Oranjestad- Acting Kingdom Commissioner Mervyn Stegers during his interview on Radio Statia today, hosted by Glenn Schmidt, was mostly careful in the answers he gave, and at times downright evasive.
Stegers said he wanted to avoid giving specific dates on solutions to problems on the island, especially in those cases where he and Kingdom Commissioner Mike Franco were not certain as of yet if they could meet the specific dates. “There are so many things we are working on at the same time”, said Stegers, who added that the last thing he and Franco wanted to do was to make empty promises. Stegers admitted that many things would take (much) longer than initially envisioned. Stegers said he and Franco had drawn up a list of no less than 50 concrete action points of things which will have to improve on St. Eustatius. The list has been divided into 3 sections: urgent action point, medium term action point and long term action points.
Stegers was at times confronted with very critical and sometimes angry callers. Many commented they saw no concrete action taking place, from the time Franco and Stegers took office. “I want to know Mr. Stegers, are you a racist?”, was the question of a caller, who could not explain why he asked that question. The caller also stated that Stegers had no clue about ‘black people’s business’. Stegers did not loose his temper and stayed calm and courteous to the callers.
At times Stegers was however quite vague and evasive in answering critical questions. This was especially true with questions about the so-called ‘advisory board’. “How was this list of people compiled?”, asked a caller. “You, Mike Franco and State Secretary Knops knew nothing about St. Eustatius before you all came in. Who told you who to include on the Advisory Board?”, was the question of the caller. In spite of the insistence, Stegers either could or did not want to give a concrete answer, but instead insisted that the board provided ‘good input’ and that it was a ‘good cross-section’ of society in St. Eustatius.
Stegers was also vague in his answer when Glenn Schmidt asked him about who exactly the current advisors were of the Kingdom Commissioners, apart from the people on the Advisory Board. “We have many, many different advisors”, said Stegers, who reluctantly admitted that the controversial Jenny Thunissen was also still one of them. “But there are many others”, insisted Stegers, who mentioned local department heads, “financial people”, “some advisors coming in from abroad” and “coaches” for local department heads. Stegers said Thunissen had mostly advised him and Franco on procedures in place on the island, during the take-over.
Stegers concluded the interview by expressing understanding for the fact that people on the island were impatient and wanted tangible results. “I hope to be back here in a year or so and hear callers give positive feedback on things which have been achieved in the meantime.”, said Stegers.
Stegers, throughout the interview, admitted that the interim government had not done a very good job in keeping the population informed. “The problem is we are doing too many things at the same time, but I admit we are not always doing a good job giving information about what we do.”, admitted Stegers. Stegers promised that he and Mike Franco would work on improving the provision of information on the projects and issues they were dealing with on the island.