Saba delegation meets Dutch Parliamentarians

The Saba del­egation led by Commissioner Bruce Zagers met with several members of the First and Sec­ond Chambers of the Dutch Par­liament last week. The meetings were deemed constructive and inspiring.

The Saba delegation met with members of the First Cham­ber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations and with members of the Second Cham­ber’s Committee for Kingdom Relations Alexander Pechtold of the democratic party D66, Joba van den Berg of the Chris­tian Democratic Party CDA and Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) during the first week of its visit to the Netherlands. The delegation provided an update on the recovery process following Hurricanes Irma and Maria during these meetings, and outlined the Saba Govern­ment’s goals for the coming pe­riod.

Everyone was enthusiastic to know how things are going on Saba, stated Zagers. “We. were well received, and everyone was complimentary about Saba’s progress and stability. There seems to be broad support to tackle the poverty issue on the is­lands. This was evident in all the meetings that we had,” he said. “We stressed the importance of putting together a poverty-allevi­ation package before the study on the social minimum is com­pleted in a few months. No one will be surprised when the study shows that the social minimum at this point it too low. Having a package prepared before the Spring Memorandum (“voor­jaarsnota”) of the Dutch Gov­ernment ensures that changes can happen in 2019.”

The delegation also elucidated its new approach regarding the division of tasks. Saba has lob­bied for more responsibilities for some years, but there has been little progress to achieve any tangible results. Through this new approach Saba is seek­ing a shared responsibility in the area of the local social affairs office and the granting of work permits.

“Nov that we have our own Social Affairs Department we would like to create a one-stop­shop where the Central Gov­ernment Service RCN and the Saba Government join forces and work closely together with other stakeholders to mitigate the bureaucratic struggle that we all sat in the domain of work­ing permits and social benefits,” Zagers said. He said this idea had been well-received in The Hague. At the same time, it was observed that much needs to be done to ensure that this goal will be achieved.

Other issues discussed during the meetings with the Dutch Par­liament included the limited air access to the island, the rebuild­ing of the harbour and its impact on economic development, as well as the government finances. The delegation will continue to work on the Saba agenda with the stakeholders in the Nether­lands in the coming days. Ad­dressed will be, among other things, poverty alleviation, the reduction of the high cost of living and the high cost of do­ing business, the government fi­nances and the division of tasks.

The Daily Herald.

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