Published On: Mon, Feb 5th, 2018

Koos Sneek: “Very unfortunate, but unavoidable”

Dear Editor,

This morning early, I have taken notice of the news that the National Government has taken the decision to sideline the government of St. Eustatius and to appoint a special commissioner who will take over the governing of the island. This decision has been taken following the report, conclusions, and recommendations of the committee of wise men.

The measure, although very unfortunate, to me has been unavoidable. As an island council member, I have seen this coming for a while. I am not happy about it and it is nothing to rejoice over.

Unfortunately, our government keeps on ignoring laws and procedures. Democracy is trampled on, whereby the island council has become a rubber stamp. Able and capable civil servants have left, whether voluntarily or by force and have been replaced by friends and political associates. The contacts with the national government are avoided and almost non-existent. Outside help is declined, unless where it concerns highly paid lawyers who are hired to get Statia into the poorly thought out autonomous status this coalition government envisions. Physically the island is in a bad shape. Besides the recent surfacing of a 50 meter stretch of the Bay Road no accomplishments can be recorded by the PLP/Merkman coalition in the three years that they are in office.

The state of affairs this government has put the island in is not just a matter that concerns the Democratic Party as the opposition. This way of running a government has a negative effect on the entire population. It prevents the development of our island and it stands in the way of improvement of the wellbeing of the people of Statia.

The report of the wise men is a litany of mismanagement and unlawful practices by our local government. It however also is very critical about the actions of the national government and how they have dealt with Statia in the Dutch constellation since 10-10-10. I share this criticism.

The report also advises the Dutch government to work hard on the backlogs in areas such as infrastructure, economic development, poverty alleviation and the financial situation of government. This is already supported by the governing program of the newly sitting government. I sincerely hope that the effects will become visible in the very near future.

The committee of wise men expects that it will take at least two years to get the island back on track. I sincerely hope that it will take less time and that we will be able to keep island council elections next year March.

Honestly, I am kind of surprised that the coalition apparently did not expect this measure, or at least taken measures to avoid it. I hope that they will not play the victim, but that they are prepared to do some serious soul searching.

Although that through this measure I, as an island council member, am sidelined too, I will do all in my power to accommodate the improvement of the situation of Statia and to avoid that the measure will take longer than strictly necessary. This measure must lead to a more effective and better functioning government, the enhancement of our island and to the improvement of the circumstances we are living in. Otherwise all will be in vain.