The Daily Herald writes that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte came to the defence of Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on Friday stating that the minister did not hide a report on the coordination of the tasks of the Dutch Government on or on behalf of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. “Fact is that the minister took immediate action when hearing of the problems in the coordination of tasks,” said Rutte during his weekly press conference following the Council of Ministers meeting when asked about the critical report of the Inspection, Signalling and Coaching ISB of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the way that The Hague deals with the three public entities. ( Ed. : You can download this confidential report through the link at the end of this post.)
Clearly reading from a prepared statement the Prime Minister said that Plasterk had a meeting with National Government Representative for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Wilbert Stolte after which the latter decided to resign per May 1, 2014. Rutte explained that the evaluation of the national government tasks pertaining to the Caribbean Netherlands consisted of two steps: the ISB audit, which submitted a report in November last year, and the Committee Small Evaluation Caribbean Netherlands of which Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson is a member.
After the committee has submitted its report sometime next month, the cabinet will send the reports along with a response of government to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in April. Rutte said that this was clearly communicated to the Second Chamber in various letters. In other words, said Rutte, Plasterk has done nothing wrong; Dutch Parliament knew that it would only get the complete information package on the evaluation of the coordination of the tasks of the Dutch Government in April.
The Prime Minister said he had “much confidence in this minister” and added that he was “glad” that Plasterk could continue his work. Plasterk survived a motion of no confidence in the Second Chamber on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday in connection with the gathering of 1.8 million meta-data of telephone traffic by the Dutch security agencies.
Opposition parties Democratic Party D66 and the Socialist Party (SP) demand clarity from Plasterk about the ISB report, and have accused the minister of not doing anything with the ISB report, its critical findings and the recommendations, among others, to appoint a new National Government Representative on short term. Plasterk brushed off the criticism of the opposition parties and said on Friday morning that he had handled, in accordance with agreements with the Second Chamber, to send the complete package of documentation on the evaluation in April. “This was clearly agreed with the Second Chamber. I had an agreement, also with the islands, to send the report to Parliament together with the report of the Committee Small Evaluation Caribbean Netherlands and I will stick to that agreement,” he told reporters. The minister did not seem too bothered by the fact that the opposition parties were again upset with him, for a second time in a week. He cited the Dutch saying: “Pick a rose, put it on your hat and you will be fine again tomorrow.”
Referring to his meeting with Stolte about the latter’s functioning and the crisis in Bonaire’s government, Plasterk: “As a result, he decided to leave three years earlier; then came the report which confirmed that I rightfully had invited him for a meeting.” The ISB report was critical of Stolte’s functioning. The National Government Representative gave insufficient content to his coordinating role, has a problematic relationship with the island governments and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, and lacked the respect and confidence of the stakeholders.
The report further mentioned the lack of a central vision of the Dutch Government pertaining the public entities, absence of unity of the coordination of tasks carried out by the various Dutch ministries, lack of confidence and defective/non-existent cooperation between Dutch civil servants working on or on behalf of the islands, and a deficiency in management/ control and prioritising at a central level. The Dutch media jumped on the issue after the leaking of the ISB report and the subsequent criticism of D66 and the SP, accusing the minister of hiding information from Dutch Parliament.
Late last weekP Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak posed written questions late last week while Wassila Hachchi of D66 was successful in her efforts on Wednesday to secure a future debate in the Second Chamber on the ISB report and the position of the National Government Representative.
You can download the full report here. (In Dutch)