Further integration of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba into the Dutch Constellation is not an option for the liberal democratic VVD party, said Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman (VVD) on Thursday.
“I want to tell the people of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba that the current public entity status is as far as the VVD wishes to go. Further integration in the Dutch Constellation is not a passable road for the VVD. We have to be honest about that,” said Bosman during a debate with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk about the Caribbean Netherlands.
According to Bosman, a “further distance” is “certainly an option.” He mentioned the option of a Kingdom Island as described by the 2004 Jessurun Committee. He called it “a tailor-made status per island.”
Bosman said it was a task of the Netherlands to enable the people of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to be “as independent as possible” and to allow them to choose their “own path for the future.” “The islands don’t want The Hague to dictate them the Dutch laws.”
The Member of Parliament (MP) said The Hague saw the Caribbean Netherlands as a unity, “while they are not.” He wondered whether it was possible to cater to the individual needs of the islands and to create legislation per island instead of dictating everything from the Netherlands.
“Why a Dutch construction decision? Why Dutch requirements for water and electricity? The VVD is more inclined to having the islands make their own choices. No herds of Dutch civil servants to the islands to have them function as municipalities. No questionable policy about what needs to be according to the Dutch standard and what needs to fit within the region. We shouldn’t act as if Saba has a harbour the size of Rotterdam,” said Bosman.
“The discussion about double taxation in the Windward Islands can go straight into the waste bin, because maybe St. Eustatius and Saba will opt not to levy tax on incoming goods. Instead of governing the islands from The Hague, we should ask the people of the islands what they want,” he said.
The idea of the VVD is not to abandon the islands, said Bosman. “We should offer support wherever necessary. Assistance in the areas of health care, justice and financial solidity to name a few.”
The Netherlands will have to lend a helping hand when large investments are needed such as the providing of steady, sustainable energy. “We can create a win-win situation when we can link innovation to sustainable energy,” Bosman said.
MP Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA said that The Hague “often ignored” the priorities set by the islands. He made a case to allow the local governments to have a greater say on how they wish to utilise Dutch Government funds.
Minister Plasterk didn’t venture on giving his view on the statements by Bosman and Van Laar. However, he did say that the implementation of the recommendations of the constitutional evaluation would be a lengthy process. “We will be discussing this issue for many more years. The realisations of improvements will be a progressive process for many years,” he said.
Regarding the issues of double taxation in the Windward Islands, the levying of turnover tax in St. Maarten on goods entering St. Eustatius and Saba on top of the local sales tax, Plasterk said that information would soon be distributed to the private sector on how to avoid double taxation.
The Daily Herald.