Nicolaas “Koos” Sneek
ST. EUSTATIUS–The recently formed List Sneek presented its action plan 2020-2023 to Government Commissioner in St. Eustatius Marnix van Rij. The one-man faction was formed after Island Councilman Nicolaas “Koos” Sneek resigned from the Democratic Party (DP) almost immediately after the Island Council election of October 21.
Sneek said his action plan is for the current governing period. “It includes a number of areas with concrete actions that should contribute to the improvement of our infrastructure, our economy, the functioning of government and the general well-being of the people of Statia. It may be ambitious, but it shows that there are a lot of things that still need to be done.”
The action plan is divided into 12 chapters addressing the living environment, the harbour, airlift, housing, the cost of living, the economy, finance, education, healthcare, the constitutional status, culture and justice.
Regardless of the limited authority the Island Council has in the first phases towards the restoration of full democracy in Statia, Sneek said he sees it as his responsibility to present a “constructive and detailed plan” to improve the situation in Statia.
“We realise that we can only be successful when we work together as an Island Council in close collaboration with the government commissioner and, hopefully, later with an appointed Executive Council. In some instances, also collaboration with the Island Councils of Bonaire and Saba will increase our chances of success,” Sneek stated in his action plan titled “A New Beginning”.
Sneek says he seeks broad-based support, not only locally but also from the Dutch Parliament and the various ministries in The Hague.
The outlined plans include concrete actions to be taken. In some cases, these may coincide with plans or programmes that are already in the pipeline, but “sharing these ideas will contribute to the success of those plans,” Sneek explained.
The ongoing discussion about Statia’s constitutional status should shift from a change to another status to a discussion on how to improve the island’s current status, he said. “This discussion on increasing the autonomy can be held within the confines of the public entity status.”
The one-man faction also makes a plea for more economic diversification, as Statia’s vulnerable economy is strongly dependent on its oil terminal. Sneek said this is an increasing point of concern, as the awareness of global warming and climate change leads to a move away from fossil fuels to alternative energy resources.
“The alternatives to oil transhipment for Statia do not appear endless. Expanding in sustainable tourism is for a Caribbean destination most likely a viable option. Having sun and sea but no beaches may be an obstacle. Therefore, it is important that other niches must be explored such as history and the link with the United States through the ‘First Salute’, nature, and simply the peace and quiet,” said Sneek.
Where economic development is concerned, the harbour is considered Statia’s most important asset, but it currently is underutilised and the harbour as a hub or transhipment port for the surrounding islands has not sufficiently been explored, according to List Sneek.
“There is a plan from 14 years ago to relocate the commercial harbour to Schotsenhoek. The existing harbour can then be transformed with some minor adjustments into a harbour for yachting and small cruise ships and to be developed as one of the island’s tourism assets.”
Agreeing that Statia’s healthcare system is “one of the best in the world and available for all” due to the general healthcare insurance, most bones of contention are with the functioning of Health Insurance Office ZVK, the referral system “and how patients often feel being treated by this agency.”
Other health concerns are about the need for most mothers to deliver their babies in St. Maarten and the strain for dialysis patients to undergo their treatment overseas in St. Maarten three times a week, instead of locally, said Sneek.
He proposes an independent inquiry into the functioning of ZVK and the referral system, and to explore the possibility for all babies to be born in Statia and to make provisions for dialysis patients to be treated in Statia.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/list-sneek-presents-its-action-plan-2020-2023