Lots of question marks surrounding presence of Dutch Civil servants in Statia

A lot is still unclear about the presence of Dutch Government manager Jenny Thunnissen. On the picture Miss Thunnissen on an archive photo dating back to when she was still working at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. Photo: OV-Magazine

Oranjestad- A lot of rumors and speculation are surrounding the presence of various Dutch government managers, merely days after a high-level visit by Secretary-General Richard van Zwol of the Dutch Ministry for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK).

PLP-leader Clyde van Putten writes in an undated letter to Van Zwol, shared to the media Wednesday morning, February 22, that the so called assistance with ‘capacity building’ for the island as was discussed with Holland, should not be misused to station certain Dutch civil servants on the island without prior consultation with local government.

“During your meetings with the Island Council, its factions, and the Executive Council you pointed out that the Dutch government intends to offer the island government additional personnel support, in order to contribute to the purported “capacity building” of/in the local government”, according to the letter by Van Putten.

Van Putten states in his letter that during the meeting with Van Zwol and his team, all representatives of the island government indicated to be open to receiving said support under certain conditions. “You indicated that you would report your findings back to your minister, including the proposal made by the Executive Council in its letter to him of February 14th, 2017, and that the island government would be informed of the next steps the minister intends to take”, according to the letter by Van Putten.

Van Putten points out that during the meetings, it was made unequivocally clear by all representatives of the local government that the involvement of Miss Jenny Thunnissen is unacceptable. “This was communicated to your minister in writing after the video-conference with the Kingdom Representative on January 7th, 2017. We don’t believe that appointing Miss Thunnissen to any position aimed at supporting the local government can pass the test of good governance and good intentions on your part”, according to Van Putten.

The letter of Van Putten is accompanied by copies of recent mails between employees at BZK and Island Secretary Koert Kerkhoff, requesting meetings by BZK of behalf of Miss Thunnissen with various representatives of local government. In spite of repeated and insistent questions by Kerkhoff to BZK, no (clear) answer is given as to the purpose and the goal of these meetings, fueling suspicion that Holland in this case is not communicating all their real intentions.

Jenny Thunnissen some years back was considered an ‘up and coming’ government manager in the Netherlands. After a number of unfortunate projects at the Dutch Tax departments and the Transport Department, her star faded considerably. The islands have time and again times protested the fact that The Hague seems inclined to parachute public managers, who have run into trouble in the home country, to important positions on the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. A recent example of this was the placement of former Dutch Police Chief at the Korps Caribisch Nederland (KPCN), as well as the intended placement of the ex-chief of the Dutch Tax department, Hans Leijtens, as Quarter Master of the Integrity Chamber on Sint Maarten.

Questions directed this morning by the BES-Reporter to Kingdom Representative Gilbert Isabella about the reason and purpose of Ms. Thunnissens’ presence on St. Eustatius, were not yet answered by the RCN communication department of Isabella’s office late Wednesday night.

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