More engagement with the islands

The Govern­ing Accord of the new Dutch Government titled “Confi­dence in the future,” which was presented on Tuesday, dedicates three paragraphs to Kingdom Relations. The new Dutch Government is showing more engagement with the islands.

“The Netherlands is con­nected to the Kingdom parts in the Caribbean through a long-shared history. Our mu­tual connection was recently again confirmed when the Windward Islands were hit by a hurricane. Our connec­tion requires constructive cooperation with the Carib­bean Netherlands and the autonomous countries within our Kingdom,” it was stated in the first two lines.

The uncertain political situ­ation in Venezuela and some other neighbouring countries in South America makes co­operation extra urgent. “Cooperation in the Caribbean region, with the European Union (EU) and with inter­national organisations makes a further positive develop­ment of the Kingdom rela­tions possible.”

Kingdom relations also brings with it a responsibil­ity, in particular for the guar­anteeing of the integrity of government and of effective law enforcement and border control, it was stated. “The Kingdom Council of Minis­ters will see to this based on the Kingdom Charter.”

The special responsibil­ity the Netherlands has for the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba was highlighted. “The priority on the islands is the improv­ing of economic prospects by, among other things, strengthening the infrastruc­ture and the alleviating of poverty.”

The new government, which will be installed shortly, promised additional invest­ments in the Caribbean Netherlands on the condi­tion that good governance and financial responsibility are guaranteed on a suffi­cient level. Dutch invest­ments on the islands have to be supported by a budget for maintenance, more than is currently the case.

A stronger coordinating role of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Rela­tions BZK will be arranged, with the associated budget. The Governing Accord also stated that the Dutch part of the budget for the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard will be transferred from the BZK Ministry to the Ministry of Defence and will be adapted to facilitate optimal perfor­mance of tasks. On an annual basis, an additional 10 mil­lion euros will be available for the Coast Guard.

Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Par­liament representing the parties working together in a new government expressed their satisfaction about the paragraphs on Kingdom Re­lations.

Member of Parliament (MP) Andre Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD par­ty, the largest coalition part­ner, referred to the Kingdom Relations section as “warm paragraphs,” especially where it concerned the Car­ibbean Netherlands. “There is room for improvement there. Things have to get bet­ter for the islands,” he told The Daily Herald. He lauded the decision to give the BZK Ministry a more coordinat­ing role with an associated budget.

As for the relations within the Kingdom and the role of the Netherlands in the Dutch Caribbean, Bosman said there must be “clear agree­ments” with straightforward consequences if the islands do not stick to these agree­ments. He said the increased engagement of the Neth­erlands should go together with more predictability and clear agreements.

MP Antic Diertens of the Democratic Party D66 said she was happy that the Dutch Government together with the Caribbean Nether­lands and the autonomous countries within the King­dom would get to work to strengthen the islands’ econ­omies. “We are one Kingdom and together we will work on the future in an optimistic, constructive way,” she said. MP Joba van den Berg of the Christian Democratic Party CDA said she was happy with the Governing Accord. “It is clearly stated that the Netherlands has a special re­sponsibility to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The gov­ernment wants to improve the economic development, reduce poverty and improve infrastructure. For this, extra budget has been allocated.” Van den Berg said she was satisfied with the fact that the necessary attention would be paid to ensure the integrity of administration and effec­tive law enforcement and border control. “It is there­fore good to see that the budget for the Dutch part of the Coast Guard is increased by 10 million euros.”

The Daily Herald.

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