The Daily Herald reporst today that the visit of Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the Dutch Caribbean was to be seen mainly within the framework of a new relationship with the islands. Promoting entrepreneurship was the central theme in Bonaire. “The time when someone from The Netherlands comes to hand out money is over. Of course, there is a financial relation, but the time of expecting someone to come and bring something along has passed. There are so many possibilities here and I’d rather take along people who can help develop the island further.”
Rutte said this at the end of his one-day visit to Bonaire, referring to the weighty delegation of Dutch entrepreneurs accompanying
him. “I’m back in The Netherlands after having visited the Kingdom for a few days,” Rutte joked, with a reference to the overseas special
public body status of the island, compared to the autonomous countries within the Kingdom he had visited earlier, Aruba and Curaçao.
Rutte emphasised that all conversations held were focused on redefining the ties within the Kingdom and The Netherlands. Rutte: “We’ve been discussing the constitutional structure for years and now that the new relations are arranged, there’s a new chance to discuss the opportunities to earn a lot of money together.” “The islands have a perfect location as a gateway, a hub to Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean region. The latter also explains why the trade mission from The Netherlands travelled along.”
The Netherlands has a different financial relation with Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES), than with the other three islands. “As the BES Islands regard exceptional municipalities, the normal contacts are maintained between the ministers concerned and the local governments. Instead of bringing along a bag of money, I was accompanied during this visit by a trade mission that is to inspire the promotion of entrepreneurship,” Rutte said.
The Dutch Prime Minister spoke well of the Executive Council and appeared to get along with Commissioner Burney el Hage (UPB) during their entire day together. He said El Hage was a man with a clear vision on the future economic development of the island.
Rutte: “He also addressed the business community, which was viewed as very inspiring and as an extra support of the necessity and the fruitful soil into which these activities could fall.”
Entrepreneurship was a much-discussed topic in Bonaire. There is still room for young people to realise the possibilities of starting a business, Rutte said. It was agreed with the local business community that the Dutch small and medium business association MKB and
training centre “De Baak” will return to Bonaire in autumn to motivate young people to start a company. According to Rutte, this is very
important for Bonaire because there are still too many restaurants that are managed by people from outside the island. “It would be fantastic if, with my next visit, many of these positions are filled by people from Bonaire,” Rutte said.