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Knops 11: £5 Million Added To BES Provisions, With Regarding Baseline Measurement: Was Baseline Measurement Done At That Time?

State Secretary Knops:
In itself, from an organizational perspective, I can follow that. I do not know if you have been to the islands, but when you get there, you will see that all three are completely different, are also very far apart, and that the perception on the islands themselves is often different. They’re all BES. They are all public bodies, but it is still a difference whether you are downwind on Bonaire or 1,000 kilometers away on Saba or Sint-Eustatius, not from an organizational point of view but from ownership. We all have to take that with us.
Mr Raven (OSF):
That shareholding could be expressed by more bonding. What I also noticed in the report — I did not really ask a question about this — is that there is overdue maintenance. I thought that was strange, because we’re only 10 years away. I assume you delivered it to zero at the time, so how can you have major overdue maintenance again?
State Secretary Knops:
This is partly to do with the way in which funding takes place. In part, this goes through the ministries and is occasionally added. That has happened in recent years. Moreover, on the basis of this coalition agreement in the field of infrastructure, 5 million has been structurally added to the provision for the BES. But for Bonaire, for example, there was money, but those resources were not used. So the public body had set aside money for infrastructure projects, but they never came to a conclusion, or the maintenance was never done. Then you have a problem, too. So it’s not always just a matter of money. It is often a bit more complicated, but I have just said in the first part of the answer that I see that it is very difficult financially when it comes to the question: can the BES Islands do what they have to do on the basis of the task? Often the Envelop region or other incidental facilities need to be added. This is not entirely in line with rational management and maintenance.
The Chairman:
Mr. Raven, third.
Mr Raven (OSF):
With regard to that baseline measurement: was a baseline measurement done at the time? That was not in the report, but I assume that it has been transferred one-on-one, with finances arranged for overdue maintenance.
The Chairman:
Finally, the Secretary of State.
State Secretary Knops:
Normally that would be the case, but I have to come back in the second term to the question of whether and how that was calculated in 2010, in the case of state reforms. Perhaps a calculation has been made — and I honestly do not know this — and this has subsequently proved too little. That’s possible. I’ll come back to that in the second term.
Then a few questions were asked about St Eustatius, by Mr Van der Burg, Mr Schalk and Mr Raven. Mr Schalk said that I mentioned the three strikes at the time. I need to get him: stabilize, normalize and democratize. He asked me if I could look back on that: how did that work? We intervened at the time, of course, because there really was a reason to do so, such as years of ignoring legislation that applied to public bodies and arbitrariness. Think also of the public finances. Not that there were shortages, but the state of the infrastructure of the roads was lousy. There were problems with waste disposal. There were problems everywhere, including in the official organization. Of course, this is partly to do with small scale, but on the other hand Saba shows how it can be done. So it’s not just small-scale. But there was reason to intervene.
Then we said: we must return to a normal situation after we have intervened. This cannot continue indefinitely. We want to show that perspective on democracy again. This led to the Restoration of Provisions Act, which was adopted on 8 July 2020. Based on this, elections were organized in October 2020, during corona time. In hindsight, you might say, that was a test of how to organize elections in corona time. Those elections have led to the installation of a new island council. And indeed, Mr Rosenmöller is right, the same members who were on the council at the time are now back in it, but that is democracy. That was really the will of the people on St Eustatius, but I tasted a slightly different undertone with Mr Rosenmöller. On the basis of the Özütok motion, a table is currently being created to look at what intermediate results we can move towards next phases, the following milestones. In the progress report that will be sent to your Chamber in May, we will discuss this in more detail and reflect the latest state of affairs.
Then there is mr van Rij’s departure. Mr Van Rij has asked me to dismiss him because of the appeal that has been made against him from a different direction. At the time, we chose the figure of a government commissioner and a deputy government commissioner. This means that someone can be replaced in case of illness or “being off island”. That’s what’s going on now, of course. Ms. Alida Fancis, the deputy government commissioner, will take over the duties of Van Rij. We’re going to see how we can fill the vacancy. We’re trying to do that in the short term, but this is all fresh from the press, so I don’t have a new candidate for that yet.

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