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Emmanuel asks Holiday to clarify his signing of garbage contracts advice

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Monday publicly asked Governor Eugene Holiday to clarify how he could sign the final advice for the awarding of five-year garbage contracts, an advice that, according to the MP, is surrounded by red flags.

“I do not expect a reply from the Governor, but I believe he at least should explain the signing while so many questions remain unanswered, or if he received clarity on those issues. He does not represent the people, but he signs documents that affect the people,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel reminded that there are at least two companies who have filed complaints with the Ombudsman, reports of VROMI senior personnel distancing themselves from the bidding process, the changing of methods while the bidding process is already underway and the awarding of three large parcels to a single company while more than 20 submitted bids.

Additionally, the MP asked if the internal awarding advice from the bid evaluation committee was included in the final advice the governor signed. The MP also asked the Governor if he did not find it strange or at least questionable that a parcel that cost roughly Naf 3.5 million the last time it was tendered, now costs almost Naf 6 million.

“That parcel five years ago was combined with another parcel at approximately 3.5 million. This time, it consists of just one area and it costs more. None of these things raised any eyebrows at the Governor’s office? Also, can the Governor explain to the public if he is satisfied that all relevant financial information related to the bidding process was included in the advice and if he had any financial comments towards the advice? Did the Governor question reports of political affiliations of the companies awarded a contract?” the MP asked.

MP Emmanuel said he is not directing any questions on the subject to the Minister at this stage since the Minister has made it clear that he feels “my comments are only for sensation. I have a responsibility to hold government accountable and ask questions as I see fit as a Member of Parliament. Many of the bidding companies approached me with concerns and I responded by publicly and openly asking questions.”

He said that he further understood that legal challenges are being prepared that will bring the process into question as well as any individual who was associated with it. “There are many outstanding questions that have to be answered and they will be asked and if need be further investigated, whether the Minister and parties at VROMI agree or not,” the MP said.

He said if the Governor had any concerns or comments, the public should be aware. “If none of this falls under his purview and he only looks at certain things before he signs, he should explain what that is. Because the impression out there is if the Governor hears of or knows that there is concern with a particular issue that hits his desk, he would look into it before signing. If that is not the case, and he only looks to see if the T’s are crossed and the I’s dotted, then the Governor should explain that to the public,” MP Emmanuel concluded.

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April 2021 SSRP Income and Unemployment Support Application Deadline Approaching

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The deadline for April 2021 SSRP Income and Unemployment Support is quickly approaching. Both programs of the St. Maarten Stimulus and Relief Program disburse ANG 1,150 for the applicable month to approved persons who demonstrate a financial need for the support. New and existing applicants must submit a support request monthly through the online ssrp.sx web portal to receive continued financial assistance. Thus, in order to receive stimulus funds for the month of April, all applicants must submit their requests via ssrp.sx by April 15, 2021 (before 11:59PM).

The Income Support program is open to Sole Proprietors, Vendor license holders, bus and taxi drivers, independent taxi drivers and independent tour bus operators. The COVID-19 Unemployment Support is open to individuals who can demonstrate that they were dismissed from their place of work after March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are still unemployed.

If applying for Income Support for the first time, applicants must create an online account. To do this, applicants must go to the website: https://tinyurl.com/ssrpincome and proceed with the following process:

  • Complete the Income Support Application Form.
  • Upload a copy of a valid Sint Maarten issued ID or Dutch passport (expired no longer than six (6) months).
  • Upload a copy of a valid copy of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry registration, this is only required from sole proprietors (excerpt cannot be older than 6 months);
  • Upload a copy of a valid (or not expired longer than 6 months as of the date application) vending permit (of any kind), bus or taxi license
  • Upload a copy of the 2019 Income Tax Return, stamped by the Tax Inspectorate.

If applying for Unemployment Support for the first time, persons will need to create an online account. To do this, applicants must go to the website: https://tinyurl.com/ssrpunemployed

  • Complete the COVID-19 Unemployment Support Application Online Form;
  • Upload a copy of a valid Sint Maarten issued ID or Dutch passport (expired no longer than six (6) months).
  • Upload a Letter of Termination or Dismissal (on Company letterhead with authorized signature and Company Stamp) specifying COVID-related dismissal;
  • Upload a copy of the applicant’s last pay slip (from a payroll system with the Company’s name clearly visible)

Applicants with existing online accounts should log in to their portal account and choose the month they wish to receive support for. Applicants should receive a confirmation e-mail indicating that their request was successfully submitted. To check the status of their request(s), applicants can log into their portal. If approved, the stimulus funds are disbursed to the applicant’s bank account at the end of the month.

For taxation purposes, all approved applicants who receive funds will be emailed a SSRP Disbursement Summary for the relevant fiscal year. At this time, applicants who received funds in 2020 have each been provided with a summary for the abovementioned fiscal year. This summary, which reflects the total amount of funds received, must be attached to the applicant’s income tax return when filing.

For any further assistance or information, please send a message to SMDF’s SSRP Hotline at +1 (721) 554-9764.

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Only victim’s compensation can be paid at Prosecutor’s Office

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM is only accepting victim’s compensation payments for the time being at its office at Emmaplein, Philipsburg. All other claims and fines may be paid at the Receiver’s Office in the Government Administration Building or at the Police Station.

No appointment is needed to pay victim’s compensation.

Victim’s compensation is usually levied by the Court in various instances for harm inflected against a victim of a crime. This monetary award is collected by OM SXM and paid to the assigned victim as prescribed by the Court.

People who have outstanding fines or other fees, which are not victim’s compensation, that must be paid for encounters with the law, may pay these at any of the two alternative payment options.

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MP Buncamper suggests stiffer penalties for convicted sexual abusers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the surfacing of yet another case of alleged sexual abuse of minors, Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper of the United Sint Maarten Party (USP) faction in parliament expresses his concerns with the unwarranted incident, the MP said in a press statement on Friday.

“What is frightening is that people in whom parents place their trust with their children are often the ones suspected of these crimes” MP Buncamper noted. The penalty for those found guilty of such heinous crimes are often found to be too lenient to society, considering that their victim(s) is/are scarred for life. Buncamper insists that: “Stiffer penalties must be applied to those convicted of rape, child abuse, making and distribution of child pornography. The possibility exists that pedophiles maybe walking around us in our midst, holding jobs that require them to interact with children.”

MP Buncamper says that he will support a screening method to determine if an applicant applying for a job that involves interaction with children has a record of abusing children. He disclosed that former Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard started the process to amend the laws regarding child abuse and rape.

The former MP proposed an increase of the maximum sentence for persons found guilty of child abuse and/or rape from 15 years to 24 years. The former MP also proposed to establish a database of persons convicted of rape and/or child abuse during a past number of years, which will be available to the general public. This will alleviate the possibility of placing former offenders in the circle of vulnerable children. MP Leonard had also proposed permitting abortion of an unborn child conceived by rape, if the mother chooses to do so.

MP Buncamper said that the amendments to the laws proposed by former MP Leonard should be tabled again. “I will ensure that the initiative is completed, and the laws are amended and supplemented where necessary to make this type of crime heavier qua penalty and expose those invoked for at least 10 years once convicted.” 

Buncamper went on to say that “We must make our society safe from pedophiles and those persons engaging in child pornography.” At the same time, the MP advised parents to speak to their children about these subjects to ensure that they know what to do in the event they become targets of child molesters and other pornographic material. Adequate aftercare and counseling must be made available for rape victims who are left to deal with the ordeal on their own.

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Open your Heart, open your Mouth. Episode 7 this Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Episode 6 of the Back Box Series curated by Naomi Janelle “Open you Heart, Open youth Mouth” was a mesmerizing evening of song co-featuring Faith Peterson, Tyreke Arrindell and Troy Florent. Young artists ranging from 18-21 years brimming with talent stretching from dance to drama to song. Since their eye, hearth –and mouth opening experience in the musical “Hamilton” (NIA’s abridged version) they have embarked on a singing journey coached by DJ Jansen de Jong which will leave a lasting impact on the artistic cultural scene of St. Maarten, as witnessed by Diva La-Vaune Hodge-Henry, in her own words: “I was very impressed with the young performing artists at the Black box series on Saturday March 27th at NIA. They were so brave, so creative, so talented! They explored the world of song attempting such difficult pieces. They were brilliant. I was so inspired and left the hall with much enthusiasm. I am really looking forward to seeing more shows from this group of budding and promising artists.”

The Black Box Series is a platform for artists to explore and share their work followed by a Q and A session. These artists, now dubbed the Fabulous Four, must also be commended for their efforts and organizational skills in putting this show of 13 numbers together which included ‘Stand up (Cynthia Erivo)’ performed by Troy Florent, ‘Control (Zoe Wees)’ sung by Faith Peterson, ‘All of me (John Legend)’ interpreted by Tyreke Arrindell and ‘Unbreak my heart (Toni Braxton)’performed by Naomi Janelle.

Don’t miss Episode 7, Saturday April 10 at 8 p.m. delving into the world of Drama and curated by Loes Nauta “Unwell”. Tickets go on sale at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts punctually at 8:00 p.m.

nia PIX boy2

NIA PIX GIRL

nia PIX BOY

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Driver injured after an altercation with a client

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Personnel from the Detective Department are busy investigating a stabbing that took place on the evening of April 2, 2021 around 5.30 pm in the vicinity of a casino on Welfare road.

According to the preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim made an arrangement with a man to take him to the casino on the island. An argument arose between the victim and the suspect in connection with payment that ended in a scuffle.

During the scuffle, the victim sustained a cut in the face with a knife that the suspect had in his possession. After being injured, the victim got into his car and attempted to drive home.

He was later stopped on the L.B. Scott road by the police patrol who intercepted him on his way home. The victim who was bleeding profusely was given first aid by the patrol while waiting on the arrival of the ambulance personnel.

The victim was later rushed to the Sint Maarten Medical Center by ambulance personnel for further treatment. He was later visited by the detectives at the Medical Center and was to be able to shed a little light as to what transpired prior to him being injured with the knife. This investigation is currently still ongoing. (KPSM)

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AUC Students provide info and assistance with COVID-19 Vaccine registration over the Easter Weekend

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Thursday April 1st, and Saturday April 3rd, several students from the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) volunteered their time and energy to provide information to the public about the COVID-19 vaccine and assist with the registration process.

On Thursday, the COVID-19 vaccination information and registration stands were located at Premiere Supermarket across from Colosseum Crossfit in Cay Hill, Greens Market in Cole Bay, and Carrefour Bush road. On Saturday there were two stands at Sunny Foods and again at Carrefour Bush Road.

Information about the COVID-19 vaccines was provided, along with practical information about the rollout campaign on Sint Maarten. The students also registered persons on the spot, which has led to a significant rise in vaccination registrations over the weekend.

AUC medical student Napolon Pellumbi said that: ‘’It is tremendously important to collaborate during this pandemic, and I wanted to do my part in boosting people’s confidence regarding vaccination. The friendliness expressed by the people of Sint Maarten and their willingness to participate in vaccine registration made my experience extremely enjoyable. Furthermore, I was highly impressed by the efforts of the community to follow CDC guidelines by continuously wearing masks and remaining 6 feet apart. For these reasons, I felt very comfortable at all times, and I owe it all to the appreciation shown by the people of Sint Maarten. I look forward to volunteering and continuously working with the people of Sint Maarten, to put forth better health and a better future.’’

Curacao and Aruba are currently experiencing a new Coronavirus crisis due to the more contagious UK variant. This variant of the COVID-19 virus has also been detected on Sint Maarten, and we can see active case numbers slowly rising. Considering the explosive transmission of the virus on Curacao from just a handful of cases to thousands within three weeks, the populace cannot be naive and must do everything to prevent a similar third wave hitting Sint Maarten.

The first thing is vaccination! The Pfizer vaccine has shown to be effective against the UK variant, but more people need to be vaccinated to really have an impact on national transmission. Vaccination is now open to all persons 18 years and older, who reside on Sint Maarten. Registration and the vaccine is free of charge and everyone is urged to register if you have not yet done so.

The second is testing. Persons who are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with a known positive case are advised to call 914 or their general practitioner and to get tested for free at the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) testing location in Pointe Blanche, which is open from 8:30 to 10 AM on weekdays. Free testing is also available on the weekends, but persons will have to make an appointment by calling 914.

The third is wearing your mask, social distancing, and handwashing. Please continue to adhere to and comply with the rules, as they are the cornerstone of the Governments public health prevention campaign.

Currently, almost 12.000 persons have registered for the vaccine, which is roughly 25% of the number that is needed to create sufficient protection and prevent the spread of the virus (herd immunity) among the people of Sint Maarten.

Therefore, members of the community are reminded to register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Registration can be done via the online registration form which is available in English, Spanish, and Creole, and can be found via this link: https://forms.sintmaartengov.org/form.aspx?v=OGtn05kNmb

Both Cole Bay and Dutch Quarter Community Helpdesks are currently equipped to provide information and can assist with registration on the spot. They are open from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday to Friday. You must bring a form of identification when you visit the helpdesk.

Lastly, the paper-based “COVID Vaccine Registration Form” can be picked up at several locations, including CPS at the Vineyard Office Park Building, the Division of Labor Affairs at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center in Simpson Bay, doctors’ offices, the Government Administration Building, and select pharmacies.

Organizations who wish to inform their staff about the Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination program via an information session can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have a friend, parent, neighbor, or relative that may need assistance with registration, transportation, or emotional support, please do your part. If you need help with the registration process, your appointment, or wish for more information about the vaccination campaign, you can also call CPS at 914 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sint Maarten protected together.

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TelEm Group announces dramatic increase in fiber speeds

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group is taking the roll-out of the company’s island-wide Fiber network infrastructure to a whole new level - with the launch of dramatically increased Fiber speeds for all existing and new Fiber customers.

In announcing TelEm Group’s “MORE speed for the SAME price” campaign, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Mr. Michiel Parent, says all existing TelEm Fiber customers already had their bandwidth speeds automatically upgraded during these past weeks to the new speeds being offered.

Mr. Parent says absolutely no additional charges were made for the upgrades.

“Our valued customers don’t have to do anything at all, except continue to enjoy their free upgrade and continue using of the best and fastest Fiber network on St. Maarten,” said the TelEm Group CCO, adding that no announcement was made about the upgrade until now to ensure the higher speeds were being configured on the Fiber network as planned.

The CCO says the higher Fiber speeds are a direct answer to what TelEm Fiber customers themselves said they wanted when they were questioned in a Customer Satisfaction Survey last year, coming back with a resounding: “More internet speed without paying extra for it.”

“We took note of the survey results and put together these packages especially for the people of St. Maarten, in essence, giving them ‘MORE speed at the SAME price’,“ explained Mr. Parent.

He says, where customers were used to getting 8Mbps for $55, now they are getting up to 15Mbps. Fiber customers who used to get 15Mbps are now getting up to 25Mbps for the same attractive price of $90. Customers with the highest speeds of 50Mbps will now receive up to 85Mbps.

“There is just no comparable offer on St. Maarten today and we are very proud to be announcing these dramatic increases in speed in Fiber-ready areas,” said the CCO, adding that new customers in selected areas will also qualify for free installations.

“By taking the lead through its island-wide rollout of Fiber, TelEm Group is connecting new customers to the Fiber network every day and giving them superior internet speeds to fit their budget and their needs.

“As more and more areas connect to our Fiber network, so is the advantage of being on Fiber being realized. Besides the speed, our infrastructure is much more reliable than an antenna-based internet solution, which is especially important when you are in a hurricane zone, as we are in St. Maarten. With Fiber, we can put customer internet connections underground, where they are protected from wind, rain and flying debris,” continued Mr. Parent.

The CCO says another important advantage from a user perspective, is the opportunity for customers to take advantage of many TelEm Group services, including Triple Play packages that combine Landline with IPTV and internet connections.

Mr. Parent says along with this campaign, TelEm Fiber is stepping up its presence in various neighborhoods during the month of April in a bid to connect a record number of customers to the new Fiber infrastructure.

“We are rolling out in the St. Peters and Betty’s Estate area right now. We have just finalized Madame Estate, Philipsburg, Simpson Bay and Pointe Blanche. Up next is St. John’s and Ebenezer.

“The general public have seen contractors working diligently around the island in various areas pulling cables and connecting streets with a good portion of the network already in place and connections ready to be made. With the new offers and promotions this month we are confident there are many people out there who will not want to miss out.

“Rollout is now progressing at a very fast pace, so residents who are interested in finding out when their neighborhood is ready, can check for themselves by enquiring at any TelEm Group location, by following us on Facebook or by visiting www.telem.sx/fiber” stated the Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Parent.

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Regional BPW organizations to continue to strengthen their partnership and collaboration after successful online event

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - On Saturday, March 27th, 2021, BPW Concordia SXM, in collaboration with BPW Barbados and BPW Dominica, hosted a discussion under the theme: “CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE: Let’s Work Together For An Egalitarian World” to mark International Women’s Month 2021.

The word Egalitarian means:

  • Believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities (Bing.com).
  • A belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs. A social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people. (merriam-webster.com)

The objective of this event was to bring men, women and various organizations from the Caribbean together to discuss gender equality and other forms of discrimination.  The 2nd aim was to create a unified platform to help foster partnerships between various organizations that will help promote progress in achieving an egalitarian world.

The virtual gathering fittingly opened with the song “Ubuntu” by Colby and Awu as registrants tuned in from across the Caribbean, Europe, South and North America at different times to listen to and interact with the 12 panelists, comprising of (listed in alphabetical order of first names):

  • Ms. Abigail Christmas, Founder Perfect In My Own Skin organization (Dominica)
  • Mr. Anderson Langdon, Head of Family Planning (Barbados)
  • Ms. Cassandra Richardson, Co-Founder Wild Flower Institute (DSXM)
  • Mrs. Danielle Chance-Glasgow, Founder United Women’s Book (FRSXM)
  • Mr. Fabian Sargeant, President of the Men’s empowerment network support group to champion the cause of men. (Barbados)
  • Ms. Hélene Micot-Bride, President of Soroptimist & Le Manteau (women’s shelter FRSXM).
  • Ms. Lyndell Danzie-Black, Managing Director of Cerulean (Guyana)
  • Mr. Phoenix Belfield, Economist & radio host (Dominica)
  • Ms. Ramona Riley, President of Prominent Women’s organization (DSXM)
  • Ms. Shara Edwards, Owner of Events Management and Market Enterprise – BPW Dominica
  • Ms. Valérie Damaseau, Honorable 1st Vice President of the Collectivité of St. Martin
  • Ms. Vanessa Fraser, Director Safe Haven organization (battered women’s shelter)

The well selected and knowledgeable panel did not disappoint as each delivered a content-rich speech on the topic from varying angles, which sparked healthy discussions with the audience. Topics covered included:

  • Gender equality, gender equity and their impact on our societies.
  • The prevalence of spousal abuse, its contributing factors and biases that promote the behavior.
  • The need for men and women to see each other as allies instead of adversaries.
  • Societal expectations that are imposed only on the female gender, whilst systemically being more accepting of the male gender for the same given situation or action.
  • The need for change in the legal systems to support gender egality.
  • The need for more unity amongst women and call to action for women to uplift each other. instead of competing with and bringing each other down.
  • The societal pressures inflicted on single, unmarried and women without children.
  • The need for the 2 genders to become actionable agents of change by first introspecting in order to identify each’s own inherent biases.
  • The dangers of body shaming & the need for humanity to accept each individual with their own uniqueness such as shape, size, height, disability etc.
  • The importance of developing good self-esteem and self-love to combat spousal abuse and other societal issues.

It is a known fact that we all have biases or prejudices. Prejudice is forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case and Bias is an inclination or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective on a topic. The common message from all the Panelists was that to become agents of change towards achieving an egalitarian world, we must first introspect, identify our own biases and prejudices, then we must stop acting on them.

The three club presidents, Kathia Magdeleine (BPW Concordia SXM), Nicole Alleyne-Phillips-Ayikpa (BPW Barbados) and Rhoda St. John (BPW Dominica), were very grateful to the panelists for the outstanding work done as well as to the registrants for their attendance and support. This means that to change we must know ourselves, what’s your bias?

The three clubs plan on continuing to strengthen their partnership and collaboration with other organizations, including men’s organizations.

BPW is an international non-profit women’s empowerment organization that helps women through networking and skill building. The organization is open to male membership under its “Fellows” program. For more information, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Emmanuel questions what PM meant with “enough liquidity”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A statement on St. Maarten’s liquidity position by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and a non-statement by Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion on the same subject, is resulting in more confusion from the NA/UP government, said Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday, adding that the game of making general and empty statements by government continues to do a disservice to the country.

MP Emmanuel pointed out that on Monday, as quoted in The Daily Herald, the Prime Minister “boastfully said” that the country is not flat on its back when it comes to finances and that “we do have for sure enough liquidity for us to continue to have this discussion.” The PM was referring to talks with State Secretary Knops regarding the freezing of liquidity support for St. Maarten.

The very same day, Emmanuel continued, the Minister of Finance was in Parliament and was asked what St. Maarten’s current liquidity position is. He could not answer and assured Parliament that it would receive the answer that same day. That information has not been provided Emmanuel said, “and has never been provided by the Finance Minister who have been asked for this specific information for months.”

MP Emmanuel said the Prime Minister has to realize that at this stage, general and empty statements only makes her government look worse. “What have we heard from this Prime Minister when it comes to St. Maarten’s finances? We heard that we had no choice. We heard that cutting salaries and benefits was a must. We heard that we were dead broke so we had to accept draconian conditions. All of a sudden now, we have liquidity. But what does this mean exactly?” MP Emmanuel asked.

He questioned if the PM’s statement means that St. Maarten can now meet its financial obligations and if so for how long. “Do we have enough confidence in the economy now to say we are good moving forward? What is this based on exactly? Will this mean getting the law enforcement personnel their money? Can we go back to overtime pay and lift the cuts on civil servant benefits? And what about the vacation pay that the Audit Chamber said was cut illegally? Does it mean that you are in a position to tell State Secretary Knops to keep his money? What is it?” the MP questioned.

He continued: “The Prime Minister made it sound like St. Maarten’s current liquidity is at a level where it somehow gives her leverage in a discussion with the Dutch about liquidity support. And if so, why have we not heard her say thanks, but no thanks, if the conditions for liquidity support are as bad as she says they are. The Prime Minister seems to be grasping at any opportunity to sound credible but still cannot or is incapable of speaking plainly and telling the truth. There are contradictions on almost everything.”

As for Finance Minister Irion, Emmanuel said he has asked the Minister since mid-2020, before the government signed the agreement with Holland, what exactly the country’s liquidity position is. “Not a word from the Finance Minister. Yet, the picture was painted that we had to accept the Dutch conditions, literally based on his word and no factual information. As usual, here we are again, still no answer but the PM can boast that we are not on our back. So if we are not on our back, tell us how are we standing?”

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