“Saba Package” signed (updated)

Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and Saba Commissioner Bruce Zagers signed the Saba Package, a comprehensive administrative agreement to further Saba’s development, at the end of a meeting with the other Caribbean Netherlands islands and the Netherlands in St. Eustatius on Thursday.

Commissioner Bruce Zagers (seated second from right) signs the Saba Package on Thursday, while State Secretary Raymond Knops (second from left), Commissioner Rolando Wilson (left) and State Secretary Tamara van Ark (right) look on. Standing is National Government Department RCN communications official Alida Francis.
(Photo GIS Saba)

The agreement aims to secure and further improve the good cooperation between the Dutch Government and the Public Entity Saba. Through the Saba Package, the two governments agree to address the challenges and opportunities on Saba, and commit to work on these together.

The Saba Package contains four main themes: social development, economic development, public order, safety and disaster management, and good governance. These four themes consist of 10 ambitions: eradicating poverty, strong social facilities, lowering the costs of doing business, economic impulses, investments in the physical domain and consolidation thereof, solutions for the various public order and safety issues, solutions for the various disaster management issues, different division of tasks whereby several tasks are transferred from the National Government to the Public Entity Saba, a service minded and solid government organization, and healthier government finances.

According to Commissioner Zagers, the signing of the Saba Package is a good example of a good cooperation between the local government and the national government. “Because of our stable administration and strong financial management, we were able to negotiate such a package which allows for a different approach for Saba in numerous areas which directly impact our island and people.”

Zagers explained that creating such a package was a complex exercise. But, he added, “There was determination on both sides to make this document a reality. Much has been done since we first initiated this package and as such, we are thankful for the coordinating role of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and the ministries that supported the individual initiatives.”

At the short signing ceremony on St. Eustatius Thursday, which was attended by Commissioner Rolando Wilson and State Secretary Tamara van Ark, Zagers emphasized that the Saba Package was a Saba initiative. “This is a document that we can be proud of. Now it comes to putting this package into practice. I see quick wins and topics that have been on the table for some time now. This is where we need some break throughs.”

Zagers said he was positive about the joint future steps. “This is a big moment for us. Saba and the ministries proved before that working together leads to good results for the island. When you have a good cooperation, you can achieve more in the best interest of the people, to improve their livelihood and their security. I look forward to the continued cooperation with the ministries.”

State Secretary Knops is content with the administrative accord. He applauded Saba’s initiative. “This package was a wish of Saba. It is their proposal, and it has the full support of the Dutch Government. Together we commit to make things better for the Saba people.”

According to Knops, the Saba Package fitted well in the more-for-more approach that he stands for. The Saba Package involves enhancing the island’s sustainability and it signifies a practical cooperation. This directly benefits the Saba people. I applaud that. The cooperation with Saba was already excellent and it will continue to be,” he said.

The Saba Package covers the period up until the end of 2022, and includes an agenda of execution from January to December 2019 with concrete agreements and goals, and a description of the tasks and responsibilities per ministry. The agenda is updated every year, and set in consultation between the Public Entity Saba and the National Government, which means that the goals and priorities remain current.

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