PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On Monday 13th March, 2017 the Minister of Finance from Sint Maarten, the Honorable Richard Gibson Sr. met with the Minister of Finance from Curacao, the Honorable Kenneth Gijsbertha to discuss vital financial matters that affect both Sint Maarten and Curacao.
Some topics addressed during this meeting were: the management of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS), the de-risking trends within our financial institutions, the division of assets of the former Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten and Curacao’s possible participation with the pilot project organized by the United States and the upcoming IMF Meeting in Washington, to take place in April of this year.
The meeting further centered around the plan of approach to finalize and address other pending financial matters and to ascertain a continued working relationship between both Governments.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On March 1st, Minister of Finance Richard Gibson met with Mr. Julian Lopez Ramirez, Managing Partner and Tax Partner of Deloitte in the Dutch Caribbean, to discuss the most recent developments in national and international fiscal affairs.
Mr. Lopez Ramirez took this opportunity to also present the published inaugural lecture of Professor Kavelaars titled “Internationale fiscaliteit in transitie” which was presented on January 19th in Curacao when Professor Kavelaars accepted his appointment as extraordinary professor at the University of Curacao.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a plenary public session on March 9, 2017. The Minister of Finance will be present.
The plenary public meeting has been set for Thursday at 2.00 pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.
The agenda points are:
1. Incoming documents
2. Draft National Ordinance establishing the accounts of Country St. Maarten for the financial year 2012 (Ordinance establishing accounts 2012) (ZJ 2016-2017-096) (IS / 014 / 2016-2017 dated September 21 2016)
3. Approval Decision Lists Public meetings Parliamentary Year 2016-2017 no. 1-6 and POV no. 1
Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On March 6, 2017, the General Audit Chamber submitted its report to Parliament and the Minister of Finance, regarding the audit of the 2015 Financial Statements of the General Pension Fund (Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten - APS).
The financial position of the APS has become more worrisome, according the Audit Chamber. The drop in the coverage ratio from 97.6% in 2014 to 93.2% in 2015, is a key indicator. The coverage ratio is an important measure used by a pension fund to determine if the fund’s assets will be able to cover future pension obligations. The minimum standard required by the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten is 100%. Furthermore, APS did not meet the internal standard of its investment policy, which requires a long-term return of 5.5% on its entire investment portfolio. In 2015, the APS recorded a 0.39% return on its entire investment portfolio. The average return since 2011 is 4.29%.
Factors that contribute to the tenuous financial position of the APS include APS’s invoicing of lower than legally required premiums (22% instead of 25%), and the long outstanding claims against both the government of Sint Maarten and the General Pension Fund of Curaçao. The payment of ANG 19 million arising from the sale of the government building, and the payment of ANG 60 million based on the division of assets and liabilities between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands Antilles, was not fulfilled. As of the publication of their report, the Audit Chamber had not received confirmation of the resolution of these claims.
The Audit Chamber believes that the agreement reached between government, labor representatives of civil servants and the APS to reform the pension system may lead to sustainability of the Fund as compared to the existing arrangement. “However, compared to the current pension system, the new system represents austerity”, according to the Audit Chamber. The proposed changes of the pension system include an increase of the retirement age to 65 years, introduction of a pension based on the average-salary over a career instead of a final-salary arrangement, and the lowering of the minimum participation age to 18 years. In its report, the Audit Chamber expresses the hope that the APS will inform participants in a timely fashion about the reasons and consequences of the proposed changes.
There are several encouraging improvements at the Fund. APS presented the 2015 Financial Statements and the 2015 Budget within the legally required timeframe. In addition, APS is finalizing the amendment of its investment policy to align the policy with their new strategy. The APS reported that as of January 1, 2016, they have been invoicing based on the legally required premium of 25%.
WILLEMSTAD/PHILIPSBURG – According to the Quarterly Bulletin of the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten, the economic performance in the monetary union was disappointing during the third quarter of 2016. Growth remained flat in Curaçao (0.0%) while Sint Maarten recorded a real GDP contraction of -0.3%.
Growth remained flat in Curaçao caused by a decline in public sector activities, offsetting subdued private sector growth. The positive outcome in, particularly, the construction and utilities sectors was offset in part by fewer activities in the restaurants & hotels, and the transport, storage & communication sectors. The upbeat performance of the construction sector was supported by the growth in public and private sector investments. Meanwhile, the gain in the utilities sector was driven by increased production of water and electricity. Real output also expanded in the manufacturing sector, albeit at a much slower pace compared to the third quarter of 2015, as a result of an increase in ship repair activities moderated by a drop in refining activities.
By contrast, real value added shrank in the restaurants & hotels sector reflecting a decline in the number of visitor nights, stay-over arrivals, and cruise tourists. The contraction in the transport, storage & communication sector was related to a drop in air transportation and airport-related activities.
SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten - Training Professionals International Firm, TPI is excited to announce that they have partnered with the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry to host TPI’s ACCREDITED Administrative and Executive Assistant Training for professionals in the work place. This course will help to prepare your Assistants for performance excellence.
A spokesperson from the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce stated in a recent press release: “The Anguilla Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACOCI) is pleased to collaborate with TPI on providing an Administrative and Executive “accredited” Training for our members and the Business Community at large. TPI’s commitment in providing high-quality educational training programs and organizational services will definitely be a benefit to the ACOCI membership. As Jack Welch, former General Electric Ceo once stated, ‘An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.’”
Dr Gittens shared passionately, “Our mission is to promote and support employee development and organizational effectiveness by providing high-quality educational training programs and organizational services” that are accredited and globally recognized. We believe that if a training is not accredited it is not worth offering and we encourage persons to register for non-accredited trainings.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - A number of start-up companies and young people with great business ideas will soon get an additional avenue to bring their plans to fruition.
Ten Habitat, a non-profit organisation which focuses on developing investor-ready start-up Caribbean entrepreneurs and regional bank CIBC FirstCaribbean have partnered in a venture to support local and regional start-ups.
Gary Brown, Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean and Chairman of CIBC FirstCaribbean’s charitable foundation, and Selwyn Cambridge, Founder of Ten Habitat, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the bank’s Warrens, St. Michael offices which will see the bank supporting the work of Ten Habitat with a yearly grant of USD$15 000 for the next three years.
“At CIBC FirstCaribbean, we recognise the need for young entrepreneurs to get that grounding in starting their businesses and so we support the work of Ten Habitat and organisations like it that will hold the hands of young start-ups to guide them on the way to successful businesses,” Mr. Brown said following the signing.
Ten Habitat will work with young entrepreneurs, by exposing them to a range of hands-on support that will assist them in building their businesses. The organisation boasts a global network of experts, mentors and coaches who help the start-ups move their ideas from concept to reality and then further facilitate them by mobilising the Caribbean Diaspora to invest in those businesses.
GREAT BAY, St. Maarten – The Department of Statistics (STAT) is currently carrying out a Labour Force Survey 2017. A Labour Force Survey is a standard household-based survey of work-related statistics.
The STAT Labour Force Survey is still ongoing and the department is seeking the continued cooperation of the public.
“We are approximately midway through the survey period, and have visited 53% of the total sample size of 1200 households. So far the data-collection has progressed well, the majority of persons approached have willingly participated, and STAT is counting on the remaining households to give their input and help make this a successful endeavor, from which accurate statistics can be generated,” Dept. Head Makini Hickinson said on Thursday.
Challenges up until now include interviewers having difficulty gaining access to some gated-communities and private properties as well as direct refusals.
STAT emphasizes that the legal base for the survey is the Statistics Ordinance (AB 2013, GT no.450) whereby all selected residents are obliged to take part in this statistical enquiry.
PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten will receive seven additional calls from MSC Cruises for 2017 when compared to 2016. The outlook for 2017 is 33 port calls with approximately 127,674 passengers. MSC Cruises made 26 port calls in 2016 bringing 91,734 passengers to the destination. In 2015 the cruise line made 24 port calls bringing in 71,167 passengers.
In December 2017, Port St. Maarten will receive the inaugural call of MSC Seaside, which is part of the new Seaside Class described by MSC as a game changer that will feature a promenade with shops, restaurants and bars.
MSC Seaside will lead the way for a new generation of cruise ships with their revolutionary architecture and cutting-edge technology followed by the 1st and 2nd generation ships. MSC Seaside will be the first ship in the MSC Cruises’ fleet to be christened in the United States, and thereafter will be sailing in the Caribbean year-round from Miami’s port.
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