Thursday, July 07, 2022

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten (Sunday, July 18, 2021) —For the first time, since the establishment of SZV ten (10) years ago, the organization has received the second-highest rating of an ‘Auditor’s Opinion’ on the financial statement. SZV received a “Qualified Opinion” for the 2020 financial statement, which was audited by the government audit bureau, StichtingOverheids Accountants Bureau (SOAB).

The auditor’s report emphasized compliments to SZV, for the increasing improvements over the years in the financial management of the social & health insurance funds. A step up from the ‘Disclaimer of Opinion’ received in previous years, indicating that the 2020 financial statement of SZV presents a fair representation of the organizations financial condition.

SZV Director Mr. Glen A. Carty, received SOAB’s report last week, and commented as follows; “Needless to say, I’m proud of the outcome of the SOAB audit of our 2020 financial statement. Receiving the ‘qualified opinion’ is an extremely important accomplishment for SZV. I’m thankful to our team of professionals who continue to work tirelessly so we can realize our goals. Over the years, we have faced many challenges in safeguarding the stability of the health care funds. A key element in the milestone we celebrate today and SZV’s future successes, is our partnership with the government, which has been strengthened through the cooperation with the Minister of VSA Mr. Omar Ottley and Minister of Finance Mr. Ardwell Irion. I’d like to thank the Ministers for not shying away from longstanding issues that needed to be addressed for SZV to improve its financial position, increase legal compliance and implement safeguards to our health care system. Without their result-driven and timely actions, SZV would be very limited in executing our tasks in the most complete manner. This commitment from our government partners has been a welcomed change for SZV and our stakeholders, but most importantly, our insured residents will be the biggest winners, gaining the security of quality and affordable health care options.”


The SOAB audit report includes several acknowledgments relating to the professionalism, transparency and cooperation of SZV; “We appreciate how forthcoming the SZV professionals have been. Because it became clear that the organization already has been contemplating various feasible actions, our discussions on possible recommendations were practical and efficient.” Automation of operations has been an important prerequisite for improving the organizations efficiency in financial management, reporting, improving service and introducing self-service client options. A pillar for tangible change outcomes, the mandate for automation, stems from the SZV 3.0 strategy implemented by Director Glen A. Carty in 2015.

The local impact of the pandemic pushed SZV to fast-track necessary automation changes that were delayed since 2017, due to Hurricane Irma. In 2020, SZV was able to realize the implementation of the new insured client portal “MySZV” and added new service requests to the Employer Portal. The latter becoming the online application platform for employers to request government Business Payroll Support, the financial aid response made available to companies who encountered hardships in keeping their employees on the payroll as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The execution of the program was entrusted to SZV by the Sint Maarten government, in part due to organizations agility in implementing the technology to carry out the program in the midst of the global health crisis.

“This is a really great achievement for us. I’m proud to see the result of our hard work, professionalism and embrace of technology reflected in the feedback of the auditor’s report. We are becoming a very data-driven organization, our automation journey is transforming the way we work from the inside out. This trajectory is helping us to become more self-reliant, as was acknowledged in the SOAB report. All of these developments, benefits not just SZV but strengthens our position to add more value to our health care landscape and to our government partners, locally and abroad.” – SZV Chief Financial Officer Mr. Elton Felisie

Noted in the auditor’s report, however, due to no fault of its own, is that the SZV has been implementing outdated social and health insurance legislations, posing a risk to the financial health of the funds and challenge in meeting legal compliance in some areas. As an executing body, with an advisory role, SZV has been proactive in drafting legislative changes that better reflect the current realities faced by the country, that are having adverse effects on the health care funds. It is only in recent years, that SZV has seen some progress in government collaboration to update the respective laws.

“I congratulate SZV on what is truly a milestone to be celebrated. SZV always hits the ground running and I’ve seen nothing but their sheer commitment to not only get things done, but to introduce innovative ways to transform our country’s health care system and access to it. The ability of SZV to execute its tasks in the most professional and compliant manner is a shared responsibility that I take very seriously. The matters brought to my attention by SZV, are primarily long-standing issues that require a more hands-on approach from the government as a partner. My goal is to ensure that we can finally address these issues with sustainable solutions. We’ve already started with several steps to update legislations to further implement new costs savings measures for the purchase of prescribed medications, access to the ZV medical insurance fund for persons 62+ and increasing the ZV wage limit as per January 1, 2022. The list is long, but each item that benefits our people and the generations to come, will have my dedicated interest.” – Minister of VSA Mr. Omar Ottley

The auditor’s report further comments; “…we also would like to emphasize the positive developments that SZV has shown in its aim to improve spending public means on public goals in the social domain of Sint Maarten.” Minister of Finance, Mr. Ardwell Irion, in his congratulatory statement to SZV shared; “The collaborations with Mr. Carty and his team have always been solution-oriented. One of the challenges in receiving the auditor’s ‘qualified opinion’ in the past, was contributed to the government debt to SZV. Despite the many challenges that the country has been facing, SZV has always been a team player with the government to support fair and balanced approaches in addressing financial issues. I’m proud to say that we are making more progress to resolve the related issues of government’s debt to SZV.”

There are four (4) types of Auditor’s Opinions, these are listed here from best to least favorable: unqualified opinion, qualified opinion, disclaimer of opinion and adverse opinion. SZV will make the condensed 2020 financial statement available on its website www.szv.sx in the coming weeks.

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

“Representation Is the Bare Minimum”: Modeling’s Biggest Stars Speak Out