St. Martin News Network

Sep 02nd
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Questionable Real Estate Bubble.

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The UP lead government has created a real estate bubble that will burst and hurt many real estate investors.
Let us take a look at the real estate transaction by Minister Lake of the UP party from an auditor's view:

Before a minister can sign a document or contract that binds government financially he has to obtain at least 3 approvals from different control units:

  1. He has to obtain the approval from the minister of finance, because the minister of finance has higher supervision on all the ministries in government.
  2. He has to obtain the approval from the Council of Ministers.
  3. He has to obtain the approval from the Governor of St. Maarten and
  4. If the transaction is not budgeted, he has to get the approval of the CFT.

Since the transaction with the Vorst family did not have these approvals and it was not budgeted, it will have to be classified as an act of gross negligence.

Control Mechanisms
The Parliament of St. Maarten did not act because the Minister should have gotten a vote of no confidence.
The Council of Ministers did not act because the minister could have been suspended.
The CFT did not act because they should have written a letter asking questions relating to this matter.
The Audit Chamber still have an opportunity to act and audit this transaction, since the transaction has a negative effect on the community of St. Maarten. Real Estate prices will get out of reach of all local St. Maarteners. Thus our children will not be able to buy a piece of land on St. Maarten. Only rich foreigners will capable of buying overpriced real estate on the Island.
The Governor should have ask some questions and call the minister to order.

This land deal which forces government to buy land for more than 4 times the market price, sends a questionable signal to the real estate market on St. Maarten. This questionable bubble can only burst in the near future.
The young people of this country will not be able to purchase a parcel of land to build their dream home on the rock called St. Maarten.
The Audit Chamber should investigate this transaction so as to limit the damage to Government and the community in general.

Former Minister of Finance Roland S. Tuitt

Last Updated ( Sunday, 31 August 2014 18:26 )


Open Response To Facebook Comment Of Reginald Richardson.

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Dear Reginald Richardson,

Like many people, I too agree with your advice to our current Prime-minister, Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams.
For the simple reason, that the lady has in her own style and un-disputably displayed a political knowledge, prowess and tenacity - un-matched by most other politicians in our history.
In addition, during her career, The Prime-minister had to endure the loss of her late husband.
Many would, under those circumstances have decided to 'throw in the towel' and to enjoy quality time with family.
The lady endured and persevered tough challenges nevertheless.
Our movement, in the past has also commended and criticized her political positions, whenever we considered such appropriately.
We were never easy on her and she never responded with any sense of revenge, rather always very polite whenever our paths crossed.
We ourselves tried not to disrespect her as a person.
As a matter of fact we acknowledge that Sarah is a very down-to-earth and like-able person.
Still - based on the abovementioned and on the changing political reality, which is nothing less than a political 'paradigm-shift' in many aspects, we too think that the lady should draw conclusions from these and do the 'honorable thing'.
However......., we still believe that her real legacy will never be complete without one historical milestone.
It is no secret that Sarah has native St. Martin roots on this island and that she truly loves this island, not to talk about her deep relationship with the people from Simpson-bay, who are becoming strangers in their own community.
It is also no secret, that all her very own native, indigenous St. Martin People are being threatened with extinction, by means of 'cultural genocide by substitution'.
This will result, in eventually others being in total control of all aspects of the island, including Government.
We can not begin to imagine, that Sarah would want her legacy to show that she did nothing to protect and preserve her own native St. Martin people.
Therefore, we sincerely hope and pray, that Sarah, before passing on the 'baton' of leadership to the 'new blood' generation, at least has the courage and wisdom to take the initiative to work on a 'New St. Martin Order', focusing on preservation of the St. Martin People, their cultural-heritage, nation building, and unification of the island – bottom-up.
Sarah does not have to do that by herself.
The same advice namely goes to the NA-leader, William Marlin, who also got a very clear message at the polls.
In addition, Silveria Jacobs, the presumptive new leader of the NA, herself in the past, committed herself to promote the 'Decade of revitalization of our St. Martin heritage'.
And to top it all off.
What better, most experienced and dedicated group to assist in the formulating of this 'New St. Martin Order', than the St. Martin Grassroots People movement, duly registered on both sides of the island and well-known to all ?
As they say; 'We are just a call away'......

Leopold JAMES
President of the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement

Last Updated ( Sunday, 31 August 2014 18:27 )

Harbour law suit.

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Dear Editor,

I read with interest your recent article about the Harbour law suit. While not immediately obvious, that incident is actually related to the below press release which you may not be aware of.

The foreign port in question is St Maarten and the local official is your illustrious UP leader, Theo Heyliger.

It is only a question of time before the US Department of Justice makes this public knowledge. Another rock that no one has looked under yet is the sale of St Maarten Port Services N.V. to St Maarten Terminal Services N.V. A business owned and operated by Heyligers family. Through this purchase the Heyliger family now holds a monopoly over the shipping business at the port. An enviable position for a politician with executive control over the Harbour.

What you do with this is up to you of course. I can only tell you what rocks to look under.

AGL: Shipping subsidiary paid off officials

A shipping company owned by AGL Resources Inc. has delivered what could be a headache for the natural gas giant.

AGL reported Oct. 30 it has begun an investigation into payments made to "local officials and other persons" at a foreign port used by AGL's shipping subsidiary, Tropical Shipping, which is one of the largest containerized cargo carriers serving the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

"While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that a number of payments were made over a series of years and the aggregate amount of these payments is less than $200,000 based upon information obtained to date," AGL reported.

AGL (NYSE: GAS) said it has voluntarily disclosed the payments to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We will cooperate with any investigation by the DOJ and the SEC," AGL said, adding that it is unable to predict the duration, scope or result of any investigation.

An AGL Resources spokeswoman told Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 30 that the company would not comment on additional specifics related to the investigation at this time. Rick Murrell, CEO of Tropical Shipping, could not be reached for comment.

AGL acquired Tropical Shipping in December 2011 when it bought Nicor Inc. for $2.4 billion, making AGL the nation's largest national gas distribution company based on customer count.

Headquartered in Riviera Beach, Fla., Tropical Shipping has provided containerized cargo transportation services in the Bahamas and Caribbean regions for 50 years.

In 2012, Tropical Shipping had an annual revenue of $342 million and earnings of$8 million.

Through the first nine months of 2013 its revenues were $264 million.

The company employs more than 1,000 people.

On Oct. 30, AGL CEO John Somerhalder said in AGL's third-quarter earnings conference call with analysts that AGL's cargo shipping business has "improved meaningfully."

"We are seeing continued improvement in market conditions, and our volume is higher by 10 percent year-over-year through September," he said, according to a transcript of the call. "While the rate per 20-foot equivalent unit, or TEU, has fallen slightly on average due to pricing action taken last summer, rates for the third quarter were above last year's levels."

Somerhalder did not discuss the Tropical Shipping investigation.

Tropical Shipping helps AGL reduce its taxes. Tropical's operations are structured to allow AGL "to take advantage of certain provisions of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 that provide the opportunity for certain tax savings," AGL's annual report says.

Tropical Shipping transports containerized freight and provides southbound scheduled services from the United States and Canada to 25 ports in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, interisland service between several of the Caribbean ports and operates from St. Thomas and St. Croix as its hubs in the Caribbean. Tropical Shipping also provides northbound shipments from those islands to the United States and Canada. Other related services, such as inland transportation and cargo insurance, are also provided by Tropical Shipping or its other subsidiaries and affiliates.

Tropical Shipping's southbound cargo consists mainly of building materials, food and other necessities for developers, distributors and residents in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, as well as tourist-related shipments intended for use by hotels, resorts and cruise ships. Tropical Shipping's interisland shipments consist primarily of consumer staples and northbound shipments primarily consist of apparel, rum and agricultural products.

On average, approximately 70 percent to 75 percent of Tropical Shipping's total volumes shipped are in the southbound market, 15 percent to 20 percent interisland and 5 percent to 10 percent northbound. Tropical Shipping's contract consists of a southbound shipment of goods from Canada destined mainly for Puerto Rico. The company's cargo shipping segment also includes Triton Container International Ltd., a full-service global leasing company and an owner-lessor of marine intermodal cargo containers.

Phil W. Hudson is a finance, banking and general assignment reporter.

The Whistleblower

Last Updated ( Sunday, 31 August 2014 18:26 )