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From June 12th to June 18th, Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation (Koninkrijksrelaties en Digitalisering) Alexandra van Huffelen and Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning (Volkshuisvesting en Ruimtelijke Ordening) Hugo de Jonge will be visiting the Dutch Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES) as part of a week-long work visit. After this visit, State Secretary Van Huffelen will travel on to Aruba, where she has a meeting planned with the Prime Ministers of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten (CAS). On the 20th of June, they will discuss, among other topics, the Tijdelijke Werkorganisatie (roughly translated as the Temporary Work Organization), which will eventually be converted into the Caribisch Orgaan voor Hervorming en Ontwikkeling (Caribbean Entity for Reform and Development) or COHO.
More money for Caribbean Netherlands
In the most recent coalition agreement in the European Netherlands, it is stated that an additional € 30 million will be made available for the Caribbean Netherlands from 2023 onwards. Van Huffelen’s and De Jonge’s trip was planned in this light, as the central government is determined to spend not just more money, but also more time on the Caribbean islands within the Kingdom. The central Dutch ministries want to make more and better work of their responsibilities in the Caribbean region, which is also why Minister of Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions (Armoedebeleid, Participatie en Pensioenen) Carola Schouten and Minister for Primary and Secondary Education (Primair en Voortgezet Onderwijs) Dennis Wiersma recently paid a work visit to the Dutch Caribbean.
“Now more than ever, in the midst of these globally tough times, it’s extra important to hear from the people themselves what their needs and wants are”, says State Secretary Van Huffelen about the recent visits to the Dutch Caribbean islands.
Tailor-made visits per island
Both Van Huffelen and De Jonge have programs that are partly combined and partly individual, and they will attend various meetings together as well. On top of that, their programs are tuned to the specific needs and situations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, respectively. Minister De Jonge, for example, will be focusing on better familiarizing himself with the local people and the problems that exist locally in terms of living and spatial planning. He will also be discussing measures to support the improvement of living standards in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
To give you an idea of what the Minister will be working on during his visit: in Saba, he will attend various meetings with the Island Council, where the fight against plastic waste and the preservation of cultural heritage on the island will be among the primary topics. In St. Eustatius, restoration of the democratic system, sustainable energy policies and the preservation of cultural heritage will be on the agenda. Finally, in Bonaire, De Jonge’s meetings will mainly be revolving around the local history of slavery, nature preservation and protection, talks with local youth, and improving opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
The basis for this article was originally published on www.antilliaansdagblad.com and others in June 2022.