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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news every 2 weeks for St. Barths Online!
  February 24, 2003 - Issue # 31
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   EDF urges island to be more energy-conscious
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   Island political and business leaders recently met with the regional management team of EDF, the nationally owned Electricity Company. The Guadeloupe directors cut to the chase and warned their audience that if the island did not cut back on its energy consumption, it was going to find itself dependent on neighboring St. Martin to meet its needs. In the past decade, the island has doubled its consumption of electricity, a trend that doesn't seem likely to abate, considering a growing resident population, more building and construction, and a steady flow of tourists, especially during peak seasons. Confronted with the chronic energy shortages, state officials prompted EDF to study the possibility of laying down an underwater relay cable between St. Martin and St. Barth. When a shortage occurs, St. Barth would be able to draw its additional energy from St. Martin. The plan has been met with hostility by St . Barth's EDF staff, who associates it with lowered plant production and job cuts. Energy cutbacks will, of course, depend on the local government's ability to pace its development and control construction, which in turns depends on its will to come up with a new zoning plan. In any event, the Energy Company is looking for ways to cut its costs. Not only is the cost of supplying energy to St. Barth two to three times higher than in other parts of France, but a local fuel tax will be putting a big dent in the company's profit margins. The fuel tax was levied by the municipality over one year ago, a tax authorized in jurisdictional rewrites and transfers-of-power accorded during the senatorial meetings on France's overseas departments. For the community, the fuel tax is a way of funding many of its projects, like road maintenance, repairs and improvement. Though EDF contested the legality of the fuel tax and refused to pay, they were recently ordered by the courts to do so. As a result, EDF will be paying out approximately 1 million Euros in fuel tax per year.
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   Conservative budget
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   The island's council members will soon be voting on the municipal budget. With the major political issue- St. Barth's bid for independence from Guadeloupe-still unresolved, elected officials will play it safe and concentrate on paying off the debts incurred from the two rather sizable construction projects that were executed last year, the new incineration plant and the new town hall. Budgetary conservatism seems even more in order given the fact that local leaders do not know, in the event that independence is granted, how much access St. Barth will have to European funds. Until now, the European Union partnered the island's more important projects by providing an average of 40% of their financing. Local leaders will use that figure as a negotiating base in future talks with the government concerning the subject.
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   Saint Barth adds some newcomers to its business economy
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   Some new businesses have been added to the St. Barth landscape this season, making for buzz among locals and tourists alike. Nikki Beach, already familiar to many travelers because of its Miami Beach and St. Tropez businesses, is a restaurant bar located where the old Pelican restaurant in St. Jean used to be. The owners of Nikki Beach also purchased the Deck, a bar located in Gustavia harbor, and have reopened under the name of La Luna. David Matthews, owner of the Eden Rock hotel and restaurants, recently bought the Filao Beach hotel. Finally, Le Colonial, a Eurasian restaurant was bought out and converted into an all-white palace of style, serving French, Italian and Belgian specialties.
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   Happy Hundred!
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   The de Bruyn Hospital in St. Barth recently pulled out the red carpet to celebrate an occasion that doesn't happen every day. Three of its permanent elderly residents are now over 100 years old. Though it might sound like a record, at least for the region, one hospital staff member regretted that another Caribbean island had St. Barth beat. The hospital's oldest 'gal', Douchi, turned 107. Though deaf and blind, she participated in a colorful, very local birthday celebration among family, friends, hospital workers who turned up to wish her and Miss Irmise, the other birthday girl, who turned 100, a wonderful and healthy new year.

  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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