New State Secretary of Kingdom relations and Digitalising Alexandra van Huffelen said on Monday that she wants to visit the Dutch Caribbean islands as soon as possible.
“I look forward to meeting the people in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom,” she stated on Twitter after the swearing in ceremony at Palace Noordeinde. In the afternoon, Van Huffelen and her predecessor Raymond Knops signed the transfer documents at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK.
It is not known as yet when the new state secretary, who is a member of the Democratic party D66, will visit the islands. On January 19, she will be present at her first debate with the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to discuss developments in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
On January 21, Van Huffelen will partake in a meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers where a couple of difficult and important decisions have to be made with regard to the next tranche of liquidity support for Aruba and the deviation from the Financial Supervision Law to allow Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten to have a budget deficit.
Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes on Monday sent a letter to outgoing State Secretary Knops to thank him, on behalf of the people of Aruba, for the cooperation in the past four years, and especially for the support during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Even though we did not always agree on things, together and with mutual respect, we did achieve important milestones for Aruba and for the Kingdom. Not all our goals were met, but together we made important steps for a strong and resilient Aruba, and we are very grateful for that. I wish you the very best in the future,” said Wever-Croes in her short letter to Knops.
Bonaire Commissioner James Kroon also thanked Knops for his work, also for trying to improve the relations between the islands, in particular the Caribbean Netherlands, and The Hague. Kroon said that with the input and collaboration of Knops, Bonaire was able to set a number of steps forward in the area of finances, good governance and infrastructure.
The Bonaire Commissioner also praised Knops for bringing colleague ministers and state secretaries to the Caribbean Netherlands on his working visits so they could see the bottlenecks for themselves. “I am sure that I speak on behalf of many people in Bonaire when I say thank you to Raymond Knops for his input and wish him success for the future,” said Kroon.
Both Kroon and Wever-Croes welcomed new State Secretary Van Huffelen and said they looked forward to working with her, in a good atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect in benefit of the islands and the kingdom.
“D66 has shown in the past years that it wants the best for the Caribbean Netherlands, so I am confident that we can do good things together in the corning years. I hope that the new state secretary will come soon to meet us,” said Kroon.
Wever-Croes said she had a positive first digital meeting with the new state secretary on Monday. “She showed a lot of interest for Aruba and the other countries in the kingdom. I am sure that it will be an interesting period during which we will accomplish great things for Aruba. I told her that I hope we can have solid relations in which we take each other’s visions and values into consideration so together we can develop new opportunities within the kingdom and we can again stand on our own feet.”
Wever-Croes said in a press release that Van Huffelen showed a lot of interest on how things were going in general in Aruba, how the economy and healthcare were faring. She informed the state secretary that despite the high COVID-19 infections, the situation at the hospital was under control.
She also said that Aruba was managing the fact that the United States has put the island in a higher risk category, and that even though there are cancellations, it was a good sign that tourists were still visiting.
The Daily Herald.