Local News
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By Cécile Lucot
    Cécile Lucot has been living in St. Barths for 9 years. Originally from Bordeaux, this professional journalist has been the editor-in-chief of St-Barth Magazine for 6 years. She is he press agent for Jeet Singh and his rock group Dragonfly. She writes regularly for regional magazines such as Mer Caraïbes and Tropical, and once or twice a month presents a synthese of the local news on St. Barths Online.
  August 15, 2003 - #5
  Political progress: preparing for a local referendum
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  The municipal council met on August 8, and after deliberation, voted to print a condensed version (one sheet 8 x 12") of the official request for political approval of the island‚s Overseas Collectivity status (COM).
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  The official request, published in the form of a 50-page booklet, describing in detail the responsibilities and duties of the future COM, was approved last April 30th by the municipal council and distributed to the voters of Saint Barth.
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  Last week, the elected officials voted unanimously to accept a 30-line text, a resume of the longer document, that clearly delineates the transfer of responsibility requested by the island, as well as how the new COM would function and be financed. After legal approval by the Sub-prefect, this concise text will be sent to the national government. It will also be publihsed in the "Official Journal" along with the presidential decree inviting the voters to participate in a local referendum.
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  Following the vote by the Municipal Council, Mayor Bruno Magras read a letter written Stéphane Diémert, a legal advisor to Brigitte Girardin, in answer to the question asking if the current social security program would be maintained if the island evolved into an Overseas Collectivity. The Overseas Minister‚s advisor confirmed that the island‚s passage to a COM was not incompatible with the application of the current social security laws, and that these laws would continue to apply to Saint Barth in its future status. Stéphane Diémert pointed out that this could have been different if the local government had requested to take over this area, which is not the case. He added, "as long as the collectivities can choose a "tailor-made" status, the government, in adopting the new status, will work with the desires of the local officials as long as they are approved by the population. The document presented to the voters of Saint Barth does not list the transfer of responsibility for the social regime (other than a transfer to St Barth from Guadeloupe for departmental responsibilities). There is no reason that the future project would progress in the opposite direction."
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  The mayor then invited the municipal council to ask any questions they might have. One asked if the question of residence had been clarified. The mayor answered that a fiscal agreement will be signed between the state and the COM to avoid double taxation and to clarify the concept of residence, a concept that will not be all that different from what is currently defined by French law.
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  Bruno Magras then announced that the referendum asking the island‚s voters to decide on the evolution of Saint Barth into a COM might take place before the end of the year. He also made clear that only the President of the French Republic could set the date for this island-wide event.
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  More to Come
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  Cécile Lucot
  
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