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The ambience.

By the time this article appears in the daily newspapers it will be 27 more days before Christmas. Last year some or many felt as if the ambience was not there. I would have to agree. And I am referring to specifically Philipsburg. We can agree that if you looked at some 90% of the homes on the Dutch side of the island there were no Christmas lights decorations that reflected the festive ambience which many of us feel around this time and I am not talking about the financial aspect because I know the reality of our economy which is reflected in unemployment among certain age groups. But my intention is not to discuss this particular subject at this time of which I promise you much will be said by my person on it in the not too distant future. My focus is mainly on Philipsburg and on the businesses in that area. If my memory serves me right one of the complaints we received from locals and also our visitors were how gloomy Philipsburg or town looked with hardly any lights or festivities which in my view would have translated into more spending. But the ambiance was not conducive for such. Let me be clear to the businesses people in town, I am asking you to please decorate your establishments and I believe it will attract more shoppers which would mean more sales for you. I listened to a radio talk show host saying that some of decorations such as lights are stolen by perpetrators. This is unfortunate but it should not be a deterrent because we have more security in town during the Christmas season than at other times and this am sure will minimize these actions. I am calling especially on the government owned companies to be part of these activities. The Harbor I know played a tremendous role in the past and I would like them to do so again. Gebe does an awesome job for which they must be commended. But its only one area that I know of. I understood that in the past there was a committee that existed who had the task to organize this venture. It would be good to revive them again. It will be good for us and our visitors if we create a festive ambience. We are a Caribbean people and believe in colors, let us make this Christmas season a festive one as we remember the real reason for the season when Jesus Christ our savior was born. It is up to us to create the ambience.

November 27, 2016


A Second Chance to Do Things Right.

St. James, MARIGOT:--- I would like to thank all the voters in St. Martin who came out to vote on the occasion of the 1st round, last Saturday, November 19th, of the Primary of the Right and Center. I also want to thank the voters who voted for Alain Juppé and made it possible for him to earn 128 votes. This placed him in third place and 44 votes behind Nicolas Sarkozy who placed first on the Saint-Martin, but who was ultimately eliminated from the contest and soundly rejected at both the Overseas and the National level. François Fillon’s surprising and brilliant performance is to be congratulated and Alain Juppé took precedence in the Overseas Territories while earning 28% of the overall vote. Finally, I want to thank all members, supporters, fans, volunteers, the delegates and accessors who worked at the 2 polling stations.
However, the participation figure of 471 voters on Saint-Martin, (2.47% of voters against 9.07% nationally), was very disappointing. This low turnout, however, can be clearly explained by a process that the online press denounced a week ago as an "Electoral hold-up."
This low turnout can also be explained by a total absence of any explanation to the population of the real issues of this primary. This democratic debate should have been proposed and organized by local representatives of Les Republicans and by the current Member of Parliament and Territorial Councilor who is the legal representative of the party on our territory.
This lack of action on their part, effectively, stifled the debate on the views and ideas of the contenders for the mantle of candidate of the Right in the Presidential elections of 2017. It also deprived Saint-Martiners of an opportunity to make up their minds and cast their votes for the possible next President of the Republic. In addition, as a population, the seeming lack of reaction, creates a view of a people lacking in ideas and opinions who have little concern for their country. We as a population have never been shy to express our views or take on the tough questions that concern our future. Given the information and opportunity, I have to believe that we would have done better, because, make no mistake, this election concerned us in several fundamental ways.
First of all, given the current economic, social, security and developmental malaises under which we currently suffer, it was important that we cast a vote for a potential partner at the national level. We are in need of reforms at the level of our status, as well as, regulations that touch on issues such as social charges, expansion of the working week to include Sundays, and the compensation payments to France that continue to weaken our development prospects. Other issues for which we need partnerships with the State touch on how the security of our island is carried out, educational reforms, making our territory more competitive regionally and on and on. The need for partnership touch on real “bread and butter” issues, as well as, our wellbeing as a society and developing opportunities for our youth, many of whom are totally disenfranchised. This Primary was not just the business of the Right and the Center and it was certainly not the business of any one politician and his supporters to stifle a debate that truly concerns us all.
Any vote --- that impacts the wellbeing of the populace -- is -- the business of the people. It should be their choice to decide not to vote but it can never be the choice of any person or group to highjack the debate by failing to make sure that the people are informed. The guarantee of fair elections is a principle of our Republic that should never be undermined. There is a saying that “the one eyed man is King in the country of the blind.” Here on Saint-Martin we have gone past the era when we were spoon fed, intimidated and told what to think. We are past the era when dirty “politricks” and political maneuvering in the shadows was the way our leaders led.
Thankfully, the tidal wave that was expected here for Nicolas Sarkozy was avoided along with the negatives that could have ensued. Fortunately, once again, those in the positions of responsibility have the opportunity to provide us with the information necessary and have another chance to open a true debate of ideas, something that this important plebiscite deserves. I look forward to hearing the ideas and the pros and cons in support of both François Fillon and Alain Juppé. I continue to advocate for Alain Juppe, of course. I do, however, look forward to an exercise in true democracy, a debate of ideas followed by a vote that results in a winner. The people in responsible for conducting this election have a second chance to do things right.
This is how politics is done on Saint-Martin. Let’s get on with it.

Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool
Member of the Executive and the Territorial Council
Of the Collectivité of Saint-Martin

History is repeating itself?

The behavior of the French authorities or may I say the administrators of the territories of the republic of France in this instance Saint Martin/ St Maarten goes back more than 200 hundred years or the 19th century. The following paragraph is taken from a document I am reading online which says the following: “In the 19th century, there was an interest in the bordering territories in each of the French colonies concerned that had implications for their Dutch neighbors. In other words, the French overseas administrators projected acts of contiguous expansion which were not lacking in consequences for the Dutch possessions. After the abolition of slavery the French metropolis planned in 1848 to annex the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin/St Maarten, so people these acts are not new. These are acts of imperialism which is defined by the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as 1 imperial government, authority or system, 2 the policy practice or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political and economic life of other areas or broadly the extension or imposition of power authority or influence. So we have the giant superpower France imposing its power and might on the Dutch side of St Maarten. This act started over 200 years ago and for whatever reason is continuing today. It will be interesting to see what small Netherlands will do. At the same time, however, the brothers and sisters on this small island are caught in the crossfire if I should call it such. History is repeating itself. In conclusion, let me add the following; During this dispute, you might here that laws supports certain actions but let us not forget that it was legal to own slaves based on the laws that were established back then. Morality and integrity had nothing to do with it, hence make sure and take a good look at the laws that were made while we were yet physical slaves.

November 20, 2016
George Pantophlet

An appeal in favor of businesses in Marigot.

The dilapidated state of both the water and the sewage systems of our territory is a real problem that has for years weigh significantly on the budgets of both the households and the local government.

Indeed, with the numerous breakages and leaks on the drinking water supply network (that have a very high price tag for us all) and the regular overflow from the sewage system in and around Marigot, causing nauseating smells almost at every street corner, the backflow of rainwater and spills of sewage in the rainwater evacuation system, it is clear that there is real risks in terms of public health but also for the stability of the business sector in Marigot. Cognizant of these realities it becomes obvious then, that the construction work conducted for many weeks in the heart of Marigot to resolve these issues is not a luxury.

That been asserted, however, in view of the foreseeable impact of such construction work on:

- the everyday life of the population (local residents, tourists, businesses, administrations, etc.),

- on traffic, traffic jams and difficulties to find parking

- public health issues (impossibility to collect garbage and other waste)

- on the level of economic activity (lack of clients, residents and tourists.) and thus loss of sales, unavoidable and incompressible fixed expenses for businesses, etc.

One would think that those who govern us in the Collectivité (to govern is to anticipate) would have been thoughtful in order to anticipate the negative, penalizing and crippling consequences, of such construction work; and or that they would at least have been sensitive

to the foreseeable difficulties created for residents and especially the businesses and other professionals situated in the heart of Marigot.

Unfortunately, the facts prove that they have no understanding of the serious economic challenges, or knowledge of the business world. Worse even they demonstrate a casual attitude in the face of the many recurring challenges, fragility and vulnerability of the businesses of our territory (particularly those in the heart of Marigot). It is clear that there is a “civil servant or administrative attitude" weighing and rampant in the decision-making process at the head of our Collectivité and its satellite agencies.

Why were no plans made to have the work been carried out in such a manner that could alleviate at least part of the inconveniences (ie: having the essential part of the work been done late afternoon, evening, night, and weekends and even on holidays in order to cause the less possible inconvenience for the citizens, professionals and the business sector?

Yes there is an extra-cost when work is done accordingly. But did anyone in government thought a second of the loss of business (sales, revenues, ect..), the salary and social costs for maintaining the jobs even when there is no one in the stores and shops for weeks, the other incompressible expenses (rent, utility, etc.) that the businesses in Marigot are facing during all this period?

Did anyone in government thought for a while that in the absence or the loss of activity during this period of time for the businesses of Marigot, the result will be a loss of revenues for the Collectivité (no or less collection of TGCA tax, loss of profit and income tax revenues, greater difficulties to collect the License and Patent contributions (DLCP), ect..)? (Not to mention the increasing difficulties that this situation has created for businesses and professionals to repay their loans and other debts, to pay their social security contributions, etc..)

Beyond these facts, what is incomprehensible and regrettable is that no efforts are made to try to complete the work and reopen the roads in the areas where work started months ago.

Why, would new streets be closed for work when many others for weeks are abandoned yet unfinished, as if the objective is to bring the whole of Marigot to a stall?

Our territory cannot afford to and should not lose business; our economic fabric must and should not be weakened by poorly thought-out planning and reflection on the behalf of incompetent government officials. I am therefore calling on the Collectivité to urgently:

- implement an emergency plan for businesses affected by this situation in order to avoid any further weakening of their financial structure. Among the possible measures is the waving of the November portion of the License and Patent

contributions (DLCP) ; granting of extra time to pay Tax debts; abandonment of part of the TGCA);

- give instructions for leniency to tax services as well as to the Treasury of St Martin.

- solicit the State representative (the Préfète), the state tax services and social agencies in order to inform them of the challenges facing businesses in Marigot because of the work in process.

I am convinced that this is the least that can be expected in light of the sad situation. But it is also what it takes to reassure the economic world and businesses who for so many years are hoping to see better days ahead.

Alain RICHARDSON. Ancien Président.
For the Love of St-Martin.

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Radio from voiceofthecaribbean.net

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