The Daily Herald reports today on the visit of the Evaluation Committee to Saba. The Committee is to prepare the evaluation of the current status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as public entities of the Netherlands. The Committee, headed by Liesbeth Spies, arrived in Saba on Sunday. Their first act of business was a meeting with the Island
Council and other island representatives on Monday morning.
Later during the day, a video was shot explaining how the committee would work to create an unbiased report to present to the Dutch government on October 10, 2015. This video will be made public by email to all known addresses of Saba residents. “People will be made aware of our progress using multimedia. A Facebook page and a website will be launched as well,” said Spies in an interview with The Daily Herald.
Monday, at 5:30pm the Committee hosted a meet-and-greet at Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside. A good number of people attended the event, marked by a calm atmosphere and occasional critical remarks. After the Committee members had introduced themselves to the public, Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Chris Johnson addressed some of the issues Saba is struggling with.
Johnson spoke of the hypocrisy which is sometimes evident in Dutch law making. He spoke of double standards, for instance concerning the levels of pensions and welfare for the islands, which are way below the poverty line, while in The Netherlands they are not. “If we just use common sense we can overcome these issues,” Johnson said.
The public was then given the opportunity to speak their mind. The Committee would not answer the questions on the spot but rather take them into consideration.
One of the biggest problems, according to attendants, is the high cost of living on Saba. Spies was impressed by the level of questioning and found the evening to be much more relevant than “all these cold figures” she had been studying until now. Spies also gave her opinion about the double tax rate when importing goods from St. Maarten, which she said was “absurd.”
On Tuesday, the Committee met with representatives from the social workplace at the Organoponics Farm. Thereafter, they headed for Statia by airplane.
Spies wanted to emphasize the neutrality of the Evaluation Committee. “We have already collected lots of information but we are not there yet. This is, however, a good start,” she explained.