Members of the Island and Executive Councils of the WIPM party presented a letter to member of the Permanent Committee on Kingdom Relations during their recent visit to the island. The letter raises concerns over the way various issues affecting the island are being handled in The Hague.
A primary concern was the draft law regarding the provision of electricity on the islands. The letter questions, why even after the promises made by consecutive delegations, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to delay the implementation of any new laws until after the transition, the process to implement this law continues. This leads to the question, “Why is this law not being held back?” The letter goes on to say, “Both levels of local government have been raising red flags about this law. Saba and Statia have just started new companies and neither island is in a position to implement this law.”
Members of the both Councils recommend to the MPs that this law be put on hold until after the evaluation and set the subsidy at the amount first discussed. During the evaluation the entire subsidy structure can be thoroughly discussed.
The right of foreigners who have established themselves on the island to vote in Island Elections is also supported in the letter, because of their valuable contribution to the economy of the island as business owner and tax paying citizens. Taking away their right to vote because of their imperceptible influence on First Chamber selection is unacceptable.
“We have not been properly involved in this process and clarity is needed. Member of Parliament, Mr. Segers, presented a motion in the 2nd Chamber when he first took his seat to allow foreigners to vote in local elections. They have the right now, but will they lose it?” the letter questions.
Another point raised in the letter is the evaluation procedure itself which is slated for 2015. In the letter it is argued that, “The evaluation should be based on reviewing all of the original agreements. It should also be based on the four pillars and the fact that government services should be provided at an acceptable Netherlands level. Throughout the evaluation both partners, the Netherlands and the Islands, must be treated equally. Lastly, the evaluation should be binding, meaning if it is concluded that levels for example need to be increased that these are honored by all ministries and not just a select few.”
The recent decision to raise the minimum wage by only a marginal amount is also tackled. Despite the agreement between the business sector and government that the minimum wage should raised by at least a minimum of 20 per cent the state secretary of social affairs raised the minimum wage by only 6.1 percent. The government laments the fact that even though those that would be most affected by this increase, the business owners, agreed to this decision, the Dutch Government hesitated to do same, citing a lack of statistics as an excuse for inaction in this case.
The letter concludes that the both Councils continue to be committed to the process for the right reasons and hope to give a better understanding of the main concerns.
Press release GIS Saba, January 8, 2014