The Hague/Kralendijk- Minister Ronald Plasterk of Interior Relations and Kingdom Affairs (BZK) wants to appoint a so called “Observer” to supervise -and if necessary even directly intervene in- the affairs of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. This is what he has announced today, December 15, in the Second Chamber according to Dutch news site Caribisch Network. According to Plasterk there have been concerns for the longest while about how the island is governed by the local politicians. Plasterk says that for years the island’s budget has not been in order and that agreements between local authorities and Dutch ministries are constantly breached. Therefore, there is an increasing conflict between the island and the minister.
The tensions between the local Progressive Labour Party (PLP)/Merkman coalition and The Hague are nothing new. The Hague however seems to have really lost their patience, after Commisioner of Finance Astrid Tatem was sent home by the governing coalition. With the dismissal of Tatem, The Hague seems more doubtful than ever that the island’s finances will ever get under control. Recently Minister Plasterk had already made it known that the 2017 budget for Statia had been rejected by his Ministry. According to Caribisch Netwerk, the Minister will immediately start to recruit a suitable candidate for the “observer” position. Plasterk says he is looking for someone with extensive managerial experience to be stationed in Statia for one or two years and would go so far as to appoint a person from Holland.
Support in Second Chamber
Plasterk’s measure seems to meet wide support from Dutch members of Parliament. MP Andre Bosman (VDD), stated: “As far as the VVD is concerned, there should be a ‘hard reset’ in Sint. Eustatius”. MP Roelof van Laar (PvdA) is even of the opinion that The Hague should be able to take measures directly targeted at local officials who obstruct the work. It is still unclear how the desired “observer” fits in the current WOLBES legislation. According to Plasterk, it may be necessary to implement new legislation to give the ‘observer’ the necessary powers to act. With the measures by Plasterk, the desire for more autonomy, which has been expressed especially by PLP-leader Clyde van Putten and his political allies, seems further away than ever.