy and will inevitably divide the nation and lead to economic instability. It is a dangerous decision.”
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--Minister of Industry and International Business Donville Inniss says his Ministry is in the process of revoking the international business licences of four international business companies in Barbados, as he urged regulators who have concerns with any of their clients to have those clarified quickly or “dump them.”
PARIS--L'Oreal, the world's biggest cosmetics company wants to see more beauty tech like sensory hair brushes that tell you how to care for your hair, and skin patches that let you know how much sun you are getting.
LONDON--Adidas has launched the first of six planned city-themed running shoe models in London as it capitalises on its first Speedfactory, which it has opened in Germany and equipped with time-saving robotics.
HAVANA--Cuba unveiled a replica of a New York statue of independence hero Jose Marti on Friday, putting a gift from the hometown of U.S. President Donald Trump on public display at a time of heightened U.S.-Cuba tensions.
LONDON--From a Somali man who carried his paralysed brother across the desert and the sea, to a Syrian father who had to let his son drown to save his wife and baby daughter, a new book seeks to highlight the plight of boat migrants reaching Europe.
LONDON--After graduating from the prestigious Stanford University, Andrea Chen was shocked when she started teaching in New Orleans: seventeen-year-olds couldn't spell the word 'dog' and were on edge a year after a gunman burst into their school and shot four students.
WASHINGTON--When Donald Trump faced criticism from advocacy groups for not including more women and minorities in his cabinet last January, the incoming administration promised that the lower rungs of the bureaucracy would ultimately look more diverse.
LIMA--Wedged between the rubbish-choked Rimac river and lanes of traffic belching fumes, the Cantagallo slum in downtown Lima is a far cry from the Amazon rainforest land that the Shipibo-Konibo people were forced to flee two decades ago. Hundreds of families belonging to the Peruvian indigenous group make their home in this gritty wasteland just a few blocks from the capital's main square.
MEXICO CITY—Reuters first visited Camp No. 3 a few days after the Sept. 19 earthquake.
After reporting from collapsed buildings around the city, this was a different type of shock. Row after row of tiny tin shacks crammed into a small lot hidden behind a high fence in the middle class neighbourhood of Lindavista.
AUSTIN, Texas- - Formula One title favourite Lewis Hamilton shattered the Circuit of the Americas track record on Friday as he dominated practice for a U.S. Grand Prix that could bring him a fourth world championship.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor (rear) scores a run past Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) in the first inning in game five of the 2017 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Dodgers won 11-1 to win the best of seven game series 4-1. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports.)
I have a boy friend (not “boyfriend”) who is gay. One time he saw another boy he thought was interesting and asked me if I knew whether that boy is gay. I asked a friend of the other boy and he said no, the other boy is as straight as they come.
My problem is that now I have got to know the other boy I got to like him and when he asked me for a date I would have said “yes” if my boy friend wasn’t interested in him.
Queenie, would it be okay for me to go out with that other boy?—Undecided
I do not think the “girl code” applies in this case. Because the other boy is straight there is no chance whatsoever that he will ever be interested in your gay friend in that way. However, it might be a good idea to ask your gay friend how he would feel about it before you decide.
Fraud and corruption, it seems to be in the genes of KPMG. Even the construction of their own headquarters in Amstelveen was a fraudulent affair, one that involved millions of euros. KPMG offers its clients customised work. That can be messing with the books, such as with the Vestia housing corporation, or misleading numbers at the now bankrupt, Imtech; Foreign bribes (Ballast Nedam) and the payment of bribes (SBM Offshore) or large-scale fraud (as in Weyl meat processor).
As a rule, the accountant comes away with a settlement, which never teaches them a true lesson. Also in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, I constantly come across KPMG when a business fails financially; even recently, when we had to pull the plug from the new population register in the Netherlands. A terribly expensive ICT project, 100 million euros was discarded, under the supervision of KPMG. The company can provide financial advice and carry out all kinds of constructions. In fact, KPMG can even do research on fraud!
All of those different tasks are at odds with one another, especially in the Caribbean, where I often encounter KPMG's name in scandals. We must now prevent this company from having a role in the economic reconstruction of St. Maarten.
St. Maarten’s gambling boss Francesco Corallo is currently in custody in Italy, where he is suspected of bribing influential politicians surrounding former Prime Minister Berlusconi. The accountant of Corallo was KPMG. This bribery of politicians took place via Fortis Bank, which was controlled by KPMG again. The fact that the accountant seems to do the books of all kinds of gambling bosses is not surprising. KPMG also plays an important role in many government companies on the islands; also at the Curaçao telecom company UTS.
This makes illegal gambling possible worldwide, with a lot of criminal money being laundered. A very large insurance company on the islands is ENNIA, where many people have a mortgage, a pension, health insurance or insurances for damages. Iranian oil billionaire Hushang Ansary just took hundreds of millions of euros out of the company, the Dutch media reported. ENNIA is controlled by KPMG.
The influence of KPMG on St. Maarten and Curaçao is great, in the financial and legal world, but also in politics. These worlds seem connected through shady networks. Regularly I hear of the ‘Grupo Sopi’ (soup group), founded by KPMG people, where bankers and supervisors supposedly do business with politicians over a bowl of soup. Sometimes we tend to forget that KPMG is an accountancy business. This is a company that has to check annual accounts in order to prevent fraud and corruption.
In real life, it seems to be a company that would like to appeal to criminals. On the initiative of the SP and the VVD parties a few years ago, an investigation has been launched into the connection between the upper world and the criminal world on St. Maarten and Curaçao, especially between politics and the (illegal) gambling industry. The new Dutch Government has decided to continue that research in the coming years and to provide a great deal of resources and means.
I fear that we will encounter the name KPMG more often in those investigations. The accountant, of course, also has the task of investigating possible maladministration in his own company, but I never hear anything about that. If I was a Commissioner of KPMG, I would not rest before all the criminals left the company. Unfortunately, I am not a Commissioner of KPMG. Laetitia Griffith (VVD) and Jolande Sap (GroenLinks) are. I would like to appeal to these former colleagues to break the silence and to seriously investigate.
The Dutch Government is currently working on a 100 million euros reconstruction fund for St. Maarten. Consultants have undoubtedly already set their eyes on this fund. It probably has the attention of KPMG which of course would like to be involved in such projects. But we should not do that this time. The Dutch Government puts high demands on the integrity of members of the local government to prevent the money falling into the wrong hands. So I think a boycott of KPMG is in place.
Ronald van Raak is a Member of the Second Chamber for the Socialist Party (SP)
His columns, including this one, are regularly published on ThePostOnline.