Commissioner “Mike” Franco has ‘mission’ on St. Eustatius

Central Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco in his office at the Government Administration Building.


ST. EUSTATIUS–“I came here with one mission and that is to try to implement as much as possible to make Statia wonderful again. I hope I will get the cooperation of most of the people, so we can make this transition as short as possible, and for the best success for the island,” Central Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” said in an interview with The Daily Herald.

Describing under which process St. Eustatius was taken over by the Dutch Government, Franco said Bonaire, Statia and Saba are municipalities of the Netherlands. If a Dutch municipality is not following the laws and not performing its duty, they are suspended, and a Minister takes over. In Statia’s case State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops is governing the island.

The State Secretary is accountable to the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber, just like his deputies are accountable to him. Franco said because State Secretary Knops cannot do the job alone, and is not physically able to be on the island for most of the time, he appointed the Central Government Commissioner and his deputy Mervyn Stegers to do the job for him.

The Acting Island Governor, Commissioners, Island Council, Dutch Government Representative and the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT have all been suspended of their duties, with the Government Commissioner and his deputy taking over the responsibility for all these positions.

One of Franco’s and Stegers’ responsibilities is the signing of official Government documents. “We chose to sign the documents in the same form that everyone is accustomed to. That does not mean that we are the Governor, the Commissioners, et cetera. We are the Central Government Commissioners acting in law for the Governor and the Commissioners.”

Social Advisory Board

Commissioner Franco explained that the laws of the land will not be changed. Statia will be governed in accordance with the WolBES and FinBES laws.

The Commissioners will be assisted by a Social Advisory Council. Regarding the composition of the Council, Franco said they tried to ensure that all layers of the population were duly represented, including persons of Hispanic and Asian descent, as well as representatives of different religions. “The board is a mixture of men and women representing the entire community on the island.”

Franco said the Board’s composition is not static. “At certain times we can add more people, and when we notice that someone is not attending meetings, we will remove that person and put someone else in their place. As we continue we will may make the Board a little broader also,” he said.

Asked about alleged corruption charges against the deposed Island Government, Franco said that every budget must be accounted for in the annual account.

“In the annual accounts you will see if these were done properly or not. If there is money missing or unaccounted for, then an investigation will be launched,” Franco assured.

Asked about Jeems Road and other projects, Franco said the Jeems Road repairs are already signed off and awarded to two contractors.

“We held up the project for a little while to be sure that if the road needs any underground cabling this can be done before the road is repaved. That is the only reason we stopped the project.”

Franco said the Commissioners are not going to stop any project that has been signed by the Island Government. “We’re not reviewing projects to stop them, but just to ensure these do not interfere with other projects or to make sure that things are not done twice.”

Considering that Statia is in the hurricane belt and its wiring infrastructure is above ground, it would be much safer and cost-effective to install underground cabling.

Source: The Daily Herald