Van Huffelen: Coordination of policy for Caribbean Neths. has improved

The co­ordination of Dutch min­istries in The Hague for policies for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba has im­proved over the years, stat­ed Caretaker State Secre­tary of Kingdom Relations Alexandra Van Huffelen at the Permanent Committee Kingdom Relations of the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament debate on the annual report for 2023 last week. Partly because of the improved coordination, the capacity of local gov­ernance has strengthened, the state secretary said.

The coordination from The Hague was an im­portant topic during the debate. Member of Par­liament (MP) Peter van Haasen of the Party for Freedom (PVV) stated that he thinks that policy is too fragmented across various ministries. MPs Ingrid Mi­chon Derksen of the Peo­ple’s Party for Freedom and Democracy VVD, Raoul White of Groenlinks-PvdA and Faith Bruyning of the New Social Contract (NSC) Party asked Van Huffelen to reflect on the coordina­tion from the Dutch gov­ernment, while MP Jan Paternotte of D66 questioned whether the state secretary requires additional tools to guide other ministries.

“I see that things are run­ning better and better, and that issues are being re­solved. We see that coor­dination is strengthening. Particularly thanks to the efforts of my colleagues from other departments, we are supporting one another more” said Van Huffelen.

The state secretary made clear that she does not believe that her ministry should have more authority. She emphasized that it is beneficial for several ministries to be involved in policy for the Caribbean part of the kingdom. Af­ter all, these ministries are usually the experts for the issues at hand. “It is not necessary to transfer parts to BZK [the Ministry of In­terior Affairs and Kingdom Relations-Ed.] and take care of all the coordination from our side. That doesn’t seem right to me, but com­ing together very regularly is important,” she said.

Among other things, coor­dination helps prevent the various ministries from ex­pecting too much and ask­ing too much of local gov­ernments, which are actual­ly always understaffed, the state secretary explained.

But, says Van Huffelen, during her last working visit she saw that all three islands have hired people for the implementation of projects, but also for tasks such as the administration, financial management and legislation. Van Huffelen also sees room for im­provement. The focus is often on the coordination of policy in The Hague, but sometimes it is better to consult together with local administrators and Dutch ministries, such as was the case recently during the ad­ministrative WoIBES and FinBES conference. “Sit­ting together and thinking about the priorities. That could perhaps be done more often, perhaps as part of that new wind,” she said, referring to Van Haasen’s statement that her succes­sor might opt for a “wind of change blowing through the department and in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom, both in the wind­ward and leeward islands.”

The Daily Herald.

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