photo: John Samson

ORANJESTAD – St. Eustatius would like that the disagreements between its local government and the Dutch government be worked out as soon as possible.

This disagreement concerns financial support from the Netherlands and the manner in which the Netherlands deals with the administering of the island. The government of St. Eustatius sent a letter to Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on Tuesday. Via this channel of communication, St. Eustatius hopes to prevent the situation from “escalating and getting worse.”

Amongst concerns addressed in the letter, are the strict financial supervision and the role of Minister Plasterk. He is accused of ignoring independent advice and the civil servants who work for the Minister are accused of violating regulations. The letter further states that the government of St. Eustatius feels whenever it is critical of the Dutch government, the Netherlands “ignores” the critic or “penalizes” St. Eustatius with the “discontinuation of certain contacts.”

The Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) confirmed receiving the letter, but at the moment did not want to respond on the key concerns pointed out in the letter. However a spokesperson for Minister Plasterk noted that a representative of BZK would be visiting the island on Thursday and Friday in efforts to improve relations between St. Eustatius and the Netherlands. “The situation is worrisome,” said the spokesperson. “The Netherlands also feels that something needs to be done.”

Discussions with stakeholders
St. Eustatius is asking for a “neutral chairperson” to ensure transparency. The island government thinks all stakeholders should be involved in the discussions: the island government, the Kingdom Representative, the Ministry of BZK and the institutions that control St. Eustatius’ finances – the Financial Supervisory Board, and the companies PwC and KPMG.