Cancellation of the Kingdom Conference scheduled for March 25-26 (see Friday/Saturday edition) did not come as a complete surprise. According to Dutch Caretaker State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Alaxandra van Huffelen, Aruba did not sign the related protocol and – as a result – neither has St. Maarten.
No mention was made of why, but The Hague and Oranjestad are still deadlocked on a Kingdom Law replacing Aruba’s current National Ordinance Financial Supervision. Dutch Members of Parliament (MPs) had expressed regret over Aruba consequently having to pay a higher interest on the COVID-19 crisis loans provided by the Netherlands than Curaçao and St. Maarten, costing it 30 million euros more yearly, but the state secretary is sticking to her guns.
Truth be told, continued political uncertainty in The Hague too makes a Kingdom Conference less desirable at this time. The outgoing centrist VVD-led government lost big at the November polls and efforts to form a new PVV-led right-of-centre majority coalition have run into trouble, while a left-of-centre or any other version appears unlikely at this time and the Netherlands may well be headed for early elections again.
The semi-annual Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO planned for February 20-23 in Aruba was also cancelled (see Thursday newspaper) after being postponed earlier due to St. Maarten’s January election. This was decided during last week’s presidium meeting, confirmed chairman of Curaçao’s Committee for Inter-Parliamentary Ties and Foreign Relations Ferginio Brownbill (MFK), who only just took over that role following the passing of faction-colleague Amerigo Thode.
In addition, the Dutch First Chamber’s Committee for Kingdom Relations inaugurated in June is currently on a 10-day introductory visit to the Caribbean islands. They will now meet with parliamentary delegations from Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten that had already planned a tripartite gathering February 17-18 to prepare for the IPKO.
The same will be done during a similar visit by the Second Chamber’s recently installed committee in May. Moreover, the three Dutch Caribbean legislatures are still meeting with that of former kingdom partner Suriname in Aruba on February 19.
The Parliament of St. Maarten that took office on Saturday will thus have plenty to do regarding inter-parliamentary relations in the days and weeks ahead. However, with the incoming URSM/DP/PFP/NOW government as yet in the initial stage of being formed, a Kingdom Conference next month would perhaps have arrived too soon, so it’s probably for the best.
Besides, there are enough urgent ongoing issues right here at home to tackle, including passing the already-late 2024 budget.