THE HAGUE--A majority of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday adopted three separate motions to speed up the process to restore democracy in St. Eustatius, to allocate the thirty-million-euro envelope for the Caribbean Netherlands in consultation with the islands and to structurally add US $1.5 million to Saba’s budget.
A large majority supported the St. Eustatius motion submitted by Member of Parliament (MP) Jorien Wuite of Democratic Party D66 and co-signed by MPs Sylvana Simons of the BIJ1 party and Don Ceder of ChristianUnion.
Wuite’s motion called on the Dutch government to speed up the process to restore democracy in St. Eustatius and to inform the Second Chamber about the results of the mediation with a measurable route timetable, including specification of the phases, criteria and means. The motion also requested that government restore the authorities of the Statia Island Council in conformity with phase two after the March 2023 Island Council elections.
Two motions of MP Joba van den Berg of Christian Democratic Party CDA received majority support as well. The first motion called on the Dutch government to secure that the proposals for the allocation of funding from the 30-million-euro envelope for the Caribbean Netherlands would be incorporated in an integral plan under the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK.
Van den Berg’s motion, which was co-signed by MP Attje Kuiken of Labour Party PvdA, also asked government to make sure that the funding from the 30-million-euro envelope would be in addition to existing projects and was supported by Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen did not advise against the motion in question during a so-called two-minute debate last week Tuesday, but she did not consider it a good idea to park the 30 million at the Ministry of BZK.
Van Huffelen advised last week against a second motion of Van den Berg and Kuiken to allocate $1.5 million for Saba to enable the island government to balance its budget. However, a large majority of the Second Chamber expressed support for the motion during the voting on Tuesday.
The public entity Saba has great difficulty balancing its budget because the free allowance from The Hague is too low to cover the operational and structural expenditures. The motion asked the Dutch government to bring the free allowance, starting per the 2022 budget year, up to an appropriate level by structurally adding $1.5 million from the funding allocated for the Caribbean Netherlands envelope, for Saba to have a structurally balanced budget.
Van den Berg immediately responded to the adopting of the motion by asking for a letter from the Dutch government on how it intended to implement the Second Chamber decision, also seeing that Van Huffelen had advised against the motion. According to Van Huffelen, the motion was premature, as consultations on the division of the 30-million-euro envelope were still ongoing.
A second motion of MP Wuite, co-signed by Simons and Ceder, was adopted as well. This motion requested that the Dutch government make interest-free loans available for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to construct social and/or affordable housing.
Another motion that was adopted on Tuesday came from MP Roelien Kamminga of the liberal democratic VVD party. The motion called on the Dutch government to make sure that the funding for improving sustainability in generating electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands would contribute to lower energy prices on the islands and more employment.
A sixth motion adopted by the Second Chamber was submitted by MP Ceder and co-signed by Wuite and Lammert van Raan of the Party for Animals PvdD. This motion asked the Dutch government to consult with the public entities to arrive at a better view and policy on the islands with regard to people suffering from poverty issues, and to look at transferring certain social allowances for this group to the local governments.