Sunday, September 20, 2020

September 4, 2020   SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is in the final phase after steering the process leading to the establishment of the “Soualiga Employer Association (SEA).” The establishment of the SEA is part of the process of nominating various representatives to the high council of state the Social Economic Council (SER).  A list of names will be submitted to the Prime Minister hopefully by the end of the week of September 7.

President of the COCI Supervisory Board Benjamin Ortega said on Friday that COCI was mandated by the Prime Minister back in April and given the task to follow a legally and sound process where names would be submitted to fill the positions on the SER based on the establishment of an umbrella employer organization to ensure a better representation of employers’ organizations on the board of the SER.

The appointment of the 2020-2023 board was put on hold until a new structure was put in place.

“We have read in the media several times press releases and statements made from another Employer Council that according to the aforementioned, are made up of four Associations that are known to the island. Members of one of these Associations have been on the board of SER for a number of years and is aware of the request of the Prime Minister with regards to the establishment of SEA through COCI.

“We took a holistic approach regarding this very important process that we were tasked with to carry out on behalf of the Government.  We consulted with a number of broad-based stakeholders and worked in unison according to the procedures of good corporate governance to reach the final stage of this process. 

“We have ensured that the right process has been followed and that all major employers have had the opportunity to be included and ultimately be a part of the SER,” Benjamin Ortega, President of the COCI Supervisory Board said.

Consultation sessions took place with the Banker’s Association, the Sint Maarten Insurance Brokers Association, the Taxi Association, the Chinese Merchants Association as well as with small and medium hotel sector representatives. 

In addition, letters were sent to Government-owned companies to inform them and request if they would be interested in joining the SEA.

Ortega added: “Although we are still in the process of engaging with as much relative businesses and associations to ensure we have a balanced representation in the names that we will put forward to the Prime Ministers office, we are extremely surprised and disappointed in the lack of inclusion and respect that the Employer Council has shown towards the country by disregarding the SER and the mandated request from the Prime Minister.

“The SER is not a pressure group, and hijacking the process of the request of the countries government without acknowledging nor contacting or including COCI or SER or any other business and associations can be considered presumptuous and disrespectful.

“It is important that the country has a SER board with a variety of businesses and government-owned companies that represent a large group of persons. The SER as an independent advisory body is comprised of independent experts, employee representatives (unions) and employer representatives (various companies/business owners through the SEA).

“The combination of employer, employees and independent experts in the SER, is the only official tri-part constellation which is in line with international best practices and the international United Nations Charter standard for organizations such as the SER. 

“Through the mandate given by the Honorable Prime Minister, the SEA is required to present three permanent members and three substitute members for the appointment on the SER board.

“We are now in the final stage at this juncture.  The SER needs to be up and running as soon as possible due to our current socio-economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Broad-based representation is needed in order to deal with the uncertainties that our country is currently facing for the foreseeable future.

“The SEA remains open to all businesses and Associations who would require their voice being heard at the level of the SER to ensure a balanced representation across the board. Interested in participating, contact should be made with COCI for details and confirmation,” Ortega concluded.

ATLANTA (AP) — Rapper and actor T.I. has settled civil charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he helped promote a fraudulent cryptocurrency. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, agreed to a civil settlement with the SEC that was announced Friday. He is paying a $75,000 fine and agreeing not to sell or market similar securities for at least five years. Harris got into trouble, the SEC said, because he used his social media accounts to promote FLiK, falsely claiming to be a co-owner, and asked an unnamed actor and comedian to also promote FLiK, providing language calling it T.I.’s “new venture.” The SEC says both of those moves broke federal laws against selling securities without registering with the SEC. The charges against Harris were part of a larger enforcement action against others including film producer Ryan Felton, who faces wire fraud and other charges in a 28-count indictment unsealed Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Legal advocates are lining up on both sides of actor Bill Cosby’s appeal as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court prepares to review his 2018 sex assault conviction. Cosby was the first celebrity to go on trial in the #MeToo era, and his appeal could resolve lingering questions about how the cases should be tried. For starters, the high court will try to clarify when other accusers can testify against a defendant — and when the additional testimony amounts to character assassination. Public defenders in Philadelphia, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in Cosby’s appeal, noted that courts have given conflicting guidance on the issue.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Council of Fashion Designers of America gave its top fashion awards on Monday to Gabriela Hearst for womenswear and Kerby Jean-Raymond for menswear. The two designers led a group of winners that the CFDA said was the most diverse in the 39-year history of the awards. It was the second honor in two days for Jean-Raymond, the prominent Black founder of the Pyer Moss label, who was also named Designer of the Year by Harlem’s Fashion Row in a virtual ceremony on Sunday. The CFDA winners also included Telfar Clemens, who won the accessories award, and Christopher John Rogers, who won for American emerging designer. All four were first-time winners.

NEW YORK (AP) — There’s a scene in a new documentary about Paris Hilton, where the so-called socialite is speaking with former classmates from a Utah boarding school. They joke about how on her reality series “The Simple Life,” Hilton pretended to be clueless over many things— including how to perform any sort of manual labor. One bluntly described it as “some straight-up (expletive),” as they all laughed. “I don’t think you had like a high-pitch voice back then,” was another observation. None of this is a surprise to Hilton. What’s revealed in “This is Paris,” which debuted for free Monday on Hilton’s YouTube channel, is that the ultra-glam, baby-talking young woman whose standard line was “that’s hot,” was a manufactured caricature not just for fame but self-protection, too.