The Task Force that was established in The Hague last week is a very welcome move to address some of the long-time, urgent matters for Saba, said Commissioner Bruce Zagers.
“Finally, a step in the right direction with a high-level task force that will focus on addressing the bottlenecks that impact our people, our business community, and our cost of living. We have been making these problems known for years and with this signing, we now have a commitment that these issues will be addressed,” said Zagers.
Zagers signed the Task Force kick-off document at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK on September 14, together with State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen and St. Eustatius Deputy Government Commissioner Claudia Toet.
The Task Force will work on solving a number of bottlenecks that were identified by the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius and in the inter-governmental agreements with the Dutch Government. These bottlenecks include postal code and citizen service number (BSN), banking services, notarial services, diversification of the economy, undivided estates (housing and real estate), digitization, telecom and internet services, residence and work permits, and movement of people and goods.
During the meeting with the State Secretary, Zagers specifically addressed some of these pressing matters. He explained how the lacking of proper banking services has been hampering Saba’s residents and businesses. He mentioned that the Saba Business Association (SBA) has been advocating for a solution for a very long time.
“When asked by the State Secretary which area I felt was the most important topic to focus on first, I suggested banking without hesitation. Our people and business community deserve better banking services in the widest sense. The current services that are available now are either limited or very expensive. We also need to create opportunities where people can have proper access to mortgages with affordable interest rates. Proper banking is essential for growth,” he said.
Zagers also spoke about the healthcare referrals system and the transport of patients, even though this is a matter that will be part of a separate evaluation and is not in the Task Force list of subjects. “This is an area that I see as a quick win to secure a means of better transportation for patients. WINAIR, which is partly owned by the Dutch Government, should be the primary means of transport while still making use of charter flights when needed. This is especially important for elderly people and people with mobility issues. Using WINAIR would add more flight capacity for Saba as well,” said Zagers.
The Task Force will be getting to work right away. There will be monthly meetings with the State Secretary to monitor the progress. “I am optimistic that this Task Force will be able to come up with practical solutions to these issues that have hindered our progress for years. We have high expectations and we hope for breakthroughs,” said Zagers.