THE HAGUE--The Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting originally planned for this Friday, January 21, has been postponed by two weeks or more.
No official reason was provided by the Dutch government, but reliable sources indicated that the new Rutte IV cabinet wants a bit more time to prepare itself for the next Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting.
This will also give the new State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen more time to get acquainted with the dossier. The agenda points for the January 21 meeting have not been solidified and the meeting will be delayed until February 4, or possibly later.
A number of important agenda points were to be handled at the initially meeting planned for January 21. These include Aruba’s request for liquidity support for the first quarter of 2022, the approval to deviate from the budget norms for Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and the Dutch conditions that are tied to the liquidity support, including a request by Aruba to gradually terminate the 12.5 per cent pay-cut for (semi) public employees.
No agreement was reached on these points during the December 17, 2021 meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. It was then decided to defer the decision-taking pending the formal approval of the governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten with regard to the amended proposal of the Kingdom Law to establish the Caribbean Entity for Reform and Development COHO.
Without the decision-taking of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten cannot receive the next tranche of liquidity support and they also cannot deviate from the balanced-budget norm stated in the Kingdom Law for Financial Supervision. All three countries have a considerable budget deficit for 2022 due to the pandemic.
Then Dutch Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops stated after this meeting, which was his last Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting before the appointment of a new Dutch government, that the formal approval by the Dutch Caribbean countries was a logical, necessary step in the trajectory.
According to Knops, this was not a new condition. “Since the start of the cooperation, the Dutch government attaches value to a constructive and forthright approach with regard to the legislation trajectory. It is of importance to us all that the agreements of our cooperation are secured and that justice is done to the democratic process,” he stated in a letter to the Dutch Parliament on December 22.
“Since the government confirmation of the Caribbean countries has not taken place up to now, the entire decision-taking of the Kingdom Council of Ministers has been deferred on my request until a later time,” stated Knops then.
“Now that it is unclear why this conformation is not forthcoming and where exactly the countries stand, it is insufficiently clear for the Netherlands what we are up to. The deferral of the decision-taking gives all parties space to ponder the question if and how we can continue the intended collaboration for six years, taking into consideration the agreements that have been made,” stated Knops in the letter.