Dear Residents of St. Eustatius,
For me it is important to update the community of St. Eustatius on developments regarding the Plan of Action, Multi-Annual Plan and procedures for appointing a new Island Governor.
As mentioned at the end of 2015 the Plan of Action provides a number of concrete suggestions and proposed action points, which should lead to the improvement of administrative and decision-making processes on St. Eustatius. For the past several months I have worked together with the Executive Council to start implementing this plan.
The Plan of Action briefly outlines how ‘good governance’ can be achieved and supported. The mentioned action points are based on and are linked mainly to previously identified bottlenecks that were also raised through administrative signals, signals with the civil service and also signals from people of the island.
From January 15th, 2016 until December 31st, 2016, the Minister of the Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations has imposed preliminary supervision. This means that no financial obligations may be entered into at the expense of the 2016 budget of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius unless the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has approved this. Furthermore, the ban on commitments has been lifted giving the Executive Council more freedom and flexibility to operate.
With the implementation of preliminary supervision the Minister wants to ensure the Executive Council operates within the financial frameworks submitted by the Executive Council and approved by the Island Council and that proper procedures are applied.
Together, we have started with the 10 main priorities that must be tackled. The most important was the filling of important vacancies within the civil service. This is important because, this way, the advisory support to the Executive Council is once again restored.
There are now 2 process managers appointed: Mrs. Patricia Hassell who works on behalf of the Kingdom Representative and Mr. Laurens Duiveman on behalf of the Executive Council. Together, they will ensure that all points of the Plan of Action are prepared for the meeting of the Kingdom Representative and the Executive Council after which the Executive Council will make the necessary decisions.
Other key positions that are to be temporarily filled, with support from the Ministry of the Interior affairs and Kingdom Relations, are Census Office and financial management support. Within short, a new temporary Island Secretary will be appointed. At the same time, the regular process will be started within the framework of the vacant positions, which must be permanently filled.
Meanwhile, the first arrangements were also adjusted: auditing, mandating, control protocol and the regulation for budgetary control. These are important documents for the civil service organization to be able to carry out its work independently and efficiently.
During various visits to St. Eustatius and via a weekly video conference I have held meetings with the Executive Council to discuss the purpose of the plan and how to work out the Plan of Action focusing on the interest of the island and the people of St. Eustatius.
The Plan of Action is a public document, also available in English under publications on the RCN website. Therefore you can read for yourself which are the action points mentioned. Going forward the Executive Council and the Kingdom Representative will communicate jointly on the progress of the Plan of Action.
The Multi-Annual Plan
On the advice of the Kingdom Representative on February 1st the Multi-Annual Plan was signed by Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Mr. Plasterk and Commissioner Mr. Zaandam at the Public Library on St. Eustatius.
The different ministries have recently, partly as a result of discussions between the Kingdom Representative and Ministers, made available in their budget resources to address specific bottlenecks on the Island. In collaboration with the Executive Council this has resulted in good agreements being laid down in the Multi-Annual Programme for St. Eustatius.
For you as residents of St. Eustatius, this plan contains important projects, which we are now going to work out together with the Executive Council. For example: The Hague has made 6 million dollars available for the road from the harbour to Upper Town. This is a solid investment that will hopefully also stimulate entrepreneurs and the business sector towards economic growth.
The Central Government, together with the local administration, will continue with plans to achieve a common administration building for the RCN and the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. This will greatly improve the working environment for many civil servants and the service to you as inhabitants. There are also extra investments in school swimming for your children, extra activities at Mega D Youth Foundation and the expansion of social services
The Multi-Annual Plan is also a public document, which can be downloaded from the websites of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius or RCN.
A new Island Governor
As of April 1st, 2016, the first term of Gerald Berkel as Island Governor of St. Eustatius comes to an end. Mr. Berkel will not fulfill a second term as Island Governor whereby a vacancy exists for the function. The WOLBES, (the laws governing Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) outlines legal requirements on how and according to what procedure the Kingdom Representative should provide succession.
The Central Government is very grateful to Island Governor Berkel for his efforts during the past six years in which he, as Island Governor of St. Eustatius, has lead various Executive Councils of different political compositions. Also, for the way he has always put the interests of the inhabitants of the island first as a guideline for the local government.
In my experience, given the new constitutional changes since 10-10-10, Mr. Berkel has made a valuable contribution to the further developments on St. Eustatius, often under difficult administrative circumstances. His effort, with the Plan of Action to get the administrative organization on the island in order, deserves my utmost respect.
I wish Mr. Berkel and his family the very best. With regards to how his farewell as Island Governor will take place.
The process for finding a suitable candidate for Island Governor of St. Eustatius is ongoing. In the meantime work must continue. Based on article 90 of the WOLBES Mr. Julian Woodley has been appointed acting Island Governor of St. Eustatius. The new acting Island Governor will assume all tasks and responsibilities as Island Governor as of April 1st, 2016. Mr. Woodley was until April 1st acting Kingdom Representative.
We all agree that St. Eustatius is undergoing an important period in its development. I have therefore requested Mr. Woodley to especially focus his attention on continuity of the administrative decision-making processes and the progress of the implementation of the Plan of Action and the Multi-Annual Programme where is mentioned a lot of substantive projects in the interest of the inhabitants. I am counting on a good cooperation among all stakeholders in the interest of St. Eustatius. Mr. Julian Woodley has a long administrative and political career behind him and brings a lot of experience to the table.
All in all, there is much work to be done in the coming months and years to help strengthen the financial and administrative capacity of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. This goal can be successfully achieved when all parties are working united. As mentioned earlier, priorities have been set in consultation with the Executive Council, important vacancies are being filled temporarily, vacancies of a more permanent nature are top priority, and two process managers are already working on implementing the Plan of Action.
There is a role and responsibility for each person and organization on St. Eustatius. Let us grant each other the support, space and time required to get things working optimally. Together, let us give St. Eustatius the push it deserves in the interest of all the people.