WILLEMSTAD — The dismantlement process of the Netherlands Antilles could be used as an example for other countries in the world. It could also be concluded that, in the Antilles more consideration was given on the various aspects of a dismantlement process, such as division of the estate and safeguarding of the adequate implementation of tasks, compared with similar processes, which had taken place in Eastern Europe.
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Paul Williams, experiential export in the field of peace negotiations and consultant with regard to dismantlement processes stated the aforementioned. Last Saturday evening, he was the keynote speaker during an international seminar with the theme ‘The constitutional reform of the Netherlands Antilles: meeting the challenges’, which was organized by the government accountant Soab in the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino on the occasion of its fifteenth anniversary. From a certain viewpoint, the Antilles have already become an example for other countries, said Williams. While the European Union wanted to employ strict regulations for holding referenda, East-European countries referred to the Antilles where only a majority of the people’s consultation was sufficient.
"A great difference is that the process in the Antilles passed off peacefully, while there’s a warlike sentiment in most territories", said Williams.
The accountant’s function already exists since 1949 in the Antilles and the Soab was a merger of the Land accountant’s service and the Island territory Accountants bureau of Curaçao, which was realized on October 3rd, 1994. Since then, the Soab fills the position of internal auditor of the government of the Netherlands Antilles and the Board of Governors of the island territories Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba, and Bonaire.
In his introduction, Soab-director Geomaly Martes said that the institute meanwhile does much more apart from accountant activities. Within the constitutional changing process, the institute is responsible for the distribution of the estate of the Land the Netherlands Antilles and Soab assists with the setting up of the future Land Curaçao as well as with the dismantlement of the Netherlands Antilles.
Nevertheless, more ‘local’ pressure points came up for discussion during the panel discussion, following the speeches of Williams, Martes, and the Premier Emily de Jongh-Elhage. Deputies Zita Jesus-Leito (Constitutional Affairs, PAR) and William Marlin (Constitutional Affairs, National Alliance), together with the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Soab, Freddy Curiel, and Williams formed the panel. The legal position of officials and financial aspects related to the setting up of the new Lands Curaçao and St. Maarten was commented on. Curiel warned that the debt-reconstruction by the Netherlands does not imply that the countries would become rich immediately. According to him, St. Maarten will not be capable of paying for all tasks, which it has to implement as a land.
Marlin disputes this by stating that the island does generate sufficient means for this, but that the problem would be the setting up of the many ministries and departments as the central government is physically only present on Curaçao. While St. Maarten cannot dispose of the means on the budget of the central government because the tasks have not been decentralized yet, the Netherlands does expect that St. Maarten will function as an able-bodied land on October 10th, 2010. "In addition, the Netherlands are not assisting us with this process", says Marlin.
According to Jesus-Leito, Curaçao and St. Maarten are coping with the same problem and it is not that Curaçao could become a land from one day to the next. She offered St. Maarten assistance against payment, with all tasks that it could not implement as a self-governing land.
In her opening speech, De Jongh-Elhage emphasized the importance of a good functioning apparatus of government, which should safeguard a good service provision towards the population. She welcomed the establishment of an educational institute for officials.
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