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Medical student stabbed in off-campus altercation

~ AUC denounces 'offensive language' ~

CUPECOY--An American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine doctor-in-training was stabbed in the vicinity of Starz Casino (formerly Atlantis Casino) around 4:30am Tuesday during what the institution said had been an "altercation off campus."

While the exact reason for the stabbing is still under investigation, it is alleged that the student used offensive language against the perpetrator during an altercation.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said that when police arrived at the scene around 4:30am Tuesday, investigating officers had found the victim lying on his stomach and bleeding from a stab wound to the left side of his stomach and another stab wound to the right side of his neck.

Henson said the victim had said he had been stabbed "by a tall and slender local man." The victim was treated at the scene by paramedics and transported to St Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Henson said the victim "did not explain the reason why this incident took place." However, he noted that many rumours had been circulating regarding the cause of the incident.

In reaction to the incident, AUC spokesperson Christopher Railey said the institution had received reports of the incident on Tuesday, and was cooperating with local police investigating the matter.

"He [the student – Ed.] is receiving medical care for his injuries," Railey said. "We are also aware of reports that during this altercation, the student used inappropriate and offensive language.

"While the safety of our students, faculty and staff is of paramount concern, we are also committed to ensuring that AUC is a good citizen institution in the local St. Maarten community. The alleged conduct of the student in this case does not conform to the standards we have set for AUC students and will not be tolerated."

When asked, Railey said he did not have details of the student's specific injuries. Asked whether any steps would be taken against the student for what the institution said had been allegedly "inappropriate offensive language," Railey responded: "University officials will review the incident and consider disciplinary action if warranted."

Henson said the detectives' investigation was ongoing to determine the identity of the suspect responsible for the stabbing and the reason for the incident.

SVOBE to be compensated for shortfalls in its subsidy

PHILIPSBURG--The school board for secondary education SVOBE will receive compensation from government for the shortfall in subsidy it received for Milton Peters College (MPC) and Sundial School for the 2011 -2012 and 2012 -2013 academic years.

The decision was made in connection with the review of the appeals submitted by SVOBE regarding the compensation for the two schools.

Education Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs said in a press release on Tuesday that the compensation "will facilitate the continuity and quality of education" at Sundial School and MPC.

The decision to compensate the shortfall was made on March 10, after the Minister received the advice from the appeal committee appointed to review the contested court decisions, and after the results of an independent evaluation of the compensation scheme was obtained from government accounts bureau SOAB.

"It is my desire to work closely with SVOBE and other school boards to continue to enhance efficiency and accountability for the funding of schools, as these costs have been increasing and currently stand at approximately NAf. 100 million for the funding of educational institutions," the minister was quoted as saying.

The release said the Education Ministry is in the process of amending the compensation scheme "to further improve the means by which educational institutions are funded."

This process is to be concluded within the first half of this year, after which the formal ratification process will begin.

Twenty new police recruits sworn in during ceremony

page3b251PHILIPSBURG--The twenty police recruits who are currently undergoing their basic training were sworn in by Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson during a short ceremony on Monday, March 16, a police press release stated.

The ceremony took place in the conference room of the Police Headquarters in Philipsburg. After the recruits were sworn in, the minister gave the recruits a stern message regarding integrity and the responsibilities they have to take on when carrying out their duty.

Chief of Police Peter de Witte, Acting Chief of Police Carl John, Academy Coordinator Inspector Keturah Brown, Class-instructor Inspector Norwin Villareal, along with other colleagues were also present during the ceremony.

Peter de Witte spoke briefly to the recruits encouraging them to put their best foot forward and make St. Maarten proud.

Help requested in search for girl missing since September

page1b251COLE BAY--Family members of a missing girl are requesting the public's assistance to find their relative, a police press release stated.

Ana Cathuisca Arrindell (19), residing on Wellington Road, Cole Bay, left her home on September 3, 2014, to run a few errands and has not returned since.

"Family members have done their utmost, by calling and making contacts with other family members, friends and acquaintances, to try to locate Cathuisca, but to no avail. Cathuisca left the home without taking any personal belongings or other items with exception of her passport," the press release stated.

"The Police Force has been informed of this situation and has been looking for Cathuisca, but has not been successful in locating her. The family members have now decided to go public."

The police are requesting that anyone who may have any information or may know Cathuisca's whereabouts come forward and contact the police at tel. 542-2222 ext. 128 to share this information. Calls also may be made anonymously to the tip line tel. 9300 and will not be traced.

Sarah: MPs still to work out coping with reduced budget

PHILIPSBURG--Parliament still has to readjust its finances to cope with an almost NAf. 2 million budget cut that came with its adoption of the 2015 Country Budget in January.

Parliament originally submitted a budget for its operational expenses totalling some NAf. 12.8 million, said Democratic Party (DP) leader Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams at a party press conference Monday in Parliament Building. The approved budget only allocates some NAf. 11 million to the legislature.

The almost NAf. 2 million cut was a result of the Finance Ministry adjusting budgets across government's apparatus to come to a balanced budget that is in conformity with the Kingdom Law on Temporary Financial Supervision for Curaçao and St. Maarten.

How Parliament will cope with the reduced budget has not even been broached as yet among Members of Parliament, Wescot-Williams said.

Parliament's draft budget had NAf. 4.15 million allocated for MPs' salaries, NAf. 1.53 million for faction staff and related cost, allowances and payment to former MPs NAf. 1.96 million, travel NAf. 1.04 million, rent for Parliament House NAf. 1.13 million, secretariat salaries NAf. 1.6 million and related cost NAf. 1.33 million and NAf. 75,000 for legal and other expert advices.

No division has yet been made for the reduced budget Parliament has to work with, said Wescot-Williams.

She and faction advisor hotelier Emil Lee share the view that cuts must be made and serious research must be carried out into the application of the law that allocates allowances and other benefits to former MPs. The law does not make a distinction between an MP who was not re-elected and one who opted not to contest an election. In either case, allowances can be claimed for a stipulated period of time.

The amount in the original budget for legal and other expert advices is miniscule compared with Parliament's travel budget. Lee said Parliament needs to address its priorities.

Possible cuts can come in the area of travel and MPs' salaries. Wescot-Williams said she's "open" to a discussion about MPs' salaries, but stopped short of saying if she is willing to take a pay cut.

The original budget of Parliament which was adjusted by the Finance Ministry was compiled in the last Parliamentary term and was already with the ministry when the current MPs took office on October 10, 2014.

Meanwhile, Parliament's finances are still handled by the Finance Ministry. The legislature does not have a finance/accounting department of its own and no attempt has been made to establish one since the inception of Parliament in October 2010. This leaves MPs to make requests for all disbursements, even faction supplies to government.

Wescot-Williams also reiterated her stance about the need for labour and related statistics from government to support its push to implement the counterpart policy. The policy seeks to place unemployed Dutch nationals as counterpart to foreign workers in specialized jobs. She does not believe the counterpart policy will in any way create job space for university graduates who want to return home.

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