More and more voices are being heard lately in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, suggesting giving the special overseas public bodies more freedom in spending the extra 10 million euros allocated to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
In their “Spring Agreement” following the fall of the Rutte Cabinet, the parties GroenLinks, ChristenUnie, VVD, D66 and CDA made an additional amount of 10 million euros available for three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. This amount was meant for nature projects (red.: and greenery). Although the Executive Council of Bonaire was very pleased with the allocation of the funds, it simultaneously indicated that spending this on nature alone didn’t reflect current circumstances on the islands or their highest priorities. According to Commissioner Burney El Hage, they have been making it clear for years to the government in The Hague – certainly during the Netherlands Antilles administration – that Bonaire has accumulated enormous arrears in all kinds of areas of development and development opportunities for the people. Almost two years ago the islands became part of The Netherlands. Despite all efforts of their Island Councils, various groups in society and Second Chamber members, there’s still no clear signal regarding the structural suppression of poverty and backlogs in the districts. El Hage said he had indicated repeatedly that the priorities of the citizens and Government of Bonaire very clearly lay in combating poverty, improving districts requiring attention, stimulating a sustainable (green) economy and creating employment. The commissioner views the remarks recently noted from CDA Chamber members Arjan van Erkel and Sybrand van Haersma Buna that the island should be allowed to decide how to spend the 10 million as support and recognition that the “checks and balances” were sufficiently well established to guarantee good and efficient use of the monies.
Van Erkel: “During my visit to Bonaire I saw we’d accomplish the opposite if The Hague stipulated guidelines for these monies. The local administrators are fully aware of the priorities on their island, namely combating poverty, road repairs, other infrastructure works and promoting (eco) tourism. Therefore, CDA suggests the administrators themselves get to work.”
Also D66 Chamber member Wassila Hachchi wants to see – in consultation with Bonaire – how the reserved amount could be used for green jobs. In that case, investing in nature and creating prosperity go hand in hand. “D66 fights hard for structural solutions to poverty,” said Hachchi.
Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-09-13