Secretaries General conclude successful visit to Statia Saba

Secretary General for the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Affairs, Richard van Zwol and Secretary General for the Ministry of Finance, Manon Leijten have concluded successful talks with the Public Entities of St. Eustatius and Saba as well as private sector representatives on both islands. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week meetings were held in order for the Ministries to gain more insight into the developments on the islands and also to allow the representatives to highlight what are the most important issues, priorities and concerns.

Central to the discussions were among others the topics of the big evaluation, the Multi Year Development Plan and the evaluation of the free allowance. Draft Multi-Annual Plans have been drafted for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The Public Entities have been urged to study the proposed plans and where necessary include any subject matter relevant to the further development of the island. It is agreed by all parties that a more integrated approach is necessary. These Multi Year Development Plans are scheduled to be completed by June 2015.

One recurring topic addressed on both islands by the public as well as the private sector is the tax system and the economy. It was proposed that this matter be will be included in the big evaluation of the Public Entities scheduled to take place in 2015. Going forward the objective is for the Public Entities, the Ministries and Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) to improve the coordination of the activities of the Central Government on the islands. Kingdom Representative Gilbert Isabella will play a pivotal role in the coordination.

“For me this is the first visit to the islands and I am really impressed with the friendliness and beauty of the islands, but also how different they are and how hard people work under sometimes stressful situations. My understanding and respect for the islands has grown”, Secretary Manon Leijten said. Secretary General Richard van Zwol added: “Although I have been on Statia and Saba on various occasions, every time I visit I learn new things about the friendly people that I encounter. I hope to encourage good governance in the interest of the economy of the islands”.

The delegation traveled to Bonaire on Wednesday where similar discussions will be held with the Public Entity and representatives of the private sector there.