On July 22nd, an article was released that the Acting Kingdom Representative (RV) was finally taking action to reprimand the Executive Councils of Bonaire and Saba and called for improved transparency in the publication of decisions taken by the Executive Council.
We are pleased that the RV has stepped in, as this has been an issue on Saba for some time now. In the name of transparency, the RV talks about the information flow from late 2022, but the reality is that this has been a recurring theme for way longer than that. Last year, the previous Island Council even passed a motion on the same topic.
“During the last 4 years as an Island Council member, I have been asking questions to the Executive Council verbally and in writing. It sometimes took 7 months before I received a reply to written questions, which should have been answered within 14 days, based on the law. Questions asked in the Central Committee Meetings are often answered directly. Questions asked verbally and in writing take much more time. Many times, the Executive Council never replied to my questions. After months of requesting, an answer was given simply because the pressure was growing. Besides answering questions asked, the Executive Council does not provide the Executive Council decision lists. Therefore, the Island Council and the community are kept in no man’s land”, said Island Council Member Hemmie Van Xanten.
On July 25th, Saba’s Executive Council released their counter statements in response to Acting Kingdom Representative Jan Helmond’s letter. PEP finds those counter statements contradictory, misleading, and confusing.
The Executive Council acknowledges that there are backlogs in information flow but state to be fully committed to transparency, yet do not fully agree with the contents of the letter from Jan Helmond and confirm that the improvement plan requested will be delivered before the date indicated.
The Executive Council talks about transparency but does not engage or involve the community. Information shared is always reactive as opposed to being proactive. This should not have escalated to the level of the RV. Still, instead of admitting that they are not executing their legal duties, they make excuses. We acknowledge that there are capacity issues at the Public Entity Saba, and this is a topic that has been discussed previously. Saba has limited resources, but how long will this excuse be valid? We wonder where the Executive Council’s priorities lie. How is this being worked on? Or are we going to continue using the lack of capacity excuse?, said Island Council Member Saskia Matthew
The Executive Council also speaks about actively communicating decisions on policies, initiatives, permits, and finances with the Island Council, publicizing on the website within a week after the meeting, and engaging the public and businesses in policy development through meetings and consultations. We look forward to this “vision” becoming an actual reality, as these ambitions are yet to occur.
Transparency requires honesty. When the Executive Council is ready to truly execute in a manner that fosters transparency and good governance, they can rely on the utmost support from the PEP Fraction.