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Gas goes up on Saturday

PHILIPSBURG--The Executive Council announced yesterday that prices for unleaded, diesel and cooking gas will be increased as of tomorrow.

Unleaded gasoline will be increased by NAf. 0.16 cents to 1.93 per litre and diesel by NAf. 0.15 to 1.70 cents per litre.  The 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas or LPG will increase by NAf 5.00 to NAf 35.60 and the 100-pound cylinder will increase by NAf 22.40 to NAf. 125. Bulk purchases for cooking gas are also being increased by NAf. 0.05 to NAf. 1.40 per pound

Carnival set to start Sunday, February 7

MARIGOT--French side carnival this year will be held from February 7 to February 17, the organisers announced Thursday.

In a changing of the guard, L’Amicale du Personnel Territorial is organising the event under the slogan “2 gether we jammin’” in conjunction with troupe organisers and partners Arts and Culture Department, Dauphin Télécom, St. Martin Tourism Office, Caribbean Liquors and Tobacco, and Beach Plaza Hotel.

Carnival President Jules Joe promised the event would be on a par with previous carnivals, not necessarily bigger but better organised.  

The children’s parade will be held on Sunday, February 7 organised by La Caisse Territoriale des Oeuvres Scolaires with some eight establishments expected to take part. With the Haiti crisis still fresh in people’s minds, the grand concert “St. Martin United for Haiti” scheduled for Thursday February 11 at the Louis Vanterpool Stadium from 7:00pm is a fundraiser. Featured local artists include Patoo 2, Duttysham, Prince, and Oswald. Entry fee is US $5.

Friday’s Carnival Kick Off concert at 7:00pm features Jade, Velly, Cromex and Tequila, and Reggae Dancers. At 9:00pm Panthers Vibes and Nuff Respect band take the stage. Entry fee that night is $10. Saturday February 13 is Zouk Stars Night with Youth Waves starting at 9:00pm.

The Grand Parade is on Sunday afternoon February 14 and will start as usual from the Agrément roundabout around 1:00pm and follow a circuit through town to finish in the stadium where a free Calypso Show will be held. The Mardi Gras Parade (second lap) is on Tuesday from 1:00pm and follows the same route. A free Rap concert will be held in the stadium afterwards.

The Black and White Jump- Up is on Wednesday February 17 at 3:00pm. Carnival closes that evening with the burning of King Vaval on the waterfront.

Revised law on Dutch nationality approved

THE HAGUE--A vast majority in the Second Chamber on Tuesday approved the legislation proposal to amend the Kingdom Law Dutch Nationality (Rijkswet op Nederlanderschap).

A total of 140 Members of Parliament (MP’s) said “yes” to the amendment to the Kingdom law which makes it more difficult for foreigners in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba to attain Dutch citizenship. Ten MP’s voted against.

Once proclaimed, the amended law will make the criteria to obtain the Dutch nationality much stricter. These include a proper command of the Dutch language and having knowledge of society and of the constitution of the Kingdom. Applicants will have to pass an exam.

The amended law mainly serves to reduce multiple nationalities, double passports in the Netherlands. Opposition parties Party for Freedom PVV and the one-member Verdonk faction voted against the law proposal. The two parties wanted a more far-reaching law change which completely eliminated double nationalities.

Govt, USONA sign off on NAf. 9 million for projects

page4c214PHILIPSBURG--Amongst the projects for which nine million guilders financing was agreed by Dutch funding agency USONA are one aimed at strengthening government’s Legal Affairs Department, the installation of a conveyer system for sensitive documents, and a new version of the Youth Social Formation programme.

Leader of Government Commissioner William Marlin signed the contracts with USONA yesterday, Wednesday. He said that in improving government’s capacity as far as legal support was concerned, emphasis in strengthening its Legal Affairs Department would be placed on preparing the necessary legislation for St. Maarten as a country.

This NAf. 2.4 million project will have a duration of 21 months. Marlin said legal experts would be brought in for a short period to help jumpstart the process. Thereafter, four recent graduates will be recruited for the long haul. He said part of the project in its totality would be to upgrade and train policy advisors in Country St. Maarten.

He also elaborated on the installation of a conveyer system in the form of vials designed to ensure security in the transport of sensitive documents from one government department to another. This system will be installed over a one-year period at a cost of NAf. 670,000.

Last, he introduced the execution of the newer version of the Youth Social Formation programme, which caters to school dropouts not equipped with a trade or the skills to obtain a job. He explained that the programme would not be attached to any one institution. Courses and trainings will be provided by a number of facilitators. This three-year project at a cost of NAf. 1.6 million will target youngsters 16-24 years.

Dutch Parliament will only meet with Island Councils

THE HAGUE--The Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber has decided to bypass the Antillean Parliament and engage in direct talks with the Island Councils. It made clear on Wednesday that it didn’t accept the conditions of Antillean Parliament Chairman Pedro Atacho for a meeting in Curaçao in late February.

“I am disappointed,” said the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Antillean and Aruban Affairs NAAZ Chairman Willibrord van Beek about Atacho’s letter, which he had received on Tuesday.

According to Van Beek, Atacho had stated in his letter that the Antillean Parliament didn’t want to have a meeting with NAAZ in February, but preferred to have informal talks prior to the formal handling of the first set of Kingdom Consensus laws in late March or early April. This, however, won’t happen, said Van Beek. And so the Antillean and Dutch Parliaments will only meet in a formal setting during the handling of the Kingdom Consensus Laws.

Atacho furthermore stated that Member of Dutch Parliament (MP) Hero Brinkman of the Party for Freedom PVV would not be welcome at the Antillean Parliament as long as he hadn’t offered his apologies to the people of the Netherlands Antilles for calling their politicians “corrupt” and a “bunch of crooks” during his last visit to Aruba. Brinkman had also insulted Aruban politicians at that time.

Van Beek stated in a meeting of the NAAZ committee Wednesday that Atacho hadn’t taken into account that the Second Chamber also wanted to meet with the Island Councils of Curaçao, Bonaire, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius during its visit to the Netherlands Antilles to discuss the constitutional future of the islands.

Van Beek’s original plan had included organising meetings with Bonaire and Curaçao in the latter island, and travelling to St. Maarten to have a meeting there with the Island Council. The Island Councils of Saba and St. Eustatius were to be invited to come to St. Maarten. Van Beek said it would be too costly for all Island Councils to travel to the Netherlands. Curaçao had already indicated that it wanted to come to The Hague.

Initially, Van Beek had planned to also meet with the Antillean Parliament in Curaçao, but NAAZ decided to drop that plan after Atacho’s letter. The Committee members agreed that the meetings with the Island Councils should proceed. “We have said that we also wanted to talk to the Island Councils, and I think it would be a bit short-range to say that we are not going anymore based on the reply by the Antillean Parliament,” said MP Bas Jan van Bochove of the governing Christian Democratic Party CDA. “We will not allow the Antillean Parliament to dictate to us,” said MP Brinkman.

Brinkman’s apologies to the Antillean people are not a condition that has to be met in order for the Dutch delegation to travel to Curaçao, because NAAZ’s meetings with the Curaçao and Bonaire Island Councils would take place outside the Antillean Parliament anyway. Van Beek said he was considering renting the conference room at Avila Beach Hotel for this purpose.

Van Beek told the Committee that the planned visit of NAAZ to Curaçao hadn’t been well received. Besides the fact that the Antillean Parliament didn’t want to meet in Curaçao in February, and the condition that Brinkman had to publicly apologise, Atacho stated in his letter that the Antillean Parliament didn’t want to discuss the recent report of the Democratic Deficit Committee at this point. According to Atacho, the report should be discussed at a later stage, when the Parliaments of Countries Curaçao and St. Maarten have been established.

MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) was obviously highly irritated by the discussion about the trip to the Netherlands Antilles and Atacho’s letter. “I feel like I’m in kindergarten. I’ve had enough of this back and forth,” he said, and left the meeting prematurely.

No date has been set yet for the meetings in Curaçao and St. Maarten. Van Beek said he would be contacting the Island Councils to establish a date.

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