Oranjestad- The Democratic Party Statia (DP) calls the strong push by the current coalition government towards autonomy for the island ‘irresponsible’. This is stated in a paper presented today by the DP. The DP starts their analysis by noting that that they feel that a failing local government is also to blame for the current state of the island and cannot solely be blamed on the current constitutional status of the island.
The DP also states that, contrary to what is boasted by the current coalition government, a mandate for pursuing autonomy for the island, simply does not exist. “The Democratic Party strongly believes that there is no mandate for a change in constitutional status given by the people in the referendum held in 2014. The outcome was non-conclusive and invalid since the minimum required voter turnout was not met”, according to the paper presented by the DP.
The DP says that the party does not shy away from identifying the shortcomings of the preferred status, namely that of Public Entity. At the same time DP states that they believe that in a responsible dialogue, these shortcomings can be dealt with. The opposition party states that they realize that history has proven that this takes time, but it sees this as ‘unavoidable’.
“Seeing the increasing interest and calls to move forward also in the Dutch parliament, the DP is convinced that now is the time to do just that, instead of changing direction and heading for uncharted and dangerous waters. The DP contests, what can be heard repeatedly, that the circumstances our people are living in are worse than ever and even worse than under the former Netherlands Antilles. This without prejudice that the weaker groups in our society need urgent and immediate attention. We do believe there is room for substantial improvement”, according to the position paper presented today.
According to the DP there are 3 important issues that need to be taken care of to improve the situation of the island. First, the so-called ‘acceptable level of services and the minimum level of existence’ should be defined, according to party.
In the second place, the DP believes that the conclusions and observations in the evaluation report of the committee Spies should serve as guideline to address the shortcomings of the public entity status.
In the third place, according to the red party, the recommendations in the so-called Ideeversa Report should be implemented. Ideeversa, based on an analyses executed, recommended to Holland that the free allowance which for an important part determine the budget of the public entities, be adjusted upward.
According to the position paper, it is important to note that the total tax and premium income for St. Eustatius is less than USD 24 million, while the expenditures are as high as USD 67 million. The DP also states that they seriously doubt that the Dutch government ‘will simply agree’ with the autonomous status as presented by the coalition of PLP and independent councilman Merkman.