By Rene Zwart
The Hague- The takeover by The Hague of the Government on St. Eustatius so far has brought little visible improvements for the population as a result of rules from The Hague. In a debate today with State Secretary Raymond Knops about the Dutch intervention on the island, members of the Dutch Parliamentary Committee for Kingdom Relations expressed their disappointment about the results achieved in the past 8 months.
That the 3,000 inhabitants so far have experienced little tangible change for the better, according to the committee members, is for a great part due to all the rules from The Hague. MP for the VVD, André Bosman, noted that many projects come to a halt. Ronald van Raak (SP) concluded that driving a small island from ten office towers in The Hague does not work. Joba van den Berg (CDA) raised the question of whether the other departments cooperated sufficiently. Nevin Özütok (GroenLinks) pleaded for the replacement of bureaucratic thinking by th pragmatism.
Knops also said he felt the impatience of the MPs themselves and regularly pressed his officials with the question ‘whether it can be done faster’. He said he regularly fought what he called the ‘stubborn tendency of ministries’ to think from the Dutch context to urge them to be guided less by European Dutch rules as this is, in the case of St. Eustatius, not mandatory by law. Knops said however that he tried to used ‘persuasiveness’ to get things done, but he had no absolute power to push things through. At the same time, he promised that, after a period of ‘planning’, projects would really start to move forward within short, such as the the reconstruction of roads.
With regard to whether or not the Island Council elections were to take place in March, Bosman and Van Raak made the suggestion as a ‘transitional form’ to have a island council elected, but to leave the day-to-day government still in the hands of Government Commissioner Mike Franco. The minister did not want to go into the electoral issue in anticipation of his next progress report that will go to the Chamber in mid-November. Whatever happens with local elections, in any case the Statians in March would be able to vote for the Senate, Knops assured.
The debate was followed from the public tribune by Koos Sneek who was a member of the Statian island council, dissolved on 7 February.