SINT EUSTATIUS – On Friday, March 11th 2011 the newly installed Executive Council of St. Eustatius held its first monthly Press Conference along with the Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen in the V.A. Lopes legislative Hall.
The Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel opened the press conference addressing the immediate actions by the newly appointed commissioners on their first day. He used the expression” on day one they hit the ground running.” He passed the word over to Commissioner Clyde van Putten followed by Commissioner Glenn Schmidt and concluded with the deputy Kingdom representative Mr. Hans Gerritsen.
Mr. Clyde van Putten highlighted the areas discussed in the Executive Council with the Kingdom representative. He talked about the education conference for March 25 and 26th 2011 where the Minister of Education of the Netherlands, Mrs. Maria Bijsterveld would be present.
The Commissioners of Education and stakeholders of the various Territories (Saba and Bonaire) would also be participating in this conference. To assure that St. Eustatius is well prepared he announced that he would talk to his predecessor Mr. Roy Hooker, who was responsible for education for two terms.
The outcome of the elections was briefly touched. He hopes that the results of the election sends a clear message to the Dutch Government stationed in the Hague, that the people of Statia wanted change. He said that the newly formed coalition does not oppose the status but the content needs to be reviewed, areas like healthcare and taxes needs to be looked at.
Another area which successive governments talked about is proper housing for the government administration. When we talk about good governance we need to assure that civil servants have the necessary tools and good housing facility to accomplish this. The lengthy procedures of government for decision-making should be something of the past. One of their campaign promises was to assure that the general public acquire timely and active information from the Island Government through the office of the Government Information Service.
To accomplish this goal they wish to restructure the government information service to be able to have nightly TV programming. Mr. van Putten concluded that the newly formed coalition government is for all the people of St. Eustatius.
Commissioner Schmidt, described his first day as exciting, although they just went through the recent election followed by the inauguration on March 10th and immediately at work on March 11th 2011. His introductory meeting in his new capacity as commissioner with Mr. Hans Gerritsen was pleasant. In this meeting they became knowledgeable of his interest and concerns.
They hope to have a good working relationship with him to get the necessary results for the people of Statia. They talked about many issues of which Transparency in government stood out. Reviewing this topic in general and the functioning of government it must be transparent to the public. He explained about his relatively large family of which his sister and other relatives are employed at finance and other areas of government.
When certain services are to be carried out through these sectors, the people need to know that it has the Executive councils approval. Another important topic was that of the governing programme of the government. Mr. Glenn Schmidt explained that the coalition parties are in the process of putting a committee together to complete the governing programme. He gave a time frame of 60 days in which the programme will be completed. Thereafter it will be presented to the Island council who will hold the Executive Council accountable for carrying it out within 4 years.
The Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen opened his address by congratulating the Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel for the good flow of the elections. He also extended his congratulations to the newly appointed commissioners for the accomplishments of their parties. They briefly talked about the role of the Kingdom Representative, with the chief responsibility to look at the governments on the islands with the objective that there is good governance.
Listening to the steps to be taken by the commissioner with regard to transparency in government was of an important and positive nature. He mentioned the Dualism, which is the change in the ground rules. He indicated in the Executive Council Meeting the urgency of the appointment of a Griffier (recorder) responsible for the preparations of everything surrounding the Island Council meetings.
It is customary to host a press conference after each visit of the Kingdom Representative to inform the general public of the points that were discussed. Although these press conferences are usually short in nature, the government will enlighten the public more detailed on these topics through the Government Information Service weekly press conferences.