Govt. Commissioner Franco meets with NGO’s on Statia

Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco and Acting Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers (at the head of the table from left) meeting with representatives of non-governmental organisations at Gertrude Judson Bicentennial Public Library.

ST. EUSTATIUS–Dutch Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco and Acting Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers set up a meeting with Directors and Board Presidents of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of St. Eustatius.

The nine foundations present included the Housing Foundation, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Stenapa, Gertrude Judson Bicentennial Public Library, Buzzy Bees day care centre, the Monuments Foundation and Historical Foundation, Small Enterprise Development and St. Eustatius Foundation (SEF).

Some of those present noted the absence of St. Eustatius Centre for Archaeological Research (SECAR) and St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation (STDF), which are Government- subsidized foundations carrying out a public task.

Franco and Stegers explained that they chose this meeting with the NGO’s as the quickest way to get to learn some more about the organisations and their people without having to decide with whom to meet first.

The meeting acted as a kind of mutual meet-and-greet for both the new people in charge of the island and the NGO’s.

Several representatives used the opportunity to mention the most urgent issues their organisations are facing. Often these are about funding.

   Franco explained that the Dutch Government has made an extra 10 million euros available for post-Irma reconstruction on St. Maarten, Saba and Statia.

One pertinent question from one of the representatives was about the role of the recently installed Social Advisory Board. “Is it through this Board that our foundation has to go to when interacting with Government?” it was asked.

The answer from Franco was a clear “No.” For matters pertaining to the relationship between the foundations and the Government, the foundations should go directly to the Government Commissioner or the Acting Government Commissioner.

There were also questions about the cuts in subsidies foundations were suddenly faced with in 2016-2017.

Franco initially replied by saying that foundations must be accountable to qualify for the subsidies. However, it was made clear to him that also foundations that duly submitted their financial reports had their subsidies cut – on some occasions without any notice whatsoever.

Source: The Daily Herald