The members of the Island Council of Saba left Friday, for their annual working visit to the Netherlands. During the weeklong trip the Island Council will visit both Amsterdam and The Hague. The Island Registrar has prepared a full agenda of meetings and appointments.
One of the key meetings of the delegation will be with the Dutch Parliament’s Standing Committee for Kingdom Affairs.
The Island Council will give their official remarks and position on the Cabinet’s response to the Spies Committee Report. The intention of the meeting is to build on the Council’s previous standpoint throughout the Constitutional Evaluation, with a few extra critical areas which in the Council’s opinion merit to be taken along in any discussions related to the Evaluation.
Both the Executive and Island Councils can find themselves in the Evaluation reports, but do not agree with several of the positions taken in the Cabinet’s response.
The main points are the defining (or setting) of not only a qualitative norm, but also a quantitative norm with regard to the “for the Netherlands acceptable level of provisions.”
“We are pleased to see certain measures being suggested in the standpoint, but it is not enough. If we are to combat poverty, for example, efficiently and effectively, we need to have clear goals as outcomes and a more holistic approach than is suggested in the Cabinet’s standpoint.
“It is the Council’s position that this can be better realized in a more efficient and effective manner if several of the tasks (and the required means) are transferred to the local government, rather than cementing these in the hands of the national government. A few of such tasks, which can structurally improve economic development and contribute to poverty alleviation, will be tabled with the various stakeholders in the meetings throughout the week. Such as the issuance of fisheries licences and the provision to give Saba the option to provide a supplementary subsidy for low income households until a structural methodology is prepared, implemented and proven effective to combat property,” the Island Council stated in a press release.
The Island Council will request that the National Government forfeit the “interest-free loans” to create more budgetary aid (free allowance) or at least allow for extended repayment options, as is customary with municipalities in the European Netherlands.
The delegation will also have the opportunity to attend the debate in the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber on the Spies Report as observers.
All day Tuesday and Wednesday morning the Saba delegation will take part in the annual congress of the Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG, during which the Island Council members have the opportunity to meet (new) colleagues, exchange ideas with other local municipal representatives, and enhance their networking system.
Booths with an abundance of information on communication, courses, products, and many other relevant tools to the enhancement of a municipality’s performance will also be on display.
Wednesday afternoon, the Saba delegation will visit agro-industry company Bejo, whose mission is to develop and market starting material for the worldwide production of vegetables, which have added value for the entire food chain.
With agricultural development being an area of concern of the Island Council, this visit is to provide insight into what services and products could mean for Saba, with a specific focus on seed supply, product development, customer service, and overall logistics in Central America and the Caribbean.
On Thursday, the delegation will meet with Second Chamber Members. On Friday, there is a workshop on the laws governing the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba WolBES provided by VNG, an exploratory visit to the Aruba House, and a social gathering and factfinding mission with Saba students in the Netherlands. The Council members will return home on Sunday, June 12.
The Island Council said it is “looking forward to a productive working visit, which will be in favour of the further development and wellbeing of the island and its inhabitants.”
The Daily Herald.