Opinion: What have the islands concretely gained from the ‘school trip’ of BES politicians?

At the risk of being accused of not understanding ‘how things work’ in Politics and in local Government, I dare to wonder aloud what the joint trip of all BES Island Council members to the Netherlands over the past week ,has  yielded in concrete results for the average citizen.

‘What a week!’, a Facebook post by Commissioner Nina den Heyer applauds, containing 20 photos of various activities. Opening of a Slavery exhibition in Groningen, attending the congress of Dutch Municipalities, consultations with Dutch MPs, attending the Keti Koti Slave Abolition festival in Amsterdam, and numerous social activities with Bonaireans living in the Netherlands. Great fun indeed!

Also striking are various photos – not all on Den Heyer’s Facebook Page – about the broadly smiling Executive Council of Bonaire. Huh??! Aren’t they entwined in a big conflict, to the point that external mediation was needed? Something with a controversial Building Permit.

But during the trip to the Netherlands (funded with public funds?) there was no evidence of any tensions, or differences of opinion for that matter. Not even with the island council members of the so-called opposition, such as Clark Abraham or Daisy Coffie. They are equally cheerful in all the pictures with the other elected representatives.

All the joviality and mutual friendliness suggest that – even though at a distance of 8000 kilometres from Bonaire – they must have succeeded in solving many pressing matters, important for the island and its citizens.

I am thinking of an agreement on the sharing with the broad public of the findings of the Integrity investigation into the Roundabout project, an agreement on how to deal with the permit of the Sunset Beach Resort, a way of avoiding the 30% price increase for electricity just announced by WEB and a plan to buy back the former Bolivia Plantation, to save it from ill-considered development.

If I am even a bit more optimistic, I also imagine that agreements have also been made with the Dutch ministers about reducing the prices for inter-island air travel, the introduction of a compulsory supplementary pension, better services by the Health Insurance Office ZVK and an immediate implementation on the Social Minimum, based on independent studies.

“None of that”, I hear some notorious nay-sayers think. But if that isn’t the case, then what was the ‘What a week’ all about??

On behalf of all politicians who went along on this ‘school trip’ for politicians, I would like to call for patience. Although no information has been given prior to this important trip, surely there will soon be a press conference to share with the citizens what the trip was for – and more importantly – what has been achieved for the island?

Surely it cannot be that this club of more than twenty councilmen and -women, Commissioners and high placed Government officials went to the Netherlands ‘just for fun’, without any concrete achievement to show? I -for one- cannot imagine such a thing. Hopefully other residents -but most importantly the same politicians- cannot either. We will soon see!

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