Politicians in the Hague again expects busy months over the Caribbean islands

THE HAGUE - The summer break in The Hague is over and the islands can once again prepare for politically exciting months. These are six issues that VVD, SP and GroenLinks are concerned about.

Will the Kingdom Council of Ministers intervene in Aruba? And will there be elections on St Eustatius soon? It will be another busy month in The Hague on the islands, the MPs expect.

1. Aruba: will the Kingdom Council of Ministers intervene?

In about two weeks, about 16 Dutch ministers will meet with government representatives from Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. It is possible that a radical decision will be made about independent supervision of the finances of Aruba.

The VVD supports Undersecretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) if he wants to intervene to guarantee supervision. The other coalition parties D66, CDA and ChristenUnie have not or will not comment on this.

2. St. Eustatius: elections or not?

In the coming weeks, Undersecretary Knops will announce if and when the postponed elections will come for St. Eustatius. All island councilors and representatives have been removed from their positions since the intervention of the Dutch government.

The SP wants elections as soon as possible, "so that the population gets a vote," says MP van Raak.

The VVD is waiting for Knops' letter. As far as André Bosman is concerned, elections must be held "carefully and at a good time", so that new political parties "also have the space" to prepare.

Just like the SP, the VVD wants local democracy to be restored "step by step". That could mean that although the Statians will soon be electing their council members, the government commissioner will continue to manage after that.

According to Member of Parliament Nevin Özütok of GroenLinks, it is in any case "important" that the Undersecretary "come up with a plan with the concrete steps" as soon as possible. "Even though he says: no elections yet."

3. Free childcare for all parents?

In the coming months, GroenLinks wants to get clarity about childcare on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. "At the moment it seems to be a basic provision with all kinds of measures, but depending on your income," said Nevin Özütok.

“It must really become a basic facility. So free childcare, just like education which is arranged for large groups. Then parents no longer have to depend on family and the environment. "

4. Social minimum remains the subject of discussion

What is the minimum amount that can be made by someone in the special municipalities? GroenLinks wants a debate about the social minimum and the related benefits.

“The cabinet must become practical. People want to know what their spending space is," says Özütok. “Undersecretary Van Ark (Social Affairs) has sent a letter, but it remains a kind of wish. I want to be reassured, because this cabinet only has a year and a half left."

5. "Corruption must be on the agenda again"

SP Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak wants to put corruption on the islands back on the agenda. "The debate must be conducted."

“The economies on Curaçao and other islands are not doing well and you can see that the drug and gambling industry and also the financial sector are powerful. You can then start investing in the economy, but it is only when a major clean-up occurs that there is confidence in the government, "says Van Raak (SP).

6. "Where are the responsibilities?"

On September 17 it is Prinsjesdag, the day on which the Dutch government presents the billions of dollars. It is also announced how much money is going to the islands next year. A parliamentary debate on Kingdom relations will soon follow.

The VVD wants to use that moment to talk about the responsibilities of the islands and those of The Hague. "It is now often a gray area," says MP André Bosman. "We are going to make very hard choices about responsibility and autonomy."

"These are not questions I am asking for the first time, but the answers I get from the Dutch government vary every time."


"More dullness"

Other issues also play a role, such as the prison on St Maarten, the economy on Curaçao and how the islands are affected by the Venezuela crisis.

"It will be busy months again", SP Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak expects. “But since 2003 I have been involved with Kingdom Relations as a Member of Parliament. I would give the Kingdom more dullness."

By John Samson

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