Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen arrived on Saba on Tuesday morning, February 22 for a two-day visit.
The State Secretary came in with a charter flight of WINAIR from St. Eustatius and was met at the Juancho Yrausquin Airport by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, who gave her a brief explanation of the completed airport renovation project, the solar park and the construction of the new Fire Department.
Saba Electric Company (SEC) President Director Dexter Johnson and Head of Distribution David Leonce gave the State Secretary background information on the solar park, Saba’s plans to move to 100 percent renewable energy and the Saba Energy Strategy 2020-2025.
With a few stops along the way, the State Secretary went to The Bottom for a meeting at the Government Administration Building, first with the Executive Council and then with the Island Council. Main topics at these meetings included the good relationship between the Netherlands and Saba, the eradication of poverty and the reduction of the high cost of living, government’s strained financial situation and the need to increase the free allowance, and the challenges that Saba’s economy faces, in particular the banking system. For Saba, it is important that the 30 million-euro structural Caribbean Netherlands Envelope is used for the free allowance and to address the issue of livelihood.
In the afternoon, the State Secretary has a meeting with the Saba Business Association (SBA), she pays a visit to a single father at the social housing project, and has a meet and greet with the Saba Youth Council and a number of young professionals, representatives of the different political parties, the schools and entrepreneurs.
On Wednesday morning, February 23, the State Secretary will be given a tour of the island whereby she will visit several projects and locations, including the new harbor project, the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), the waste management facility, the SEC power plant and the hydroponics farm. Saba is the last island that the State Secretary visits as part of her introductory tour of the six Dutch Caribbean islands.