photo: RCN

ORANJESTAD – Dutch government commissioner for St.Eustatius, Marcolino ‘Mike’ Franco, made his first public appearance at PJB50 Radio Statia Sunday afternoon. “I don’t want to ask for trust, I want to work and then earn it”, expressed Franco.

Franco was appointed as government commissioner of the island, after the Dutch government took over the public office at the beginning of this month. The acting interim-government contains Franco together with governor Mervyn Stegers. They installed an ‘Advisory Board’, representing the population in St. Eustatius.

Commissioner Franco talks about the distrust against the Advisory board on PJB50 Radio Statia

The ‘Advisory Board’, consisting of fifteen persons, are representing the population in St. Eustatius since Tuesday. The advisory board “may advise and indicate how the population thinks about the approach of the Council”, according to Government Information Services Statia.

Government commissioner Marcolino Franco (left) with acting Governor Mervyn Stegers. Photo: RCN

Input from the community
Franco explains: “This board has no real authority until we give those persons so. Because there is no Island Council, this board would allow us to gather information from the community to advise on our decision making. Also, civil servants will be trained to be upgraded in order to do their jobs more efficiently.”

Malware attack
Monday after the Dutch invention, civil servants were not able to use their computers. ICT persons discovered a malware attack on the server resulting in an ongoing investigation with the police. The damaged server has been removed and replaced with a new one resulting in lost data.

Franco: “Civil servants still received their salaries, which was important. Paper files are in custody while digital files are still questionable. This problem is in the right hands at the police and public prosecutor as I know Statians are concerned. Within a month we will have a better look at where we stand and discuss a plan to get it in order.”

Poor roads at St. Eustatius. Photo: Esther Henry

Future projects
St. Eustatius’s constitutional change 7 years ago, becoming the second smallest special municipality of the Netherlands, still suffers from poor roads. The first half of the renovation of Orange Bay Road in Lower Town St. Eustatius was completed on January 28. “Resurfacing of the badly damaged roads such as the Mansion Road area is of focus now, until there are financial funds to cover the whole island”, said civil servant Robert Redan.

Franco adds: “The 6 million euros for the roads will first start with the approval of the European Union then the bidding process within a possible of 3 months, finally pavements will be completed before the end of the year.”

Sharing knowledge with locals
He continued: “Experts that fly in, will do the projects as well as sharing their knowledge and experience with the locals, to avoid foreign persons remaining on the island. This is an advantage for the locals.”