Working visit of the Dutch First Chamber of Parliament Committee Kingdom Relations | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – A delegation of members of the Dutch First Chamber, Committee for Kingdom Relations (KOREL), are currently on a working visit to the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) paid a courtesy call to the Council of Ministers on Tuesday morning, February 13, 2024, before holding a separate meeting with the Governor and members of the House of Parliament.

The meeting was attended by the Prime Minister/Minister of General Affairs, Silveria Jacobs, Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion and Minister of Justice Anna Richardson, and was hosted at the Council of Ministers meeting room at the Government Administration Building.

Upon welcoming the visiting delegation and a brief introduction of each member, the Prime Minister spoke about the current situation on Sint Maarten since the passing of hurricane Irma in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 along with other challenges faced by the country, and the financial support from the Netherlands.

The Minister of Finance highlighted the actions taken by the Sint Maarten Government to distribute the much-needed funds received from the Netherlands throughout the community, including businesses, the self-employed and minimum wage earners.

His advice to the visiting delegation is to trust that those on the ground know what is best for the island and what is needed on the island. This should form the basis in decision making of providing much needed (financial) assistance and the timing of, in this case, the reopening of the borders to jump start the economy during the COVID-19 period.

While the political dynamics of Sint Maarten may not significantly influence the Netherlands, decisions taken by the Dutch Government can profoundly affect Sint Maarten; this highlights that the local context and needs cannot and should not be overlooked.

Upon the query of one of the members of the delegation, the Minister of Justice reflected on her four-years in Government where she started out with a demoralized, understaffed, and overworked Justice Department, and ending her term with having delivered on the new salary scales and function books for the Justice ministry and also completed a new Human Resource (HR) structure for staff. Progress has been made towards the enhancement of the morale of the staff; more projects are in the pipeline for the furtherance thereof across the board.

Minister Richardson recognized the support of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) toward the rebuilding of the Prison and ends her term on a good note having spoken with the Attorney General on the use of available resources to deal with a rising rate of crime on Sint Maarten. Overall, it can be stated that a lot has been achieved within the Ministry of Justice over the past four years.

In a fruitful and open discussion, views were exchanged about the accomplishments of the various government ministries in the past four years and the relationship with the Netherlands that has been viewed and experienced from a rather “restrictive” to an “improved” one especially during the last two years due to the heightened level of awareness about Sint Maarten at different levels in the Netherlands.

Remaining grateful for the received Dutch liquidity support while recognizing the need for reform, it is the Prime Minister’s hope that discussions will continue in that vein while Sint Maarten continues to recover and build its resilience. Furthermore, Sint Maarten has been grateful the legislation related to the reform was rejected as it didn’t properly account for the position of the islands of Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten.

The delegation members present were encouraged by the Prime Minister to continue to foster positive dialogue aimed at bringing more awareness to the Netherlands about the realities of the small island developing states which the island nations are.

Dutch delegation committee member H.W. (Rian) Vogels, of the VVD liberal party, concluded the meeting and commended the Prime Minister and by extension the Council of Ministers on helping to build a stronger Sint Maarten during the past four years despite having to face numerous challenges, resulting in a stable governing period with notable benefits. “A stronger Sint Maarten benefits the entire Kingdom,” she stated. These sentiments were shared by the entire delegation.

The 17-strong delegation of the Dutch House of Representatives (including support staff), and led by committee chair, Paul Rosenmoller (GroenLinks–PvdA), consists of different party factions who will be in the Caribbean for a working visit from February 9 to February 20.

Chris Johnson, the representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg accompanied the delegation.

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L to R: Committee chair, Paul Rosenmoller and Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.

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