The Daily Herald writes that the Island Council travelled to Bonaire on Monday, September 2, for talks with their counterparts of St. Eustatius and Bonaire. The consultations are to coordinate positions on a number of issues prior to the upcoming October “BES week” in The Hague, where the Caribbean Netherlands island governments are to discuss regional challenges with the national government counterparts.
Prior to their departure, on Wednesday, August 28, the Island Council members visited one of the classes at Saba Comprehensive School and met with the school’s administration to discuss current challenges. Some of these transitional issues were brought up in meetings with counterparts, Central Committee Chairman Rolando Wilson said. He issued a press statement on the visit. He mentioned constructive discussions with Bonaire’s council woman Maritsa Silberie and St. Eustatius councilman Elvin Henriquez.
The agenda points expected to be ironed out in these discussions involve the approaching 2015 evaluation of the constitutional transition with its division of tasks among central and local governments. In particular the islands are to discuss the interpretation of the four pillars on which the new constitutional arrangement rests: the central government role in Social Affairs, Health Care, Education and Safety. On the healthcare package, both the Saba and St. Eustatius Commissioners came to an agreement with the Dutch Health Minister. They are to discuss changes in the election laws, infrastructure projects, housing subsidies and the drafting of a long-term development vision with implementation plans for the next decade.
The transition to individual electricity utility companies is also on the agenda. Price control is to feature as an important issue, as the director general of economic affairs is expected to visit the region soon. One
item of expected contention between the islands’ governments concerns the details of establishing the Joint Audit Chamber for the three islands.
In addition to the coordination talks, the island councils would visit the Scholen Gemeenschap (SGB) on Bonaire and meet with students of the vocational and hospitality stream. Some of the Saba Comprehensive School graduates are attending SGB there. Saba’s island council delegation also wanted to visit primary school De Pelikaan there to compare approaches taken. They would also visit Foundation Mariadal Hospital and other institutions, such as the Caribbean Netherlands Government Service (RCN) headquarters, the Bonaire prison, the drug rehabilitation centre, the youth detention centre, the health care office, the local housing foundation “Fundashon Cas Boneriano and the local Youth and Family Office. During this official visit, the Saba Island Council was also to take part in the Bonaire Day Activities on September 6.