A delegation of the Public Entity Saba, headed by Commissioner Bruce Zagers, has arrived in the Netherlands for a working visit. Establishing the task force priorities for economic development, reducing the cost of living, improving connectivity, poverty eradication and sustainable development are some of the focal points for the talks in The Hague. On the agenda are meetings with Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Rob Jetten, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Mark Harbers, State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen, and Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, including Joba van den Berg of the CDA party and Jorien Wuite of the D66 party.
A major highlight of the visit will be the official launching of the Task Force Cost of Doing Business at the Ministry of BZK with State Secretary Van Huffelen on Wednesday, September 14. The objective of the Task Force will be to find solutions for long-term issues that require a comprehensive approach such as the postal code and citizen service number (BSN), banking services, real estate services, notarial services, digitization, telecommunication and internet services, permits, diversification, movement of people and goods and tax measures.
This week and next week, the delegation will meet with civil servants at several ministries, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS), the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).
Topics that will be discussed with the ministries include joint measures to lower the cost of living, poverty eradication initiatives, prospective investments in renewable energy, issues with connectivity and high airfares, housing, cultural affairs, agricultural projects, and sports and healthy lifestyle initiatives.
At some of the ministries, the talks will focus on securing structural funding for the work that is being done on Saba in the interest of the community. Two of these departments are the Public Health Department and the Community Development Department, which, since their inception in respectively 2015 and 2017, have been working with incidental funding.
The Public Entity Saba is seeking structural funding which will secure that these departments can continue and even expand their work for the Saba community in the areas of healthcare, healthy lifestyle, social domain, poverty eradication, and employment.
During the individual talks with MPs Van den Berg and Wuite on Thursday, September 8, Commissioner Zagers addressed the different challenges that the Saba people face such as banking, connectivity, poverty, the high cost of living, and high energy prices.
Members of the Saba delegation, aside from Zagers, include Island Secretary Tim Muller, Head of the Public Health Department Jane O’Flynn, Senior Policy Advisor Nicole Johnson, and the representative of the Community Development Department, Lucrecia Paulina. The delegation travels back to Saba at the end of next week.