Eliminating position National Government Representative

-The position of the National Government Representa­tive for the Caribbean Netherlands will definitely be eliminated. His tasks will be divided among the min­ister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, the island governors and possibly a disaster management of­ficial. 

Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen confirmed this in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thurs­day in which she gave an up­date on the pending changes to the Caribbean Netherlands Public Entities Law WoIBES. The function of the National Government Representative (“Rijksvertegenwoordiger”), a position currently held on an interim basis by Jan Helmond, has been a source of discus­sion for some time. “The hy­brid character of the function of National Government Rep­resentative has made this po­sition extremely challenging. The representative has both supervisory and coordinating tasks that in daily practice are hard to combine,” stated Van Huffelen.

The Council of State had already advised in 2019 to eliminate this position and to place his supervisory tasks under the island governor or the minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. The island governors would keep in direct contact with the state secretary for Kingdom Rela­tions.

According to the Council of State, the elimination of the National Government Rep­resentative, referred to as an “extra layer” between the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the Dutch government, will result in more transparency and im­prove communication.

In October 2019, the Dutch government indicated that it needed time to carefully prepare this change and the transfer of tasks of the Nation­al Government Representa­tive. “In the meantime, it has been proven that the transfer of tasks is possible and desir­able,” stated Van Huffelen in her letter to Parliament.

The proposal is to give the island governors of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba the task to promote good governance and collaboration, and to re­port to the minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Rela­tions. The island governors already have the authority to send controversial decisions to the minister for annulment. The minister will become re­sponsible for supervision and the issuing of special permis­sions to Island Council mem­bers or the island governor.

The National Government Representative also has a coordinating role in disaster management. According to Van Huffelen, no decision has been taken whether this task will be transferred to another official.

The elimination of the posi­tion of representative will also result in the elimination of a contact person between The Hague and the islands. lb give content to this sounding board function, the public entities will receive an as yet unde­fined amount to maintain and improve relations with The Hague. Mutual trust, custom work and more local freedom will play a role in this.

The proposals to amend the WoIBES and the Caribbean Netherlands Financial Law Public Entities FinBES are currently in the consultation phase. The intention is to se­cure the changes in the sum­mer of 2023 and to send the law proposal to the Second Chamber.

The Daily Herald.

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