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Dutch Cabinet annuls policy on Antillean high-risk youth

page4c172THE HAGUE--The Dutch government is terminating the specific policy for problematic Antilleans in the Netherlands. Member of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber Martijn van Dam of the Labour Party PvdA wants to stop the cabinet from executing this measure and has submitted a motion to this effect.
Van Dam is highly critical of the plans by the governing liberal democratic VVD party and the Christian Democratic Party CDA. The previous CDA/PvdA/Christian Union government had allotted 8 million euros to the 22 so-called Antillean municipalities for projects to assist Antillean, high-risk youngsters and their families. Van Dam expressed his discontent during the handling of the 2011 draft budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Urbanisation and Districts last week Thursday.
"Crime among Antillean and Moroccan youngsters is high. This crime not only affects our society, but also those Antilleans and Moroccans who want to lead an honest life, but who are being stigmatised because of the behaviour of others," said Van Dam.
The Member of Parliament (MP) mentioned that the previous Minister of Urbanisation, Districts and Integration (Wonen, Wijken en Integratie) Eberhard van der Laan (PvdA) had drafted specific policy aimed at tackling the problems of Antillean and Moroccan youngsters. "And what does this cabinet do? It eliminates this policy," he said.
Van Dam lashed out at Minister Piet Hein Donner of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations for "pretending" that there was no problem in the Netherlands with the target group. "Which story will the Minister tell to people who will become a victim in the future, or to those youngsters who are being stigmatised through the behaviour of others? The Minister does nothing."
Donner didn't appear to be impressed by Van Dam's accusations. He explained that the intention of this government was to tackle crime and deal with high-risk youngsters through a general, non-specific policy.
"I concluded that we've had all kinds of programmes in the past to prevent this development, and that despite this we are still stuck with these facts. That approach has not borne sufficient fruit. Of course we can keep discussing the symptoms. I can't fight this crime by continuously initialising new programmes that have no effect," said Donner.
According to Van Dam, Antillean and Moroccan youngsters who want to make something of their lives on a daily basis have to face people looking at them with distrust. "Is that the country that we want – a country where people are judged by their ethnicity? Don't we want people to be judged based on their individual behaviour?"
The MP remarked that his party had always been in favour of taking harsh measures to curb crime and also the causes of crime. "Those causes can be found in segregation in the cities, in education, in backlogs, in poor upbringing and especially in the macho culture on the streets, where the boys teach other how to get into crime," he said.
In his motion, Van Dam called on Dutch government to stick to the policy of the former cabinet by specifically targeting Antillean and Moroccan, high-risk youngsters, thereby reducing crime among these groups.
Minister Donner advised against the motion, because he no longer wants to make funds available for projects for Antilleans and Moroccans. The motion, which will be voted on today, Tuesday, will most probably not make it, as the coalition parties VVD and CDA, supported by Party for Freedom PVV, are expected to vote against.

Dutch MPs want stricter control of new countries

THE HAGUE--Members of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber have presented several motions seeking to force the Dutch government to keep a close watch on countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. The motions were submitted during the handling of the 2011 draft budget for Kingdom Relations last week Thursday.
One motion of the Party for Freedom PVV, Christian Democratic Party CDA and the liberal democratic VVD party calls for the Dutch cabinet to do everything in its power to guarantee that the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT can properly execute its task to monitor the finances of countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. Monitoring should prevent the Netherlands from ever having to pay the debts of the islands again.
Together, PVV, CDA and VVD have a majority in the Dutch Parliament. CDA and VVD together form the cabinet, which is supported by PVV. Several opposition parties may very well support the motion when it comes to voting tomorrow, Tuesday, along with 10 others. Parties have expressed concerns about the financial management of Curaçao and St. Maarten.
Member of Parliament (MP) Hero Brinkman (PVV) stated last week that he was worried about actions by the new countries to "undermine" the financial supervision legislation that was approved in the Second and First Chambers earlier this year.
"This motion explicitly states that this cabinet has to make sure that CFT can do its work in such a way that we never again have to pick up the tab. I want to be informed every six months if debts are created. If a situation looms whereby the islands can't afford the interest on those debts, I want to be informed and I want action taken under the guarantee function," said Brinkman, explaining the reasons for his motion during the budget debate, late Thursday night.
MP Martijn van Dam of the Labour Party PvdA submitted a motion calling for the Dutch cabinet to report on the political and governmental developments in Curaçao and St. Maarten since acquiring country status on October 10 this year. Van Dam wants this report around January 10, 2011.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner said he was willing to comply with Van Dam's motion if the date of reporting was delayed by two weeks. Donner explained that he would be visiting the islands from January 10 to 15.
Van Dam's motion speaks of a "worrisome" situation in Curaçao and St. Maarten, where principles of good governance were probably being violated. The motion states that the new countries have indicated that they want to get out of the agreements that were made with the Netherlands and that the islands have tried to circumvent the Kingdom Consensus Laws and financial supervision.
MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) submitted a motion requesting government to draft a position paper on the guarantee function of the Kingdom government as stated in Article 43 of the Charter. Several other parties, including CDA, VVD and PVV, want this included in a broader position paper on the Kingdom that government will be presented with early next year.
MP Ineke van Gent of the green left party GroenLinks, along with Van Dam, Van Raak and Wassila Hachchi of Democrats D66, submitted a motion to make the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations the contact person for the Dutch special municipalities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Van Gent, Hachchi, Van Dam and Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union (CU) submitted a motion requesting government to draft a plan of approach aimed at developing future perspectives for pregnant, teenage girls and young, single mothers in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Parliament doesn't want pregnant, teenage girls to be dismissed from school on the islands.
Ortega-Martijn, Hachchi, Van Dam, Van Gent, Van Raak and Van Bochove presented a motion calling on government to establish a temporary facility to make it possible to exchange the Antillean guilder in the European part of the Netherlands. Exchange offices and commercial banks in the Netherlands no longer accept the Antillean guilder. Parliament considers it incorrect that citizens weren't informed of this in a timely manner.

Carty: ‘Corporate disobedience’ if ToT not reversed in one year

~ Chamber to meet minister Wednesday~

PHILIPSBURG--Government's failure to "get its act together" in a year and to reverse any further increase in Turnover Tax (ToT) will result in "corporate disobedience," said Chamber of Commerce President Glen Carty.
He told The Daily Herald on Monday that the chamber will be "filing permission" for a "protest march" on December 6, 2011, exactly one year after the chamber publicly said it would accept government's proposed ToT hike only as a temporary measure for one year.
The chamber will be meeting with Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto this Wednesday on issues related to the budget deficit and government's proposed increase in the Turnover Tax from three to five per cent.
"Government knows that we are not joking. We will take serious action and we have a year to drum up support. Government has to get their act together."
He said while the chamber will work together with government to "come with fast solutions" for the budget issue, at the same time the chamber means business.
"Our action could entail corporate disobedience by depositing all taxes in an escrow account. I will find legal advice to see how this will be done. We are giving them a year to get things in order, but we have nine days to solve the budget problem. We want government to understand that we mean that a year is a year."
On the issue of businesses in the chamber's register that have no CRIB numbers at the Inspectorate of Taxes, and therefore probably not paying taxes, Carty said one way of resolving this is by allowing the local chamber to issue CRIB numbers as is the case in the Netherlands.
"Solutions can't be found in the same frame of mind as the problem was created," he said. "There are too many businesses not paying taxes or paying the wrong tax. Government has to show the cost cutting measures of their operations."

Passenger with toy gun causes chaos at airport

page3b171AIRPORT--Chaos ensued at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) on Saturday evening when a passenger somehow managed to get through airport security and screening with what turned out to be a toy gun.
The male passenger, who was in transit from St. Barths, easily boarded US Airways flight #1563 bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, with the toy gun before the cabin crew realised he had it.
A source known to The Daily Herald said that the man was carrying a small dog carrier that he did not want to put under the seat. He was allegedly intoxicated and a woman seated alongside him was also said to be suffering from he effects of alcohol. When the flight attendant spoke to him, he is said to have grabbed hold of her arm. She told this to the captain of the aircraft.
When the man was asked for his boarding pass, he opened up a black plastic tool bag to search for the pass, and the crew saw that he was in possession of a black, plastic, toy gun. The muzzle of the toy had a red, plastic nozzle protruding from it. The man was also carrying a toy truck in the same bag. Following this, both the man and the woman were taken from the plane due to their intoxicated state.
Taking no chances, the captain was adamant that all passengers must disembark the aircraft and be checked (screened) by security again before the flight would depart.
The passenger with the toy gun was detained and, reportedly, threatened to hold PJIA accountable as, according to him, it had been a lapse in security at PJIA that had allowed him to board the aircraft.
This newspaper understands that he was eventually released and departed the island Sunday on a Winair flight back to St. Barths. Airport officials could not be reached on Sunday for comment.

Unions concerned about Turnover Tax increase

~ WIFOL: 'We don't agree with unilateral decision' ~

PHILIPSBURG--Four major unions in St. Maarten have expressed concern about government's proposal to increase the Turnover Tax (ToT) from three to five per cent as of January 2011.
Worker's Institute for Organised Labour (WIFOL) President Theophilus Thompson said government's move was unilateral. He said issues such as tax increases had to be brought to the Social Economic Council (SER) for advice and decisions should be made after consulting with the social partners.
"We don't agree with this unilateral decision of government to increase ToT without proper consultation with the social partners, because the initial introduction of the ToT was based on a tripartite decision."
The union president said he was part of the then-Tripartite Committee that a decade ago discussed the introduction of the ToT as a temporary measure. The temporary measure was never reversed.
"We strongly believe in social dialogue. We believe that decisions such as this should be made after a tripartite decision, and we are demanding that government put the SER into operation so that this decision can be brought to this [forum-Ed.] for advice."
Thompson said if government "continues to act unilaterally," then "they are looking to have a lot of industrial actions and social unrest in the future. St. Maarten has been free of major labour unrest because of social dialogue, Thompson said.
"The union has been pressing for government to establish the Social Economic Council. The former government was in the process to establish it, but the new government of country St. Maarten has to get it up and running.
"It is the small man and the worker who will have to deal with the high cost of living and the high house rent. These are factors that have to be addressed as well, and it has to be done in consultation with the social partners. Then maybe a better alternative or other suggestions can be brought forward, because we are in favour of having a balanced budget to ensure that income and expenditure are well taken care of. That's part of our responsibility."

Bitter pill
"It's a difficult pill to swallow," Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) General Secretary Juliette Greene-Blijden said when asked for the union's position.
She said any increase should be accompanied by strict control mechanisms to ensure that the tax was not passed on to the consumer. She said the Inspectorate of Taxes had informed the union in the past that ToT was a business tax and not a consumer tax. Yet it is passed on to the consumer.
"If you don't have a control mechanism in place, consumers will be faced with the additional expenditure," she said. "Somewhere along the line it will reflect back on the consumer and that will affect the cost of living, so strong measures have to be introduced to ensure that it does not reflect back to the consumer, because there is no way the consumer can say that their cost of living has gone up and they want an increase."
On the issue of the tripartite setting, she said unions were sometimes taken "for granted," but she said their involvement in the tripartite setting was important.

Luxuries
St. Maarten Communications Union (SMCU) President Ludson Evers said that, while there was no escaping higher taxes in new country St. Maarten, government should tax luxury items and items such as alcohol and cigarettes. "Tax things that are not a necessity in our lives," Evers said.
He said too that any increases should be done in small increments and not at one time, as this would adversely affect businesses and force small establishments to close.
"Applying the entire amount one time is not the right way. This is also the first time that we will be getting the full three per cent ToT in our hands, and they should first do a study to determine how much money St. Maarten would receive from this.

Cost of living
United Federation of the Windward Antilles UFA Adviser Willy Haize said that any ToT increase should be accompanied by a law that makes the cost-of-living adjustment mandatory for workers. He said too that government should pursue a higher sales tax, and that it would only be fair for workers burdened by extra cost associated with higher taxes to be compensated for any increases in cost of living.
He added that, although the union had been told that taxes would not be increased, UFA had always said that this would happen. "I was told that they had to get the budget balanced. I don't want government to look bad; they want to get the budget balanced by December 15, and for the government not to look bad, they have to implement the law for cost of living," Haize said, adding that the tripartite setting was not functioning.
"They have to take the workers' rights into consideration [...] They (government) promised to listen to the people, because the people put them there. This is the change they voted for, and we want to see the change carried out, and them not giving false promises."

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