- EUSTATIUS–The Cooperative Platform, consisting of former Island Governor Gerald Berkel and representatives of United People’s Coalition (UPC), the Democratic Party (DP) and Statia Liberal Action Movement (SLAM) said Monday they observed the parliamentary debates which took place regarding the intervention on St. Eustatius and the social minimum for the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands last week.
With regard to the intervention the Platform’s spokesperson Berkel said in a press statement it was “cautiously optimistic,” given the line of questioning during the debate.
“It was clear that the Members of Parliament (MPs) took serious note of the situation on St. Eustatius during their visit this summer and is using this information received to address the challenges seriously.”
The Platform was also “particularly” pleased with the tone of debate regarding the Island Council elections of March 2019. Similarly to the position of the Platform, most MPs acknowledged the democratic deficit to be created by a possible postponement of the Island Council election of March 2019.
“Also the wish by many factions in the Committee for Kingdom Relations for a transitional period whereby the Kingdom Commissioner remains next to an elected Island Council, also advised at the time by the Council of State, coincides with the opinion of the Platform,” it was stated.
The statement of State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops that there will “definitely” be elections for the Electoral College in March 2019 for the election of the First Chamber while there is still uncertainty regarding an election in Statia, the Platform considers “rather questionable.”
The Platform, however, stated it is looking forward to the state secretary’s report on this issue which will be submitted mid-November.
The Platform maintains its preference for a transitional period starting with the regularly scheduled Island Council election in March 2019, after which the newly-elected Island Council would work with the government commissioners for “a certain period of time. In the opinion of the Platform this transitional period will largely increase the chances for success of the intervention,” it was stated.
Regarding the Dutch government’s decision not to establish a social minimum for residents in the Caribbean Netherlands, the Platform shares the disappointment of the Executive Council of Saba and the Island Council of Bonaire.
“The Platform believes that the challenges faced by many families living in poverty should be amongst the highest priorities of government. The Platform recognizes that the announced intermediate measures are most welcome and should bring some relief to these households. The establishment of a social minimum, however, will fulfil the promise made in 10-10-10 to come to a, within The Netherlands acceptable standard of living for the people on the islands. It will also help both national and local government to synchronize their efforts in achieving the goal of creating an environment where an acceptable, officially established, social minimum is the expectation of each citizen,” according to the cooperative Platform.