Island Council training on Bonaire was very valuable

The three-day training on Bonaire on April 11, 12 and 13 provided valuable insights for the new Island Council.
“The training brought more insight into the role and responsibilities that you have as an Island Council
member,” said Elsa Peterson of the Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM). “For me, it was a bit
more empowering, coming from government’s executive branch. As an Island Council member, it is
important to realize that you are in fact the highest legislative body of government, and the
responsibility and authority that comes with that,” she said.
Vito Charles (WIPM) reiterated it was good that the training was held very soon after the installation of
the new Island Council. “It shows that we are proactive. The training gave focus and clarity on what is
important for the Island Council. It is always good to reinforce what you heard during earlier trainings
and to discuss it with your colleagues, especially the more recent members who have come on board so
we can continue to develop knowledge and find ways to do new things,” said Charles.
Greater understanding
Saskia Matthew of the Party for Progress, Equality and Prosperity (PEP) said she was glad to have done
this training at this specific point in time. “It’s been three weeks since we were sworn in and it was
important for us to start with the basics. This training has given me a greater understanding of how
much knowledge is lacking on Saba and within our governing system. As such, we have made a collective
decision to have a fully functioning Island Council before the end of this term because we all deem it
necessary. It’s important that we are fully equipped to uphold the office of the Island Council and
represent the island to the best of our abilities,” she said. 
“As I mentioned before we left, our last training was 3.5 years too late. So, I made it my point that as
soon as the new Island Council was sworn in, an introduction training should take place. Especially for
the newly-elected members it is important to understand the structure of the organization and what
your role is within. The fact that the training was held off-island allowed the different members to get to
know each other in a different setting,” said Hemmie van Xanten (PEP).
Day 1 of the introductory training on Bonaire focused on responsibilities, instruments and expectations
of the Island Council and its members, the interaction between the parties in the Island Council, the
interaction with the Executive Council, the Dutch Government and citizens. The Island Council has seven
tools in total to do its work of which the right to ask questions, the right to make amendments and the
right to submit motions are among the most important.

Day 2 focused on the Rules of Order as well as the proposed changes to the WolBES, the general law
that regulates the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, and the FinBES, the general law that
regulates the finances of the three islands.
Rules of Order
“We also discussed the new Rules of Order for the Island Council,” said Peterson. Charles pointed out
that the last time the Rules of Order were updated was in 2011. The discussion to update the Rules of
Order started in 2019 at an earlier training for the Island Council and again during a subsequent training
in 2022. According to Charles, the update is needed. “Certain processes have changed or have been
updated and are no longer in line with other municipalities in The Netherlands.,” he said. “The new
Rules of order will give the Island Council tools to operate more effectively,” added Peterson.
“It is good to know that the Rules of Order and Code of Conduct should be updated every four years.
Just learning this makes me feel more confident in saying that policies and processes are something that
we really need to investigate. We have been really falling behind and it’s about time that we catch up,”
said Matthew. 
While on Bonaire, the Island Council members met with Island Governor Edison Rijna, who shortly after
took up his new job as Caribbean Netherlands Special Envoy for EU funds, United Nations (UN) funds
and economic relations with Latin America. Rijna explained his new role and how this could bring
benefits for Saba and the other islands.
The Island Council delegation also had a meeting with management of Care and Youth Caribbean
Netherlands (ZJCN) to discuss general developments and pressing issues. “This meeting was mainly a
result from the previous meeting we had in December with State Secretary of Public Health Maarten van
Ooijen. The Island Council was introduced to all ZJCN staff members and got an insight of the daily
operation,” said Van Xanten.
“Meeting with ZJCN was very important to us, because the community has expressed a lot of concern in
this area. Having those vital conversations gave me a different perspective of how the processes work.
We met everyone working in the department and now have direct contact with persons responsible for
all departments. They also asked us to help them help the Saba community and we intend to do just
that,” said Matthew. The Island Council returned to Saba on Friday, April 14.