Statians speak their mind about state of their island

The Daily Herald writes that Statians of all walks of life gave their opinions on the state of the island five years after it became a public entity of the Netherlands during two round-table discussions organised by The Netherlands Institute for Social Research SCP at Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute.

A broad variety of residents gave their opinions on their everyday life after October 10, 2010, among them secondary school students, business people, leaders of organisations, a police officer and a nurse. The discussions were moderated by SCP researcher Clifton Walle from Curaçao.

The SCP research project will focus on several areas such as the general situation of the island, the education and health care systems, income, the employment situation and social welfare, security, the infrastructure and the government and administration system. The global factor may play a role in Statia’s declining economy and sharp increase of inflation, but the increase of taxes also played a big role in the loss of spending power for the population. “There is hidden poverty on the island,” it was said, especially among Statia’s senior citizens.

The change from the Netherlands Antillean Guilder to the US dollar also was not very helpful, especially because cost had increased, but salaries are “dormant.” The exorbitant cost of transportation, shipping and airfare was also mentioned as a price-increasing factor. Where housing is concerned it was stated that since the constitutional change it has become more difficult for people to obtain mortgages and loans to build their own homes. It was also stated that safety has decreased as the police force has been confronted with a loss in manpower. Under the former Netherlands Antilles it was easy to obtain assistance from St. Maarten, as the island was “just a stone’s throw away.” Also, the volunteers of VKE were entitled to assist the police, whereas now emergency assistance has to come from Bonaire, which is hundreds of miles away. “That does not help in emergency situations,” it was said. Saba and Statia should have all-round police offices with their own detectives. “The feeling of safety and security has long gone,” it was stated. Statia’s infrastructure is in a bad state, it was said. Since 10-10-10 only two roads were built.

The list of complaints is long. There is a lack in social housing and the cost of house rent has gone sky high. The quality of education has gone down, panellist claimed. Before 10-10-10 children received better results, thereafter the results have gone down, it was said. By contrast, it was admitted that health care has improved, but the system of medical referrals, mainly to Colombia, has become worse.

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