SABA/THE HAGUE—The delegation of the Saba Island Council during the meetings in the Netherlands was able to point out the matters that are important to Saba, such as increasing the structural funding, establishing a social minimum, a better banking system, investments in education, social development and infrastructure.
Island Council Members Esmeralda Johnson, Carl Buncamper, Vito Charles, Eviton Heyliger and Hemmie van Xanten, and Island Council Registrar Akilah Levenstone visited the Netherlands from June 24 to July 2 during which the delegation attended two trainings and had a number of meetings with various organizations and members of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
It was a successful visit and the general conclusion was that overall, the support for Saba is growing. “It was a packed agenda, but it was definitely worth it. It is all about connecting, networking and keeping up the relations. It is highly important for Saba to keep bringing up our issues and points of concern in the Netherlands,” said Van Xanten.
The direly needed improvements to the banking system on Saba, which is deemed insufficiently accessible and too expensive, was discussed in meetings with the Dutch Central Bank (DNB), the Second Chamber and the Council of State.
High on the agenda of the delegation was Saba’s dire financial situation due to the free allowance (“vrije uitkering”) which is too low to cover the operational, structural costs of the Public Entity Saba. “We explained the stress that is caused by the long delay to structurally increase the free allowance. We pointed out in all meetings that much depends on the long-overdue increase of the free allowance,” said Buncamper. “We want the matter of structural funding arranged, and we no longer accept reasons for delay,” said Van Xanten.
According to Vito Charles, the parties we met with were well informed about Saba’s position on the free allowance and the impact it has on government, its future planning and the salaries of civil servants. “With such broad understanding and support it is important that we see some movement on this point as soon as there is a new cabinet”.
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