Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Mr. Ronald Plasterk, began his farewell tour of the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands on Saba on Monday August 14th. In meetings with the Island Council and the Executive Council of the Public Entity of Saba, talks centered on the good working relationship between the two parties, the achievements of the past years and areas that still require further development and progress.
The Minister had high praise for the Saban approach to working with the Ministries of the Dutch Central Government. “I truly appreciate the professional and businesslike manner in which you conduct your business. Continue to maintain this level of optimism” Both parties acknowledged that while much has been achieved the ambition is there to achieve even more in the foreseeable future. The Minister stressed that while people may not always be able to feel a direct result in their own pockets, today it still can be proven that there is better healthcare, free education, wider roads, electricity underground and more. The Minister assured the Saban government that there are more investments and developments to follow.
The Island and Executive Councils queried when the findings of the Spies Report will be implemented. According to Minister Plasterk this has already started by way of the Multi-Annual Plans that are currently being implemented on each island. He further remarked that the way forward will reflect in differentiation in the approach to working with each Public Entity. The bi-annual visits to the islands for working meetings between each Public Entity, the Director General of the Ministries at the CN Table and the directorate of Kingdom Relations will work towards this goal. The meeting also highlighted matters pertaining social welfare, the level of the free-allowance and the pension cuts.
Plasterk further asked the representatives not to accept the assumption that nothing has improved on Saba these past years. Driving around the island one can see many positive changes. “Saba is on the right track. Continue in that spirit”. The minister and delegation traveled to St. Eustatius on Monday afternoon for similar talks with the Island Council and the Executive Council.