Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp is confident that St. Eustatius and Saba will meet the quality standards in the concept Law Electricity and Drinking Water BES, writes The Daily Herald.
Kamp expressed his confidence in a letter to the Dutch Parliament’s First Chamber, which still has to vote about the new law after it was approved by the Second Chamber in November 2015.
Both centre-democrat D66 and Christian party Christen Unie wanted additional information with regard to good governance and the quality of water and electricity services.
Minister Kamp explained that the draft law includes requirements for quality and good governance, since the involved companies have a monopoly position.
Bonaire, Statia and Saba were instructed to draft a plan to meet minimum requirements for distribution in the next five years.
“All companies are experienced in the area of generating and distributing power and water and in dealing with calamities,” Kamp said. “In 2015, the companies proved they could handle the management of complex situations, such as Legionnaires’ disease in Bonaire and severe ongoing drought on Saba and Statia.”
With regard to good governance, there will be an improvement from the current situation, where the island governments combine many tasks, such as shareholder, supervisor and issuer of concessions.
In the new situation, a supervisory board will be appointed by the Dutch Minister, who will also issue concessions, while the Dutch Consumer and Market Authority will monitor and approve prices.
Kamp also said the local authorities do not consider Dutch supervision on economic activities necessary, but on the other hand, understand that the Dutch government requires some kind of supervision on companies that receive substantial subsidies.
The Minister repeated an earlier promise to research possibilities for green energy. By mid-year he is to provide the full results of that study, but he added that the first solar power farm on Statia will become operational within a few months, while there are also plans for a second. Combined, these are to generate 44 per cent of all power on the island.
On Saba, there are plans for a solar power farm to generate 40 per cent of all power. “The percentage of green power on all three islands will increase from zero to an average 50 per cent within ten years’ time,” Kamp wrote.
The First Chamber will discuss Minister Kamp’s response next Tuesday, and then set a date to vote on the proposal