Kingdom Representative Gilbert Isabella addresses the residents of Statia – Updated Dec 7

Dear Residents of St. Eustatius,

Due to recent developments in the relationship and communication between the Public Entity St. Eustatius and the Dutch Central Government and recent local developments on St. Eustatius, as Kingdom Representative I have the responsibility to inform inhabitants of St. Eustatius about the position of the Dutch Central Government.

As residents of St. Eustatius you have followed the developments this past year and more so in recent weeks. Together we have been working to implement the Plan of Action for almost one year now. However, there is not enough improvement and progress overall remains insufficient. That insufficient progress is being made is not only an observation of the Dutch Central Government and the Kingdom Representative. The Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT), in its most recent publication (Reaction Second Implementation Report 2016 Public Entity St. Eustatius) dated October 28th, has drawn the same conclusion.

Letters sent recently by the local government representatives to the various Ministries of the Dutch Central Government and my person as  Kingdom Representative, indicate there is a clear misunderstanding among parties on St. Eustatius regarding roles, responsibilities, process and procedures. The Dutch Central Government has been working diligently to help St. Eustatius improve it administrative as well as financial management capacity through the implementation of the Plan of Action drafted and approved in September 2015.

During the past several months I have offered the Executive Council  support in different areas. This offer of assistance is to collaborate on the implementation of the Plan of Action, to further work out the details of projects to be executed in cooperation with relevant partners such as Nustar, Infrastructure & Environment, Economic Affairs, Woonlinie Housing Corporation and others. Unfortunately, this offer for assistance has not been accepted.

This past year the Dutch Central Government has worked tirelessly to help St. Eustatius fill the most important vacant positions (Interim Island Secretary, Finance Unit and Personal Affairs) in order to help carry out its responsibility in accordance with established rules/guidelines. Additional expertise was made readily available on island to assist at the Finance Unit and Civil Registry Office. Civil servants in various Ministries in The Hague were working closely with the Executive Council and with Unit Managers to help implement the Plan of Action with the sole objective of helping Statia to function at a higher level administratively and financially.

At the start of the implementation of the Plan of Action it was agreed that because costs for executing the Plan of Action in 2016 were not regular execution tasks of the Public Entity, the Ministry would fund a substantial part of the costs.

In a letter dated November 10th the Director of the Ministry in reaction to a letter of the Executive Council dated October 27th has stated, taking current developments into account,  an official report  and advise from the Kingdom Representative will be  send to the Minister  on short term.

Meanwhile the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has requested the Ministries in The Hague to limit the direct administrative and official contacts with your island territory to a necessary minimum, and in common cases to consult with the Kingdom Representative until there is visible effort  for cooperation and progress in the implementation of the Plan of Action.

I want to assure Statians that, at the political as well as the administrative level, every effort has been made to help strengthen the administrative and financial management capacity of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. This is a process that will take time. The Central Government is willing to help the Public Entity of St. Eustatius but the Public Entity of St. Eustatius needs to be a willing and responsible partner.

Good governance is something we will continue to focus on, promote, stimulate and encourage with all means available to us.

Despite all that is happening in Statia I have confidence in Statians. There are so many great examples of Statians doing well and making their contributions unhindered by the political situation. We just came out of a 3rd Education Conference, a positive Statia Day and great initiatives for and by the youth of Statia. This is for me proof that you as Statians want to do things in a good way.

As Kingdom Representative I will focus my efforts on civil society; working with well-meaning civil servants, supporting initiatives within the Statia community that are being carried out by social organizations with a clear interest for the people.

At the level of government, the Central Government is still willing to help the Public Entity of St. Eustatius but the Public Entity of St. Eustatius needs to be a willing and responsible partner.

Press release RCN

Update

No approval for budget Sint Eustatius

Minister Plasterk (of Interior and Kingdom Relations) has not approved the budget 2017 of St. Eustatius. The budget of the public entity does not comply with the requirements of the law. The Executive Council of St. Eustatius now needs to draw up a new draft budget as soon as possible. Minister Plasterk informed the Executive Council and the Island Council of St. Eustatius of this today.

According to the FINBES (Finance Law Public Entities BES) the Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations must give approval to a budget established by the Island Council. The St. Eustatius budget 2017 does not meet the requirements of the law because the estimated staff budget is too tight to meet the full staffing, no account was taken of contingencies, and the expenditure envisaged for the implementation of the action plan to put the administrative issues in order and under control, does not provide coverage.

It is now up to the Executive Council to quickly make a draft budget that complies with the law. The Financial Supervision BES will then again give an advice and after taking that advice into account, the new budget is offered to the Island Council to establish.

As long as no approval has been granted to the budget of 2017, all expenses and obligations that the island wants to make as of January 1st , 2017, must be submitted for approval to the Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations.

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One comment

  1. From the closing remarks expressed by the kingdom representative,there exist some negotiable differences between the central Government and the Public Entity of St Eustatius. The situation seems political and does warrant the intervention of a third observer,who will objectively mediate an amelioration policy to quell the rift, in the interest of both sides, to establish a “win win” position.For me its a position of ” Adhering and implementation to good governance’ policy,practice and procedures” which must form the basis, paramount to constituents desire and political will which will solve the indifferences. The general discussion must shift from an negative ideological position of “We vs Them” meaning Central Government against Island Council.

    I have attempted on divers occasions in past writings to start a conversation amongst small island decision makers, concerning the relevance for a paradigm shift on the way forward to socio economic development. In my discourse,I specifically mentioned the challenges facing small economies within the BES islands,such as Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, the effects on growth and plotting a way forward using the strengths and opportunities available at present. I am yet to hear as a response action, what is being effected by both sides of the divide
    . As a means to an end I would suggest that,pursuit of the policy statement, formulated by the Dutch Central Govt, which speaks in accordance with the articles pertaining to achieving good governance,financial management,rights and freedoms,through the means :
    1. The Financial supervision of countries of the Kingdom,under the Financial Supervision Act
    2. Benefits to be derived as a consequence thereof.

    These are not times for power politiking on small issues between these islands, which can have disastrous impacts and consequences on the social well being and existence of the people.
    The issue is not only about doing the right thing, but doing the right thing right!!

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