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Gumbs again denied access

WILLEMSTAD--The head of the Intelligence Service in Curaçao (former VNA of the Netherlands Antilles) Edsel Gumbs was denied access to the office when he returned to work again after the civil servant judge had suspended the decision from Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte to bar Gumbs and place him on active duty.

Gumbs' lawyer Melrose Bloem could not be reached for comment, so whether he will institute summary proceedings against this decision is unknown, as is whether this time a so-called Committee of Supervision was heard regarding the suspension of Gumbs.

That Gumbs was barred from the buildings of the intelligence service twice now has prompted opposition party PAR to raise the alarm once again.

Parliament faction member Glenn Sulvaran said that all three pillars of government (the legislature, the executive branch and the administration of justice) are now threatened. He referred to "the dictatorial manner of the MFK/PS/MAN coalition in Parliament, where the opposition is consciously excluded and muzzled."

There is also a disproportionate division in the composition of the various committees, while opposition leaders are either ordered to sit down or not given the opportunity to ask questions or to submit proposals.

Things are going wrong within the Schotte cabinet as well, according to Sulvaran. "The prime minister tells lies and consciously violates the law. He is also lying about the presence of contracts for oil drilling in our territorial waters. This is against values such as good governance and transparency," said Sulvaran.

That government apparently also disregarded a judgment from the court and denied Gumbs access again proves it does not respect the administration of justice. "I cannot imagine someone disregarding a judgment from the court," Sulvaran said.

James chosen as a GEBE director, but appointment remains in limbo

page1b164PHILIPSBURG--The Shareholder Foundation of GEBE made a decision to appoint former Director of Resources for St. Maarten Jean James as the second Managing Director of the company to serve with current Managing Director William Brooks.

However, while that decision was made by a majority of the foundation's board members (3 out of 5), it still has to be ratified in a meeting at which all five board members of the foundation are present, which, based on the position of Saba and Statia against additional Managing Directors, has kept James's appointment in limbo.

According the articles of incorporation of the foundation, decisions cannot be ratified unless all members of the board are present or if they give their vote by proxy. In other words, the representatives from Saba and Statia, with their veto power, simply have to stay away from meetings to render the foundation powerless.

Initially, the foundation wanted to appoint two new Managing Directors in accordance with the articles of incorporation of GEBE. However, after a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study was commissioned on the insistence of foundation members who are of the opinion that two new directors are unnecessary, it was deemed that one would be sufficient for the company.

The Supervisory Board of Directors, charged with the recruiting of candidates, submitted two names to the Shareholder Foundation to consider for the post. Saba and Statia were reportedly against both, claiming inexperience. The recruitment of the new directors called for a director with financial profile and a director with an operational management profile.

James is currently the owner and Managing Director of Capaz Consulting St. Maarten. He has an extensive background in financing, taxes, information management and reorganization processes throughout the islands that formed the Netherlands Antilles and in Holland.

The Executive Councils of Saba and Statia are not in favour of any new Managing Directors for GEBE and were against efforts to have Brooks removed as Managing Director last year. The two territories have stiffened their opposition with the announcement by Minister Theo Heyliger that he has initiated an arbitration process to fast track the division of shares of the company.

To break a possible decision-making stalemate, there is a clause that would allow the shareholder foundation to send a decision for arbitration which would allow both parties to argue their case for or against before a final decision is rendered.

If the foundation manages to appoint a new director, he or she will form a "Management Board" of two for GEBE. The supervisory board would then be tasked with appointing the President of this board who can represent the company on his or her own or with another member of the Managing Board.

Based on his contentious history with the Supervisory Board, it is highly unlikely that William Brooks will be appointed President of the Managing Board. The only way, reportedly, that Saba and Statia would accept a new director is if Brooks is appointed president.

Despite numerous attempts, Chairman of the Shareholder Foundation Ralph Richardson could not be reached to provide clarity or information on how GEBE will proceed.

Duncan introduces Central Parole Board

page3c163PHILIPSBURG--Justice Minister Roland Duncan introduced the newly appointed Central Probationary/Parole Board CCR to the public Thursday, calling the five members capable experts in criminal justice and social science.

Retired judge Wally Havertong, principal Vernon Richards, psychologists Udo Aron and Judith Arndell and lawyer G. Hartzmann will soon have to choose a chairman from among them.

The CCR will advise the Minister on requests for parole and electronic home supervision. Minister Duncan appointed these experts to the CCR on Wednesday, November 17.

Minister Duncan described Havertong as having a widespread knowledge of the judicial system. He said Richards had vast experience in dealing with people." Of Aron, he said: "As a psychologist, I'm sure he will put his training to good use." He said he had very good information about Hartzmann, who he has contributed in his three years as a lawyer here.

Of Dr. Arndell he said, "Everybody knows who the doctor is." She has been a working psychologist for more than 20 years and runs a private practice.

Havertong assured the community that the CCR will "carry out our duties to the best of our abilities."

Two new gynecologists at SMMC in February

 New midwives on staff

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has bolstered its staffing with a number of new professionals.

SMMC General Director Dr. George Scot told The Daily Herald on Tuesday that two new midwives are now working at SMMC. The first, Anne Roos, joined in August and the other - Marie-Josee de Haan-Gremme - started on November 1.

Both professionals are on six month contracts. This brings the total number of midwives at SMMC to three. The third is Regina Janga, who had been the only midwife at the medical institution for several years.

Two new gynecologists will also join SMMC in February 2011. They are Dorette Courtar, who is on a three year contract and Dieke Smit, who will be on a two year contract. Both specialists had been practicing in the Netherlands. Scot said SMMC had "taken the initiative" to fill the gap that had existed.

Scot and former Health Commissioner Hyacinth Richardson had announced in March that seven "experienced" obstetrician/gynaecologists from the Netherlands would be working on a rotational basis at SMMC for the remainder of this calendar year to guarantee the delivery of quality women's health care.

The announcement came after concerns had been expressed that women's health care would have been jeopardised with the departure of long serving gynaecologist Dr. Ray Tjon-Kon-Fat, who ended his practise in St. Maarten in March and returned to his native Suriname. Dr. Randall Friday and Dr. Michel Petit are two other gynaecologists operating here. Petit had also signalled his intention to leave.

CFT anticipates lower, but still ‘big deficit’ for island

page3b163PHILIPSBURG--Committee for Financial Supervision CFT anticipates a lower than originally forecast, but still "big deficit" for the 2011 budget. The estimated deficit is now tagged at some NAf. 95 million.

This adjustment in the deficit forecast comes after separate meetings with the CFT and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, the Council of Ministers and Parliament in the past days.

CFT President Hans Weitenberg, giving his prognosis in a press conference held at Holland House Beach Hotel, said, "If we had known what we got to know yesterday, our forecast would not have been NAf. 130 million, but let us say NAf. 95 million."

This turnaround comes from government outlining to CFT some of the measures it intends to take to increase revenues and lower expenses. Weitenberg said it was not his place to discuss some measures and left it to Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto and government in general to make their announcements.

The Council of Ministers will handle the measures it intends to takes in its weekly meeting on Tuesday.

Shigemoto, when contacted, also declined to discuss the direct measures. In the past weeks he had stated that balancing the budget would require some tax increases.

The Minister also intends to pursue the faster dispersal of the assets and liabilities of the former Netherlands Antilles. Some NAf. 43 million in Turnover Tax (ToT) is owed to St. Maarten by the former Central Government. This is based on collections up to October 9, the last day of the existence of the Antilles, Shigemoto said in a press release. (See related story)
In spite of the additional measures and pending payments to bridge the budget gap, the NAf. 95 million deficit is still high compared to the size of the budget. Weitenberg said. The deficit still represents some 25 per cent of the entire draft 2011 budget; a concern for CFT and government, he added.

In October, CFT had given government six weeks to have an independent review of the budget to determine the minimal cost that will arise from Government's existing policies and laws. That review period comes to an end next week. Once this has been completed and a report has been submitted to the CFT, Weitenberg said, a better view of the budget would arise.

In the past three years of the CFT has constantly labelled St. Maarten as not meeting its deadlines for submission of draft budgets and other fiscal documents. Weitenberg hopes this will change now and vowed that CFT will be stricter with deadlines, because it was too lenient in the past.

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