CoM talks tax reform, general health insurance, prison with Van Huffelen | THE DAILY HERALD

Dutch State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen and Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina.

PHILIPSBURG–Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen met with Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina, Governor Ajamu Baly and the Council of Ministers (CoM) during her working visit to St. Maarten on Friday, May 31.

Mercelina personally welcomed Van Huffelen at Princess Juliana International Airport, after which they travelled together to the location of their first meeting.

In an informal setting during the initial meeting, they engaged in open and frank discussions on Trust Fund projects and the reform packages, according to a press release.

The meeting was also attended by support staff from the Department of the Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BAK, National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB), the CoM Secretariat, the office of the representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg VNP, the Directorate Kingdom Relations, and the State Secretary’s direct support staff.

During the meeting, Mercelina emphasised the importance of structural involvement and communication from all parties and entities of both the Dutch and St. Maarten governments, highlighting inclusion and co-ownership.

Van Huffelen acknowledged the existing positive partnership and the importance of having a clear long-term vision with clearly established targets.

Slavery was another topic of discussion, with the Prime Minister reiterating the proposal to rename the national slavery museum as a Kingdom Museum to reflect the shared slavery history of all countries in the Kingdom.

The two parties discussed the idea of establishing satellite museums throughout the Kingdom to create uniformity in the conscientization of slavery.

Discussions also covered the return of St. Maarten’s students, the landfill, and ensuring sufficient, sustainable, and climate-friendly energy while looking at alternative energy sources such as wind farms, solar, or a combination, while considering St. Maarten’s location in the hurricane belt.

During the meeting with CoM, Mercelina opened by acknowledging the empathy the State Secretary displayed to the people of St. Maarten in overcoming the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, September 2017.

He thanked the State Secretary for her support, saying that the people of St. Maarten will forever be thankful for her contributions.

In a gesture of appreciation, the State Secretary was presented with the recently-launched autobiography of Ruby Bute, whom she met on several occasions during her tenure, and a colourful clutch designed by local artist Jolie Duzon, reflecting the State Secretary’s vibrant manner in working with the different countries and her colourful personal style.

The CoM meeting further included Minister of Finance Marinka Gumbs, Minister of Justice Lyndon Lewis, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Veronica Jansen-Webster and Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Gracita Arrindell.

Discussions continued on tax reform, general health insurance, and the prison. Although the State Secretary will soon be leaving her position due to the swearing-in of the new Dutch Government, support from the Directorate of Kingdom Relations, the office of the Representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg VNP and the Temporary Work Organization (TWO) has been

pledged by the State Secretary to continue to St Maarten.

During the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Washington, DC, for the Steering Committee meeting on the Trust Fund projects, emphasis will be placed on ensuring that the remaining funds are applied effectively to complete ongoing projects, according to the release.

Source: The Daily Herald