The number of Island Council (IC) members in St. Eustatius and Saba will increase from the current five to eleven and nine, respectively, in 2027. The number of commissioners on these two islands will go from two to three per that date.
Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen announced this in a recent update to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament with regard to the law proposal to change the WoIBES, the general law that regulates the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Considering the relatively large number of tasks that the public entities have and the high work pressure of the local administrations, it has been proposed to increase the number of members of the Island Councils and Executive Councils of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
The public entities currently have a fixed number of IC members, which is significantly lower than in a municipality of similar size in the Netherlands, stated Van Huffelen. Bonaire has nine IC members and Saba and St. Eustatius, five each.
According to the state secretary, these numbers do not fit with the growth of the population since the WoIBES was implemented on October 10, 2010, when the three islands became public entities of the Netherlands.
“Furthermore, an increase of the number of Island Council members facilitates a broadening and differentiation of the political input from the population and in general strengthens the government capacity and the democratic control,” stated Van Huffelen.
The law proposal to amend the WolBES, which is currently in consultation and which should be presented to the Second Chamber before the summer next year, suggested to have the public entities tie into the regulation for Dutch municipalities, whereby the number of IC members is linked to the number of inhabitants, with a minimum of nine members.
This means that Saba’s IC will grow to nine members per January 1, 2027, St. Eustatius’s to 11 and Bonaire’s to 15 per January 1, 2027, and 19 per January 1, 2031. The number of Island Council members for Saba and St. Eustatius will not further increase in 2031.
In Dutch municipalities, the minimum number of aldermen is two. Saba and St. Eustatius currently each have two commissioners, and Bonaire three. The public entities have indicated in consultations with the Dutch government that they need more commissioners because of the large number of tasks and the high work pressure of the public entities.
It was agreed to introduce a minimum of three commissioners for each of the public entities. In the case of Saba and St. Eustatius the number would be three per January 1, 2027, and in Bonaire, four per January 1, 2027, and five per January 1, 2031. In Saba and St. Eustatius, the number of commissioners will remain at three.
Van Huffelen stated that an increase of the number of Island Council and Executive Council members was not the only way of strengthening the government capacity. She said the strengthening of knowledge and skills of current and future people’s representatives deserved attention as well.
In preparation for the increase in the number of Island Council and Executive Council members, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK will offer support to facilitate a broader participation from the (younger) population and education for current and future politicians. Van Huffelen stated in her letter to the Second Chamber that in the past period, there had been many consultations with the public entities with regard to the changing of the WoIBES and that she experienced these talks as “very constructive.”
The Daily Herald.