Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament are supportive of Thursday’s action by Saba’s Island Council to stage a walkout in protest of the lack of structural funding by the Dutch government.
Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) immediately submitted written questions to now-Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops on Friday.
Van Raak asked Knops whether he understood the frustration of Saba’s Island Council about the fact that while the public entity has had its financial household in order for several years in a row, it receives insufficient structural funds to execute policies.
The Member of Parliament (MP) asked Knops whether he shared his opinion that the policy to have Saba carry out more tasks also meant that the public entity should have a bigger budget to do this.
“Do you share my opinion that Saba’s political stability and financial soundness offer room for an individual policy regarding Saba, separate from the joint policy for all three Caribbean Netherlands islands?” Van Raak wanted to know. He asked Knops to have talks with the Saba Island Council to restore mutual trust and to look into ways to arrange more structural funding and policy freedom for Saba.
“I understand Saba’s frustration. I am frustrated too about this matter, and so are many Members of the Second Chamber. The Minister has to act and make sure that we can live up to the promises that have been made to Saba,” Van Raak said in an invited comment.
“Saba has its finances in order. The Netherlands promised Saba that it could do more things on its own, so we also have to make sure that they get the funding to do just that. We need to place trust in the Saba government that it has the best intentions.”
MP André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party said the Saba Island Council certainly had a point. He said he had addressed the matter of the lack of structural finances for Saba during the handling of the 2020 Kingdom Relations budget in the Second Chamber last month.
“There needs to be structural funding for structural expenditures,” said Bosman, who noted that the matter of the division of tasks and the associated transfer of funds was still under discussion with the Dutch government.
MP Chris van Dam of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, of which Knops is also a member, said he would raise the Saba issue. “This is new to me. When the opportunity arises, I will most certainly seek clarity from the State Secretary, now Minister for a limited time,” he said.
MP Nevin Özütok of the green left party GroenLinks announced that she will be submitting questions on the reasons for the Saba Island Council’s protest. “It is very understandable that the Island Council wants to have a perspective about the funding. Wages have to be paid and you can’t leave your people living with this insecurity. Projects need to be executed and services need to be given to the community. Structural funding is necessary for all these things.”
Özütok remarked that the matter regarding the lack of structural funding had been brought up multiple times by the Saba government and by members of the Second Chamber. “This makeshift budgeting with incidental funds is unworkable and unacceptable. Saba is right to go into action. The Dutch government needs to take this issue seriously and come with a solution, pronto,” she said.
The Daily Herald.