THE BOTTOM/KRALENDIJK – The Saba Island Council travelled to Bonaire last week for a series of meetings and to attend Bonaire Day.
On Monday, September 4 and Tuesday, September 5, the Island Council met with representatives of the Tax/Customs Office, the Caribbean Netherlands units of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). Also, on the program was a meeting with the Island Councils of Bonaire and St. Eustatius.
At the Tax /Customs Office, Island Council Members Vito Charles, Elsa Peterson, Saskia Matthew and Hemmie van Xanten were able to relay the concerns that Saba residents have with regard to the way that Customs provides customer services where people feel that they are not treated in a proper way. “We feel that as a public servant, one has to deal with people in the best way possible,” said Charles. This situation was recognized by the Tax Office/Customs and will be addressed.
Another issue with regard to Customs is the time that it takes to get refrigerated/frozen cargo out of the harbor when the boat comes in. The time it takes to clear incoming shipments has become longer and without proper cold storage facilities, the cold products rapidly deteriorate, which adversely affects businesses and consumers on Saba. “We made clear that this needs to be addressed in a different way, together with the different stakeholders,” said Charles.
The three Island Councils made use of the opportunity to draft and send a joint letter to the Dutch Second Chamber on Monday about the proposed changes to two important laws that regulate governing in the Caribbean Netherlands, the WolBES and FinBES.
“We feel that as islands, we did not have enough input in the proposed law changes. We would like to see a set procedure how to address the islands’ concerns in these cases,” said Charles. The letter was drafted with unanimous support of all three Island Councils.
On Wednesday, the Saba Island Council and their colleagues of the other two Island Councils attended the Bonaire Day festivities. This year’s theme was ‘Together we form one community.’ Matthew said the visit to Bonaire was highly successful. Charles and Peterson shared that sentiment.