Opinion: PEP – fun trip to the Netherlands? Not Really

Dear Editor,

Annually in June, Island and Executive Council members of the BES islands and their staff travel to the Netherlands for the VNG Congress. It’s customary that the delegations add several meetings with ministries, various committees, and organizations to the agenda to sort of “kill two birds with one stone,” so to speak, while in the Netherlands.

Residents of Saba often believe these trips are nothing but mini vacations funded by the taxpayer’s money because developments and updates from these trips could be more transparent. During the last two weeks (June 5th – 16th), the Island Council had a full agenda and discussed various issues with federal government representatives in The Netherlands and other organizations.

An island tour lead to a great surprise for the for the hosts on Schiermonnikoog as some of the BES delegation had never used a bicycle before. (Photo de Volkskrant)

It was also a privilege to visit the island Schiermonnikoog and learn about the challenges faced on the Wadden Islands, islands in the European Netherlands.

See the article published on the Public Entity Saba’s Facebook page for further details of the ICM agenda.

What is the VNG?

The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG), established in 1912, is where all Dutch municipalities are members, and other members are the countries Aruba and Curacao. The public bodies Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba have been members since 1995. Source: https://vng.nl/artikelen/about-the-vng

Here’s what your PEP fraction is bringing back to the island;

  1. A better understanding of these trips and the significance of them. The ministries expect more initiative from the island, and that’s a clear PEP goal. We will be contacting and communicating frequently with them. We should make more proposals instead of waiting for suggestions from The Hague. We are the experts of our islands. We need to start acting like it.
  2. A promise to work closer with Bonaire, Statia, and even St Maarten because it is necessary; forming and building working connections is vital. We had the great privilege of collaborating with Statia and Bonaire in various meetings while in the Netherlands, and we look forward to strengthening those bonds. A joint plan is coming, and we will make sure of that.
  3. A governing program. A governing program is a plan that outlines the priorities for the governing term, giving the Executive Council the framework for executing its tasks. As far as we know, this has never happened on Saba. Please correct us if we are wrong. The WIPM party has let us know that they will be working on the governing program, and they will present it within the first 100 days after the election, and we will have the chance to discuss it during an Island Council meeting.
  4. Greetings from some of the ministries and organizations we visited, which are pleased that there’s opposition again on Saba. They said hurray for democracy and Congrats.

We must highlight how much we impressed the BES delegation and government representatives with our professional approach. As a solid and constructive team, we gained respect, recognition, and praise for our proficiency. We see this as a great start to forging meaningful connections and working for our fellow residents of Saba.

Outside the regular program, we met as the PEP Party with the Dutch Labor Union FNV and discussed the possibility of having a FNV Labor Union representation on Saba.

Furthermore, we spoke with the mayors of the different islands about a twinning project between both islands since we have numerous similar problems and issues. We also discussed the possible donation of a new boat for the Saba Sea Rescue. The other one is a cultural exchange between both islands. We made a lot of connections with various parties, and we will continue working on these connections.

Finally, this trip was once again an eye-opener to the current functioning of the Island Council. There is a necessity for much-needed training to upgrade ourselves as a body, operating in the interest of our people.

PEP made a clear plan of what we wanted to achieve during the two weeks in the Netherlands, and mission accomplished!!

We remain committed to working for you regardless of party colors/lines.


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