Seeing the useful work that it has done thus far and the importance of implementing the plans that have been drafted, Dutch caretaker State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen has decided to continue the Task Force Bottlenecks Caribbean Netherlands.
The state secretary confirmed this in a letter that she sent to the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament on Monday. “Based on the reports of the task force and the talks I have had with the public entities, I can conclude that the way of working leads to progress in these complex, often enduring issues.”
The Task Force Bottlenecks Caribbean Netherlands was established in September last year to work on bottlenecks that persist mainly in St. Eustatius and Saba, but also to a certain extent in Bonaire. They are the Citizen Service Number BSN, postal codes, notarial services, banking services, undivided properties, economic diversification, digitalising, work and residency permits and connectivity. The task force has proven to generate an added value on the subjects for which no plan of approach was drafted or for which no ownership was established. In some cases, the task force temporarily took ownership and proposed a solution. This happened in the case of introducing postal codes, improving banking services and solving the matter of undivided properties.
The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, the Dutch Central Bank worked together with the public entities and came to several actions. A new approach was formulated for the problems with banking services in Saba.
The public entity Saba is now able to establish a service providing agreement with one or more banks to secure local banking services of a certain quality. “The talks with the banks thus far have resulted in a number of smaller shared results and I personally commit to bring the negotiations further and to arrive at concrete results,” Van Huffelen stated.
The Ministry of Finance is also assessing whether a service providing agreement between the ministry and a bank is possible in order to improve the quality of the banking services for the long term.
An approach was established with the relevant stakeholders for the issue of undivided properties with which the public entities can get to work. One of the possibilities is through pilots to tackle undivided properties. The bottleneck of appointing a notary for Saba and St. Eustatius was solved. Per July 1, 2023, a permanent notary was appointed. Two other concrete solutions were the decision to introduce the BSN and postal codes.
“This certainly does not mean that all problems have been fully addressed, but we are on the right track That is why I want to make sure that the work of the task force is continued, that the plans that have been drafted are implemented and that we keep making an effort for concrete results that help residents and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean Netherlands,” Van Huffelen stated.
On the issue of connectivity, the state secretary noted that the task force supported the evaluation of the Makana Ferry between St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. “This evaluation has shown that residents are making a lot of use of this ferry service and that there is much support for the continuation.”
Scenarios have been drafted to continue this ferry service which is currently subsidised by the Dutch government. Before the end of this year, there should be clarity on how this important service can be continued, stated Van Huffelen. The possibility of implementing a public service obligation PSO for aviation between the three islands is included in the process.
The Daily Herald.