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Better Communication and Citizen Participation needed on St. Eustatius

Raymond Willem Knops , sinds 26 oktober 2017 staatssecretaris van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties.
Better Communication and Citizen Participation needed on St. Eustatius

ORANJESTAD- The citizens of St. Eustatius must be more involved in the developments on the island.

According to the most recent implementation report by State Secretary Knops (BZK), the need for better communication about what is described as ‘progress and the results achieved’ is also discussed. In the meantime, the Public Entity St. Eustatius (OLE) is said to have drawn up a new communication plan for this.

“Part of the plan is to make more and more proactive use of existing and new means of communication. The focus is on more visualisations, a clear website and the use of focus groups from the population. In addition, OLE officials receive communication training to inform the population about steps taken within current projects. In this way, the population is well informed about the developments on the island,” says Knops.

Citizen participation

According to the State Secretary, efforts are also being made to involve the population in developments on the island. “The OLE gives substance to citizen participation by organizing regular town hall meetings. Consultation rounds are also held when drawing up policies or regulations, and the government commissioner and the deputy government commissioner have opened weekly consultation hours from 1 September. During this consultation hour, Statian citizens can talk to the board about topics that they consider important,” Knops wrote to the House of Representatives.

Substandard

More and better communication with citizens is certainly not a superfluous luxury on the island, which scores relatively poorly compared to Bonaire and Saba, when it comes to communication. Another point of concern is that the communications of the Dutch-appointed Government Commissioners oftentimes are more resemblant of propaganda or a PR-campaign to highlight the ‘blessings’ of the Dutch intervention, rather than the provision of neutral and objective information to residents.

The previously established ‘Social Advisory Board’, which was meant to serve as a sounding board in the absence of an island council, seems to have quietly died. 

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