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CFT: Discipline increases, still necessity to limit risks

WILLEMSTAD/PHILIPSBURG--The Committee for Financial Supervision CFT for Curaçao and St. Maarten has observed that the budgetary discipline has increased in both countries, according to its second semi-annual report for 2014.

For Curaçao, this translated into a surplus on the normal service; and for St. Maarten, into a slight deficit of almost eight million guilders. At the same time the risks outside the direct influence environment of the government increased.

CFT Chairman Age Bakker said: "In both countries we see a better management concerning the execution of the budget. However, several risks remain present, especially with regard to the governmental companies and social funds."

Despite the significant challenges Curaçao had with the AOV, the tax income and the government companies, it closed the year 2014 with a surplus. This surplus was used to compensate the deficits realised during the period of 2010-2012. During the years 2013 and 2014, Curaçao has managed to almost completely compensate for the incurred deficits. Now there is space to settle the reserves in the social funds and to build up a resistance capital.

St. Maarten still has difficulties getting the tax income to keep up with the economic growth. The initiatives to allow the government companies give a contribution to the state budget also faced start-up difficulties. The expectation is that 2014 will be closed-off with a deficit of almost eight million guilders. The incurred deficits since 2010 will have to be compensated, which represents a heavy load for the budget.

During the second half of 2014 CFT gave its advice on the draft budget for 2015 of Curaçao as well as for St. Maarten. In the adopted budgets this advice was not processed sufficiently; for that reason after the adoption of the budgets the CFT again submitted an advice.

For Curaçao, it mainly concerns the necessary measures to decrease the deficits in the AOV fund, and the elaboration and execution of action plans to make the four ailing government companies (CDM, ADC, Aqualectra, Cpost) become solid again. In the meanwhile, the necessary agreements have been made with Curaçao so CFT may give the budget 2015 a definite positive advice.

St. Maarten still has the challenge to increase tax incomes, whereby a reinforcement of the tax office and also an improvement of the compliance should have the highest priority. The CFT requested a more detailed explanation from the government for the estimated revenue in the budget of 2015. Besides, St. Maarten still deals with substantial payment arrears at amongst others the APS and SZV, for which a solution should be found on a very short term. Finally, the CFT also has expressed its thoughts about the compensation of the realised deficits and the level of the proposed investments of St. Maarten.

Both countries have caught up substantially with respect to producing and controlling the annual reports, but there is still a backlog in the evaluation and adoption of the annual reports by Parliament.

Police to issue fines on the spot during carnival

page3a247~Fail to pay; get locked up~

PHILIPSBURG--Police will be sending a firm message to troublemakers and law breakers during the carnival period.

The police will be issuing fines on-the-spot for a number of offenses during the carnival season, Chief Public Prosecutor Ton Maan told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

The intention is to let the public know that causing trouble or committing certain offenses will hurt you in your pocket. "We are doing this to let people know that misbehaving will cost them money," Maan said. The issuing of the fines on-the-spot is being done under a "conditional dismissal," meaning if the fine is paid the offender won't be prosecuted, Maan said.

Persons, who fail to pay the fine on-the-spot will be locked up for as long as possible. The intent will be to hold them until the end of carnival, following which those held will be indicted on June 3.

The fines range from a minimum of NAf. 100 for offenses such as fighting or obstructing a carnival parade procession to NAf. 600 for cases of ill-treatment.

Persons who are held during carnival for offenses for which fines cannot be immediately instituted will be held for the duration of carnival and indicted on June 3. Reporters were told that similar on-the-spot fines were issued during carnival in Curaçao and Aruba and the action is highly effective.

Persons will have to pay their fines immediately, and will be given a receipt of payment. The police will let offenders without cash on them get this from an ATM if and when possible.

The offenses for which fines will be issued under the General Police Ordinance include: Not following commands of a police officer; disturbing a parade; fighting in public (not ill-treatment); removing, replacing or taking down of a police barricade and throwing of bottles NAf. 100 or US $56.

Under the Weapon Ordinance persons found to be in possession of a weapon (not a firearm) or an offensive or harmful object can be fined NAf. 500 or US $283; resisting arrest NAf. 300 or US $169; not adhering to an order given by a police officer NAf. 500 or US $283; insulting an officer on duty NAf. 300 or US $169; verbal threat (not group/gang related) NAf. 500 or US $283; ill-treatment NAf. 600 or US $339 and lastly, destruction of property NAf. 300 or US $226.

Under the Opium Ordinance (drug law) persons found in possession of cocaine up to 03 grams can be fined NAf. 300 or US $196; possession of cocaine of more than 03 grams, but less than or equivalent to 05 grams NAf. 500 or US $283; possession of marijuana between 05 to 20 grams NAf. 250 to US $141; possession of marijuana in excess of 20 grams, but less or equal to 30 grams NAf. 500 to US $283 and possession of 06 to 10 Xtc-pills NAf. 500 or US $283.

Leader Price supermarket victim of armed robbery

MARIGOT--The Leader Price supermarket located on the RN7 on the outskirts of Hope Estate, Grand Case, was the latest victim of an armed robbery early Wednesday morning.

Capitaine Sylvain Jouault disclosed the robbery occurred at 6:00am as the first employees began to open up. An undisclosed amount of money was stolen. He added that Gendarmes who were on the scene “quickly fired shots at the get-away vehicle” in the car park to force it to stop but the suspects managed to escape. Extra patrols were dispatched to search for the suspects in the area and block escape routes, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

In other news, Capitaine Jouault noted the three individuals accused of committing 15 burglaries in the past month were sentenced on Wednesday. Two adults were sentenced to 18 months in prison while the third individual, a minor, was referred to a Judge for juveniles for appropriate sentencing.

Also on Wednesday, Gendarmes arrested two individuals in Sandy Ground who were suspected of robbing a shop two weeks ago. While in custody the pair admitted they carried out the burglary, Jouault said.

Man accused of raping 10-year-old, court orders psychological report

PHILIPSBURG--A 29-year-old man stood accused of the rape of his 10-year-old stepdaughter yesterday, at the Court of First Instance. There was a subsidiary charge of sexual assault. The case was partially heard, but was adjourned indefinitely in order for a psychological assessment of accused G.A.P. to take place, and further witnesses to be heard.

The court heard how, in November 2014, the man was accused of the anal rape of the 10-year-old daughter of his partner, something he vehemently denies. The case came to light after the girl handed a written note to her teacher which said "I was raped by my stepdad." At the request of the school psychologist, the child was then asked to give a full account, which she did.

She described how, the previous week, the accused had taken her to his bedroom, closed the door, pulled off her clothes and underwear, and penetrated her. Later on, when heard by a specially trained police officer, she went into further detail stating that she had asked him to stop and that it hurt.

A medical report showed no visible injuries, however, the child was said to have a hemorrhoid, which could have been caused either by constipation or by external pressure, such as penetration.

The accused denied penetrating the child. He said there were issues because the girl, at the age of 10, had started showing an interest in boys. He claimed two staff members at the school had mentioned to her mother that the girl was spending time with boys. When asked, she said she only played with them.

The stepfather was concerned because two years earlier, when she was eight years old, one of his male friends had a new cell phone and the girl wanted to see. She then insisted on sitting on the adult male's lap, something that caused her stepfather concern.

He stated that on the day of the offence, he had taken the girl to his bedroom in an attempt to shock her out of what he regarded as forward behaviour. He stated that he had taken off her clothes and grabbed her arms whilst standing behind her. He states he then pulled her towards him a few times in a motion simulating a sex act.

He maintained that he had been wearing jeans at the time, and said he had only intended to warn the girl about what would happen if she got involved with boys.

The judge asked him if he felt this was an appropriate way to teach something to a child. He replied that he had been frustrated to hear she had been hanging around with boys. The accused appeared of a lower mental age and found it hard to explain himself.

The accused gave the impression that he understood that he was required to say that his actions were wrong, but that he could not quite explain why they were wrong. He did state that he knew he had crossed a line. "I just wanted to stop her from hanging around with boys," he said.

The judge, upon hearing from the accused that the mother of the girl had apparently been approached by two people at school about the child's behaviour with boys, ordered that the mother be called to give a statement about this, along with the two staff members. She further ordered a psychological evaluation of the accused. This was something, she believed, that should always be done in cases of child abuse.

The case has been adjourned until further notice, to allow time for the further witnesses to be heard and for the psychological evaluation of the accused.

No quorum stalls housing meeting

PHILIPSBURG--The discussion in Parliament about developments at St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) was stalled on Wednesday after insufficient Members of Parliament signed in for the meeting with ad interim Housing Minister Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. The meeting will be reconvened at a later date.

Six of the seven United People's (UP) party MPs were not present for the meeting.

Only seven of the 15 MPs serving in the legislature signed in for the meeting. Present were meeting initiators MPs Sarah Wescot­Williams (Democratic Party), William Marlin and Christophe Emmanuel (National Alliance).

Fellow meeting initiator MP Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party) sent a note to Parliament stating he would be attending the meeting, but would arrive late. He did not arrive before the meeting was suspended until further notice. The plenary session of Parliament may have gone ahead had he arrived before 10:30am.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 10:00am. As is customary and based on the Rules of Order of Parliament, Chairman Dr. Lloyd Richardson waited until 30 minutes after the official start time to see if eight or more members would sign for the session. This did not happen.

Other MPs that signed in and were present for the meeting were MPs Leona Marlin-Romeo (independent), Silveria Jacobs and George Pantophlet of National Alliance.

Independent MP Cornelius de Weever was in the Parliament Building at the time the meeting was slated to take place. He, however, did not sign in for the meeting and left the building before Dr. Richardson announced the meeting did not have a quorum.

Dr. Richardson said United People's (UP) party MPs Theo Heyliger, Franklin Meyers, Tamara Leonard, Johan Leonard, and Maurice Lake were all absent with notice from the session.

MP Silvio Matser (UP) was absent without notice.

MP Marlin (NA) queried if the MPs who were absent with notice had given reasons for such when they submitted their notices. Dr. Richardson said Heyliger had informed Parliament via a letter stating he was attending the SeaTrade Conference and Meyers is away for medical treatment in Colombia. For the rest, "no reason was given."

The Sea Trade Conference Heyliger referred to will be held in Miami from next Monday, March 16.

It is understood that MP Tamara Leonard was absent due to illness. She is still undergoing stringent treatment to stave off breast cancer.

Wednesday's plenary session had started on December 22 and was suspended to facilitate information gathering by Gumbs and his support staff. The meeting centred on the forensic investigation carried out by Government's Accountants Bureau SOAB into the operations of SMHDF, the decision of the Housing Foundation board to suspend three members of the management team and the request of then Public Housing Minister Maurice Lake to the SOAB to withdraw the investigation.

In the meantime, the Housing Foundation's board announced Tuesday night it had dissolved its service agreement with Director and member of the management team Henry Lynch based on a host of instances of financial mismanagement. His service agreement ended February 4, following his suspension dated December 12, 2014.

"In the time period between the suspension with pay and the decision to terminate the service agreement with immediate effect, SMHDF commissioned further investigations into the previously-established financial irregularities within its organization," the board stated in a press release issued via its attorney.

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