More Island Council members, commissioners for Saba, Statia

The num­ber of Island Council (IC) members in St. Eustatius and Saba will increase from the current five to eleven and nine, respectively, in 2027. The number of com­missioners on these two islands will go from two to three per that date.

Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen announced this in a recent update to the Sec­ond Chamber of the Dutch Parliament with regard to the law proposal to change the WoIBES, the general law that regulates the public entities Bonaire, St. Eusta­tius and Saba.

Considering the relatively large number of tasks that the public entities have and the high work pressure of the local administrations, it has been proposed to in­crease the number of mem­bers of the Island Councils and Executive Councils of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The public entities cur­rently have a fixed number of IC members, which is significantly lower than in a municipality of similar size in the Netherlands, stated Van Huffelen. Bonaire has nine IC members and Saba and St. Eustatius, five each.

According to the state secretary, these numbers do not fit with the growth of the population since the WoIBES was implemented on October 10, 2010, when the three islands became public entities of the Neth­erlands.

“Furthermore, an increase of the number of Island Council members facilitates a broadening and differen­tiation of the political input from the population and in general strengthens the gov­ernment capacity and the democratic control,” stated Van Huffelen.

The law proposal to amend the WolBES, which is cur­rently in consultation and which should be presented to the Second Chamber be­fore the summer next year, suggested to have the public entities tie into the regula­tion for Dutch municipali­ties, whereby the number of IC members is linked to the number of inhabitants, with a minimum of nine mem­bers.

This means that Saba’s IC will grow to nine members per January 1, 2027, St. Eustatius’s to 11 and Bo­naire’s to 15 per January 1, 2027, and 19 per January 1, 2031. The number of Island Council members for Saba and St. Eustatius will not further increase in 2031.

In Dutch municipalities, the minimum number of aldermen is two. Saba and St. Eustatius currently each have two commissioners, and Bonaire three. The public entities have indicat­ed in consultations with the Dutch government that they need more commissioners because of the large number of tasks and the high work pressure of the public enti­ties.

It was agreed to introduce a minimum of three com­missioners for each of the public entities. In the case of Saba and St. Eustatius the number would be three per January 1, 2027, and in Bonaire, four per January 1, 2027, and five per January 1, 2031. In Saba and St. Eusta­tius, the number of commis­sioners will remain at three.

Van Huffelen stated that an increase of the number of Island Council and Ex­ecutive Council members was not the only way of strengthening the govern­ment capacity. She said the strengthening of knowledge and skills of current and future people’s representa­tives deserved attention as well.

In preparation for the in­crease in the number of Is­land Council and Executive Council members, the Min­istry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK will offer support to facili­tate a broader participation from the (younger) popula­tion and education for cur­rent and future politicians. Van Huffelen stated in her letter to the Second Cham­ber that in the past period, there had been many con­sultations with the public entities with regard to the changing of the WoIBES and that she experienced these talks as “very con­structive.”

The Daily Herald.

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