Monday , May 29 2023

Statia's Island Council objects to financial supervision

The Daily Herald reported that Statia’s Island Council has released the objection letter, signed by Chairman Rueben Merkman and sent to Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk in the Netherlands, dated July 17, in response to his call for the island to be placed under higher financial supervision.

Plasterk is being called on to retract the decision, as stated in his letter which had been sent June 10, and the Island Council said it wants to urgently discuss the matter further. The Island Council said it wanted the opportunity to be heard, under Article 64 of the Caribbean Netherlands administrative law.

The Island Council stated that it aimed to prevent loss of rights in connection to this decision, saying that his reasoning was not properly communicated through the expected communication channels before the decision was taken. The decision was also not carefully prepared, it stated.

It would have been expected that Plasterk would formally keep the Island Council up to date of the decision and reasoning thereof, the members asserted. The same decision might not have been made, they said, had he made the Island Council aware of his intention to take said decision in relation to the budget and financial management so that the Island Council could have given any eventual instructions to the Executive Council, Commissioners and Governor.
The decision strips the Island Council of its entrusted interests and legal duties, especially in laws concerning the budget and its monitoring, and strips the Island Council of legal rights.

Plasterk should make clear what in his opinion should be demanded, in order for Statia’s government to correctly and completely carry out its own tasks without higher supervision by decree, and how the administrative duties of the Executive Council and Governor can be tested, if necessary. It would reflect both
diligence and civility to involve the islands with high consideration as it pertains to the supervision.

The Island Council finds the decision poorly justified, especially seeing that there was no consultation or exchange of information with the Island Council or any of the other governmental entities on the island.

The decision for increased supervision, the letter states, was motivated by just one observation after a conversation with Commissioners Reginald Zaandam and Astrid McKenzie-Tatem and “signs” which remain unclear to the Island Council.

The Island criticised that the reasoning seemed to be motivated by Plasterk’s interpretation of a conversation held between his Secretary General and the commissioners. “We believe that the decision you took was premature and based on insufficient knowledge on the relevant facts and balance of interests.” The letter later
added to this that it therefore could hardly be considered unbiased.

This is all the more true, now that a steering committee has been sent, chaired by a Dutch Government Representative (Gilbert Isabella), seeking out any relevant facts to warrant the decision after the fact, and having “inventorised” conversations with fraction leaders, Governor and civil servants but not first with the Island Council.

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