The Daily Herald writes that the Executive Council of Saba has presented visiting Minister of Interior and Kingdom Affairs Ronald Plasterk with the Saba Development Plan on Tuesday, a press release stated.
The establishment of a development plan has been a priority of the Executive Council since it was embraced by the Minister of Kingdom Relations during the Caribbean Netherlands week in The Hague in early 2013.
“Of all the islands, Saba is setting the example with a balanced development plan,” said the minister. “I think the plan is well thought out and it impressed me a lot”. The development plan provides a plan of approach for the Executive Council to introduce improvements to all policy areas (infrastructure, utilities, the environment, the economy, social affairs, and governance). With continued changes to the island, the Executive Council felt it was important to pursue a comprehensive vision for Saba.
The Executive Council sets its own priorities in the development plan, rather than having the island’s priorities set by the National Government. The plan strategically outlines all projects in the various policy areas that are of importance to the development of Saba in the short, medium and long term. An important aspect in this comprehensive approach is good cooperation between the different ministries and Saba along with coordination by the Minister of BZK, is the opinion of the Executive Council. “It is important to start with the projects that contribute most to the improvement of the economic and social situation of the island,” a representative of the council said. “Saba and the ministries should therefore together prioritise and choose which plans are to be executed.”
The Executive Council is of the opinion that the following projects should be a priority; implementing an airport master plan; decreasing harbour vulnerability and increasing maritime safety standards; guaranteed availability of drinking water; road infrastructure projects; social housing; waste management; environmental affairs and tourism.
In the Executive Council’s opinion, it is of utmost importance that the standard of living of Saba’s residents is improved and that the island becomes more self-reliant over time. It is the view of the Executive Council that a large number of the social problems are directly related to the limited economic development of the island. By increasing economic activity, wages can be increased, so that more families can rise above the poverty line.
The following social projects are of utmost importance: housing and quality of life; education and job counselling; raising social welfare, raising Old Age Pension (AOV) and adjusting the minimum wage to reflect the economic realities of Saba.
In the plan, the Executive Council calls for a thorough review of how the current resources are being distributed. This is also a topic of discussion for the 2015 Evaluation, which the Council considers of utmost importance for Saba’s population, economy and future development. Residents and businesses of Saba, along with the Executive Council and the Central Government have a vested interest in improving the economic and social conditions on the island. A balanced allocation of necessary resources will ultimately lead to a situation where Saba’s economic and social situation is brought to a level that is acceptable as part of the country of the Netherlands.