21 December 2010

Netherlands MPs Want More Control over Dutch 'Autonomous' Countries in the Caribbean

Dutch MPs want stricter control of new countries

by The Daily Herald

THE HAGUE - Members of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber have presented several motions seeking to force the Dutch government to keep a close watch on countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. The motions were submitted during the handling of the 2011 draft budget for Kingdom Relations last week Thursday.

One motion of the Party for Freedom (PVV), Christian Democratic Party (CDA) and the Liberal Democratic (VVD) party calls for the Dutch cabinet to do everything in its power to guarantee that the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) can properly execute its task to monitor the finances of countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. Monitoring should prevent the Netherlands from ever having to pay the debts of the islands again.

Together, PVV, CDA and VVD have a majority in the Dutch Parliament. CDA and VVD together form the cabinet, which is supported by PVV. Several opposition parties may very well support the motion when it comes to voting tomorrow, Tuesday, along with 10 others. Parties have expressed concerns about the financial management of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Member of Parliament (MP) Hero Brinkman (PVV) stated last week that he was worried about actions by the new countries to "undermine" the financial supervision legislation that was approved in the Second and First Chambers earlier this year.

"This motion explicitly states that this cabinet has to make sure that CFT can do its work in such a way that we never again have to pick up the tab. I want to be informed every six months if debts are created. If a situation looms whereby the islands can't afford the interest on those debts, I want to be informed and I want action taken under the guarantee function," said Brinkman, explaining the reasons for his motion during the budget debate, late Thursday night.

MP Martijn van Dam of the Labour Party PvdA submitted a motion calling for the Dutch cabinet to report on the political and governmental developments in Curaçao and St. Maarten since acquiring country status on October 10 this year. Van Dam wants this report around January 10, 2011.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner said he was willing to comply with Van Dam's motion if the date of reporting was delayed by two weeks. Donner explained that he would be visiting the islands from January 10 to 15.

Van Dam's motion speaks of a "worrisome" situation in Curaçao and St. Maarten, where principles of good governance were probably being violated. The motion states that the new countries have indicated that they want to get out of the agreements that were made with the Netherlands and that the islands have tried to circumvent the Kingdom Consensus Laws and financial supervision.

MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) submitted a motion requesting government to draft a position paper on the guarantee function of the Kingdom government as stated in Article 43 of the (Kingdom) Charter. Several other parties, including CDA, VVD and PVV, want this included in a broader position paper on the Kingdom that government will be presented with early next year.

MP Ineke van Gent of the green left party GroenLinks, along with Van Dam, Van Raak and Wassila Hachchi of Democrats D66, submitted a motion to make the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations the contact person for the Dutch special municipalities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Van Gent, Hachchi, Van Dam and Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union (CU) submitted a motion requesting government to draft a plan of approach aimed at developing future perspectives for pregnant, teenage girls and young, single mothers in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Parliament doesn't want pregnant, teenage girls to be dismissed from school on the islands.

Ortega-Martijn, Hachchi, Van Dam, Van Gent, Van Raak and Van Bochove presented a motion calling on government to establish a temporary facility to make it possible to exchange the Antillean guilder in the European part of the Netherlands. Exchange offices and commercial banks in the Netherlands no longer accept the Antillean guilder. Parliament considers it incorrect that citizens weren't informed of this in a timely manner.

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