Wednesday , March 29 2023

Opinion: Statia’s Lt. Governor announced zero tolerance. Charles Woodley responds.

Dear Editor,

Please allow me a little space in your esteemed newspaper to respond to Governor Berkel’s zero tolerance article of 25th of September, 2013.

Honourable Governor,

I acknowledge your enthusiasm in trying to combat the accelerating increase of vandalism and loitering on our peaceful island. However, I must state the following, imposing a zero tolerance code upon one of the world’s most tolerant nations is, in my personal opinion, very extreme.

In amplification of my opinion, I must point out just a few examples of the great ability to be tolerable of this, our islands nation.

On the 10th of October, 2010, we, the people, tolerated a new constitutional status that was imposed upon us by elected officials of the DP government of that time; promises were made that the standard of living would improve drastically in comparison to the former country Netherlands Antilles.

Here is a simple assessment that both first- and third-class citizens can understand. Since we have become the BES islands, we no longer enjoy the “luxury” of a notary coming to the island, but the Dutch system actually demands that just about every business transaction must be notarised, like it demands that a notary be appointed for these islands. Now, we have to pay the notary US $500 or more, which is fair enough, but add the air fare US $210, departure tax US $15 and hotel and transportation costs that still need to be included, and yet we, the people, just take it, remain tolerant.

The new tax system that went back five years before the BES islands existed has made it almost impossible for local businesses to survive, yet refuses to be transparent about revenues collected on our island. Even some Dutch parliamentarians were demanding clarity on this issue and Trix van Bennekom, a Dutch journalist living in Bonaire, wrote an article that clearly shows that the Dutch government is not being as transparent as they expect us to be, and yet we, the people, remain tolerant.

Since 10-10-10, our people are finding it very difficult to obtain a loan and even refinancing their current loans is almost impossible. The reason for this is that some unsubstantiated decree came from the kingdom government to protect us all from falling into debts; a committee was put in place by Holland, in Holland, to decide if we, the people of Statia, qualify for a loan. When asking what the requirements are to acquire a loan or mortgage, no information is forthcoming. Strangled financially, we still bear it, remain tolerant.

With the departure of the Medical School, there is even less economic activity and people are becoming pessimistic. And idleness is the devils playground. So, before bigging up Zero Tolerance before an audience, the people of Statia, who have been tolerating far more than should be expected from them, it would be nice to ask yourself the question: what if they indeed stop tolerating? Stop tolerating being taxed beyond capacity, stop tolerating being ignored by the local and kingdom government, stop tolerating a dysfunctional government that does not seem to make any headway solving problems like the absence of a notary?

What if, my dear Governor, with all due respect, there is no more tolerance left in us and we, the people of Statia, apply Zero Tolerance policy?

Charles A. Woodley

(Published in The Daily Herald)

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