Intentions confirmed for BZK Ministry to assume larger role
THE HAGUE - The Dutch government confirmed on Tuesday its intentions to give content to the paragraph in the governing accord which says the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK will get a bigger role in the area of Kingdom relations, in particular with the Caribbean Netherlands.
State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed the Dutch Parliament last week that he had sent the formal request to the Council of State for an advice regarding the format of the relations between the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands and the coordinating role of the BZK Ministry.
It was stated in the 2019 budget documents, under the heading Kingdom Relations, that the advice of the Council of State is expected this year, after which the Dutch government will formulate a standpoint on this matter. The First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament had asked to be informed of this advice.
An extensive intra-departmental policy assessment of the effectiveness of the expenditures for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba was announced in the 2019 Kingdom Relations budget. “Coordinated handling by the Dutch government and a well-functioning local government are essential for the socio-economic development of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.”
The Dutch government’s intervention in St. Eustatius in February 2018 to take over the local government responsibilities due to the “severe neglect of tasks” was mentioned in the 2019 Kingdom Relations budget.
The Netherlands has been carrying the responsibility of St. Eustatius through National Government Commissioner Mike Franco and his deputy Mervyn Stegers. “The Commissioner and the Dutch government are striving to tackle the most urgent problems on the island in 2019. The governmental intervention has to be as short as is possible, but as long as is needed.”
Reference was made to the reconstruction of the three Windward Islands for which the Dutch government has reserved more than 600 million euros: 550 million for St. Maarten and 67 million euros for St. Eustatius and Saba.
“2019 is also the year of the further reconstruction of St. Maarten. The first contribution from the Recovery Trust Fund has been made available with which St. Maarten can carry out projects with support of the World Bank.”
Some of the projects include the recovery of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), the construction of a new St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and the repairs to homes, all of which are being done in a sustainable manner. “This will better prepare St. Maarten for future hurricanes.”
Funds have been made available for the recovery of St. Eustatius and Saba after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. “The islands are still working on a daily basis to repair homes, buildings and roads. Saba’s harbour will be reinforced together with a contribution of the Regional Envelope.”