Island Financial

Island Financial (1523)

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.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - In 2015 the Police Force collected a total 15.000, - guilders for outstanding fines and conditional dismissals.

In 2016 the Police Force collected a total of 118.343,53 guilders for out standing fines and conditional dismissals.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The United People’s (UP) Party on Wednesday submitted its Register of Donations to the Electoral Council.

Treasurer of the UP Party Board Earl Wyatt and Secretary General Kenneth Serrant submitted the register.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Council of Ministers received a presentation by representatives of the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication, in the person of Ms. Lucy Gibbes, Department Head, Ms. Makhicia Brooks & Mr. Jude Houston, the Department’s two Senior Policy advisors and the Director of Qredits Mr. Elwin Groenvelt. The functioning and sustainability of the program Qredits was explained to the Council.

Based on the Ministry’s Economic Development Plan, the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication, identified two key pillars to focus their immediate attention on, namely to increase Foreign Direct Invest (FDI) and to stimulate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s). With the FDI, the focus was on the development of a package of digital promotional tools including a website (www.investmentguide.sx) and material that can easily be distributed.

The second pillar was the empowerment of Sint Maarten’s SME’s, especially considering that these enterprises account for 80% of all businesses on the island. Research showed that two constant issues kept arising among these enterprises. First of all, access to affordable and to reliable information/knowledge, which was addressed by the Department via providing free classes and workshops with funding from COSME, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of SME’s. The second challenge was access to microfinancing.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - During the National Health Week, several meetings with various stakeholders have been scheduled by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour. This included sessions with the Social Economic Council (SER), the Council of Advice, the Council of Health, Parliament as well as two-day session for invited stakeholders.

On Tuesday January 24, the Council of Ministers was briefed on the matter of National Health Insurance. To learn from others countries’ experiences, Minister Lee invited several experts in the field to discuss the topic at hand from different angles. After the introductory remarks of both the Minister and Ms. Fenna Arnell, Department Head of Public Health, the experts which included Professor Wynand van de Ven, Professor of Health Insurance at the Erasmus University, Researcher Stanley Lalta from the University of the West Indies and Mr. Anco Ringeling of AZV Aruba, each gave their point of view on National Health Insurance and the process leading up to it. The meeting resulted in an interactive and informative session with the ministers present.

CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS  -  Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports inflation rates remained low on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands over Q4 2016, based on the consumer price index (CPI). Inflation on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba has hovered around 0 percent for nearly two consecutive years.

Inflation on Bonaire stable for one year already

Consumer prices on Bonaire increased by 0.5 percent in Q4 relative to one year previously. Since Q1 2016, Bonaire’s inflation rate has remained at more or less the same level. Inflation was kept low due to the price development of electricity over the past quarter, a decline by over 6 percent. The price development of petrol on the other hand had an upward effect on inflation; although more or less equal to Q3, the price of petrol did rise considerably less year-on-year than was the case in the previous quarter.

Inflation on St Eustatius was 0.2 percent in Q4. This represented a rise compared to Q3, when consumer prices declined by 0.9 percent year-on-year. The rising inflation rate was mainly due to price developments of petrol and food products. Petrol went up in price by 5.7 percent over the last quarter. In addition, food products including fresh vegetables, cheese and cornflakes became more expensive.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten — The Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS), established by the Social & Health Insurances SZV since January 2016, has helped SZV to collect over 28 million NAf extra in social premiums over the year 2016 for the different Social Security Funds managed by the SZV.

The increase in premium collections for the Sickness and Accident Funds for example has been 21.1 % over 2016 since the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) started its activities to increase compliance of all Companies with employees who by law are obliged to pay the legally indebted social premiums to the SZV. These high collection numbers and are a direct result of the restructuring of the SZV and of the close and structured collaboration between the employees of the SZV, ATS and SBAB.

The main objective of the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) is to increase compliance in and to promote the regular payment of the legally indebted social security premiums ensuring in this way that all Companies pay their fair share in accordance to the Social Security Ordinances.

The goal set by the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) for 2016 was not only to increase the collection of social premiums but to heighten awareness in complying with all the stipulations of the Social Security Ordinances and to offer all companies support with administrative overviews of the different premium payments and with correct and complete registration of the Company. This support service of the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) entails detailed reporting and correct processing of the administrative mutations both at the SZV and at the Companies.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On January 5th, 2017, the General Audit Chamber presented its report to Parliament regarding the Compliance Audit of the 2015 Financial Statement of the Government of Sint Maarten.

The 2015 Financial Statement was formally submitted to the Audit Chamber and the SOAB on November 4th, 2016. As such, the auditing activities of both entities started very late in the year. Normally, the financial statements are expected in September.

Despite taking additional time for drafting and presenting the 2015 Financial Statement, Government has once again failed to present a solid and auditable financial statement. “We find this particularly regrettable in light of the improvements that were promised after the audit of the last set of financial statements. More diligence in achieving improvement is expected from a Country that has previously produced five financial statements”.

Besides the lack of progress in dealing with the shortcomings of government’s financial management, the report details government’s failure to adhere to legal requirements when reporting and giving account in the financial statement. This is a reason for concern, according to the Audit Chamber. Based on the response received from the Minister of Finance regarding the Audit Chamber’s report, a financial statement that is in compliance with the National Accountability Ordinance is not expected prior to 2019. “We find this unfortunate”.

“We note a slight improvement in the explanation provided with the 2015 Budget. However, the account presented in the financial statement does not correspond with that of the budget”, according to the Audit Chamber. As a result of this inadequate accountability, proper insight about how public funds were used is missing.

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