Tuesday, Oct 06th

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Holiday: ‘No basis not to form new govt. based on new majority’

page1a119HARBOUR VIEW--A new Government can be formed in St. Maarten based on the new majority in Parliament.

This is the position of Governor Eugene Holiday, conveyed in a press release on Monday, after having concluded his consultations with parties on the recent political developments.

Holiday said that, having reviewed the correspondence received and following completion of the consultations regarding the current political developments, he had informed parties that “there is no basis not to form a new Government based on the new majority in Parliament.”

Holiday said members of the Gumbs cabinet had not yet made their positions available. He issued an appeal “to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our Constitution based on the rule of law.”

Holiday said he had received a letter from Members of Parliament (MPs) Frans Richardson, Silvio Matser and Maurice Lake on September 30 informing him that they had withdrawn their support from the United People’s (UP) party-led coalition government. He was informed on the same day just after noon that Parliament had passed a motion of no-confidence against the current Cabinet of Ministers.

Holiday said that according to article 33, second paragraph, of the Constitution of St. Maarten, if a Minister no longer has the confidence of Parliament, he shall make his position available. “It is noted that thus far the ministers have not made their positions available to the Governor,” the release said

Holiday also received a separate letter signed by the four members of the National Alliance fraction in Parliament, the Democratic Party (DP) fraction, the United St. Maarten Party (USP) fraction and MPs Matser and Lake signalling their willingness to form the next Government of St. Maarten. The letter included an attached Governing Accord, signed by the eight MPs forming the new majority coalition.

He said that following the motion of no confidence, the Council of Ministers had invoked article 59 of the Constitution and submitted to the Governor a national decree to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections.

Considering these political developments and the importance of an orderly political and constitutional process for the country, the Governor held consultations with Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, the independent MPs, Chairman of Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson and the Vice-Chairperson of the Advisory Council between September 30 and October 5.

IATA interested in airport’s Aviation Training Academy

page6a119AIRPORT/ MIAMI--The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is showing keen interest in partnering with the Princess Juliana International Airport, with its Aviation Training Academy, the airport has announced. This was revealed at a recent meeting held between an airport delegation led by Managing Director Regina LaBega and representatives of IATA’s Training and Development Institute (ITDI) upon the invitation by ITDI, at the regional office in Miami, Florida.

“ITDI expressed great interest in exploring SXM’s needs, but more importantly wanted to determine how it could be part of SXM aviation training plans through possible partnership. ITDI offers training in all areas related to the aviation industry except for the training of pilots,” the airport announced.

According to LaBega, the airport is interested in identifying training areas that would set it aside from the rest of the pack. The discussions therefore focused primarily on the excellent opportunity that presents itself due to the fact that the entire region is in need of an aviation training academy, especially in filling the void in training for the French Caribbean.

“As a multi-lingual destination, St. Maarten can fill this void,” LaBega said.

The possible partnership with IATA in establishing the Aviation Training Academy would result in St. Maarten Airport being fully endorsed by IATA and Airport Council International (ACI) as an IATA Regional Training Host. This in turn would mean that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would certify SXM Aviation Training Academy.

As an IATA Regional Training Host, the SXM Aviation Training Academy would be authorised to host IATA classroom courses on its premises, and thus be included in the global IATA classroom schedule.

The academy would also create high-skilled jobs for potential trainers and enhance business in a number of sectors, such as accommodation, car rentals, restaurants, supermarkets, etc. It would similarly attract business from the region, as trainees from across the Caribbean would be able to make use of it.

“Some European countries have also indicated that they would consider training their staff at our academy when established instead of having to do so in Miami and other areas that may be more expensive,” LaBega disclosed.

For all of this to happen, however, support and cooperation from the Civil Aviation Authority of St. Maarten would be critical, as would be the full cooperation of government.

“St. Maarten’s Civil Aviation Authority is completely on board with regard to this plan,” LaBega said.

ITDI, in its vision of becoming the global aviation-training provider of choice, offers top quality training solutions to aviation and travel professionals worldwide.

Its approach is to offer practical and relevant training for professional development in areas such as Air Navigation Services, Ground Operations, Airport Planning, Management and Operations, Cargo, Safety, Dangerous Goods Regulations, and Aviation Law amongst others.

With over 430 Global Training Partners in over 90 countries, ITDI has trained more than 95,000 students through its highly sought after Classroom, Distance Learning, Virtual Classroom and Online training courses.

General Audit Chamber issues damning audit report on BTP

page1b~ Findings alarming, significant ~


PHILIPSBURG--The General Audit Chamber says some of the findings of its Audit on Governance at Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP) are “alarming.”

The report on the audit was submitted to Parliament on Monday. The Chamber said governance kept emerging as a concern during its investigation at BTP and the discoveries supported the conduct of a governance audit at BTP.

“A number of the findings are significant, some are considered alarming. … The findings are such that the General Audit Chamber feels that significant action is needed from the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication, the Director of BTP, as well as Parliament,” the Chamber said in a press release on Monday.

“Each must take their respective responsibility to ensure compliance with the law. The argument that the country is still engaged in a build-up phase has to come to an end and those responsible have to take action, in the opinion of the General Audit Chamber.”

The General Audit Chamber said the most important, elementary forms of external and internal governance were absent at BTP. The National Ordinance BTP that governs the institution is not complied with for the most part and important documents such as the legally required performance contract, the employment regulation and the regulation governing the operations of the Supervisory Board are still not viewed as priorities.

According to the General Audit Chamber, the governance within BTP, or better stated the lack thereof, impacts the effective functioning of BTP and is one of the causes for the lower-than-projected financial transfers to Government.

“This is an undesirable situation in an organisation with significant financial interests. In the course of five years, inadequate responsibility has been exercised regarding BTP, the result of which is a myriad of significant and worrisome circumstances, most still persist to this day,” the Chamber said.

“The Minister has failed to properly fulfil his role. No vision has been provided for BTP. Legally required actions – for example approving annual budgets and formalising regulations/procedures for operations – either do not occur or, if they do, happen very late. In fact, the investigation shows that despite a succession of Ministers, there has been and continues to be little or no oversight of BTP.”

The General Audit Chamber concludes that the failure by the Minister(s) to properly and sufficiently exercise legal authority is a primary cause for the arrears in transfers from BTP to Government. In addition, the General Audit Chamber said it had been unable to establish that action was taken to comply with the National Ordinance in terms of the regulation of financial transfers.

A “temporary arrangement” has existed since 2011 to handle the financial transfers. However, it is not in accordance with the National Ordinance. The General Audit Chamber said it had not been able to determine whether questions regarding BTP had been posed during the Parliamentary debate related to St. Maarten’s budget and that of the financial statements,.

“In keeping with good governance, it is desirable that Members of Parliament are informed and can pose questions to the responsible Minister regarding an organisation with an arrears in required contributions,” the Audit Chamber said.

It said the situation in terms of oversight exercised by the Supervisory Board also was worrisome. Because of the absence of the legally required procedural regulations, procedures for management, employment regulations and the performance contract for the Director, the Board is not sufficiently equipped to supervise effectively. In addition, the General Audit Chamber discovered instances of actions by the Board that are not unequivocally legitimate.

“BTP does not operate optimally. The efficiency and effectiveness of BTP is hampered by an organisational structure that is not in proportion to the staffing. Specifically, one in four persons at BTP is a high level manager. One would expect an equally high level of expertise from such a structure, yet most projects and activities are outsourced.

“The General Audit Chamber could not find any evidence that outsourcing is conducted on the basis of a public procurement system. In a number of cases, the audit indicates that there are insufficient guarantees in place and that the perception of possible conflicts of interest is present at BTP.

“Furthermore, formal job descriptions, a performance evaluation system and other basic organisational tools necessary for proper governance, are not yet in place five years after the start of operations,” the Chamber said.

Operational cost for BTP’s 2015 budget is approximately half of income. Budgets are US dollar denominated, while annual accounting documents are drafted using guilders.

“Comparative analysis is therefore complicated because the budget must first be restated in guilders. In terms of effectiveness and efficiency, a US dollar denominated financial administration carries high banking costs. The General Audit Chamber did not receive a reasonable explanation for the choice of the US dollar,” the Chamber said.

A number of specific recommendations were presented to the Minister, the Director and the Supervisory Board. The objective is improving internal and external governance so that BTP can meet government’s expectations in terms of financial transfers.

According to the General Audit Chamber, the purpose of the audit was to provide insight into the organisation and the functioning of the governance at BTP, as well as to examine the causes for the arrears in financial transfers to Government. The investigation also looked into the uncertainties related to these transfers.

Governance relates to management, control, monitoring and accountability. The report includes findings, conclusions and recommendations related to internal governance, external governance and the effectiveness (performance) of BTP.

BTP is the telecommunication regulator for St Maarten and also is responsible for, amongst other things, the development of policy frameworks, the performance of activities, and advising the Minister of Telecommunication, Economic Affairs, Tourism, and Transport (TEATT) regarding telecommunication and postal issues.

The impetus for an audit at BTP was the growth in arrears of the financial transfers from BTP to Government, the release said. BTP collects concession and spectrum fees from telecommunication operators and other telecommunication vendors in the local market.

The report “Audit on Governance Bureau Telecommunication and Post” is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber

www.arsxm.org .

Governor Holiday concludes consultations

Governor_Holiday~No basis not to form a new government~

Harbour View – On October 5, 2015, His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten, drs. E.B. Holiday, concluded consultations regarding recent political developments.

As was communicated earlier, the Governor received a letter on September 30th, 2015, from three members of Parliament, Mr. F. Richardson, Mr. S. Matser and Mr. M. Lake, in which they informed the Governor that they withdrew their support from the present coalition government. Subsequently the Governor was informed that on September 30th, 2015, just after noon Parliament of Sint Maarten passed a motion of no-confidence against the current cabinet of ministers. According to article 33, second paragraph, of the Constitution of Sint Maarten, if a minister no longer has the confidence of the Parliament, he shall make his position available. It is noted that thus far the ministers have not made their positions available to the Governor.

The Governor also received a separate letter signed by the 4 members of the NA-fraction, the DP-fraction, the USP-fraction and members of Parliament S. Matser and M. Lake in which they informed him of their willingness to form the next government of Sint Maarten. The letter included an attached Governing Accord signed by the abovementioned 8 members of Parliament.

Moreover, following the motion of no-confidence the Council of Ministers invoked article 59 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten and submitted a national decree to call for new elections and dissolve Parliament to the Governor.

Considering these political developments and the importance of an orderly political and constitutional process for our country the Governor held consultations with the Prime-Minister, the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, the independent members of Parliament, the Chairman of Parliament and the Vice Chairperson of the Council of Advice between September 30th and October 5th, 2015.

Having reviewed the correspondence that he received and following completion of the consultations regarding the current political developments the Governor has informed parties that there is no basis not to form a new government based on the new majority in Parliament. Governor Holiday is herewith appealing to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our constitution based on the rule of law.


Load shedding

Electricity Production Unit at Power Plant Develops Technical Problem. Load shedding currently underway

PHILIPSBURG – One of the electricity production units at the NV GEBE Cay Bay Power Plant is down.  Due to the aforementioned, the company has released a load shedding schedule for Monday, 5th October.

The areas under the tentative load shedding schedule are:

1:30AM to 3:00AM PDP and part of Union Road

2:15PM to 3:45PM Saunders, Cay Hill, AJC Brouwers Road and part of LB Scott Road

3:45PM to 5:15PM Cole Bay and Almond Grove

5:15PM t0 6:45PM Airport Road

This is a TENTATIVE SCHEDULE and is subject to change. You can keep posted of any immediate changes by visiting the NV GEBE Facebook Page

Technicians at the NV GEBE Cay Bay Power Plant are working diligently to resolve the technical issues with the generator. 

NV GEBE has attempted to limit load shedding in the various districts to a minimum.

NV GEBE Managing Board apologizes to customers for the inconvenience that this interruption in service is causing. 

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