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Willemstad
• woensdag 12 juni 2024

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CC | The future of the Caribbean Parts of the Kingdom uncertain under new coalition

HomeLandenArubaCC | The future of the Caribbean Parts of the Kingdom uncertain...

THE HAGUE- The future of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom remains uncertain as the new coalition of PVV, NSC, VVD, and BBB prepares to take office.

An analysis by civil servants of the coalition’s ‘main outline agreement’ indicates that it is unclear whether the incoming cabinet will uphold the commitments made by the current government.

The main outline agreement does not specify any policy changes regarding the Netherlands’ relationship with the autonomous countries within the Kingdom (Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten) or the national policy concerning the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba). Furthermore, the agreement notably omits any mention of the apologies for the slavery past.

However, some assurances remain. Funds allocated until 2027 for reform projects in the Caribbean countries are still secured, and recent increases for the Caribbean Netherlands, such as structural measures for livelihood security and additions to the BES fund in the Spring Memorandum, also remain intact. This continuity will enable the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) to proceed with the implementation of current policies. Given the additional tasks and resources assigned to the Directorate of Kingdom Relations (DGKR) in recent years, a proposed 22% task reduction is considered unfeasible.

The previous coalition agreement under Rutte IV had included the opening of various funds for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. This included €100 million twice for the Caribbean countries and €30 million for the Caribbean Netherlands from the National Growth Fund. However, with the “phasing out” of the NGF, the retention of these funds, which were considered administratively obligated, is now uncertain. While the first €100 million for the countries and €30 million for the Caribbean Netherlands are expected to remain, the fate of the second €100 million tranche is unclear.

Additionally, the impact of the main outline agreement on funds from the Sustainable Energy Production Incentive Scheme (SDE++) and the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (BMKB) for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom is still unknown. SDE++ funds will see a reduction of €1 billion annually starting in 2026.

As the coordinating department for the Caribbean Netherlands, it is crucial for BZK to ensure that responsible departments include the Caribbean Netherlands in measures from the main outline agreement. This includes the regional approach, climate adaptation efforts, infrastructure and accessibility improvements, child poverty initiatives, and livelihood security enhancements. All policy intensifications and the resulting legislation or financial consequences will apply to the Caribbean Netherlands under the principle of comply or explain.

Another key focus in administrative relations with the Caribbean Netherlands is the development of a regionalization of the electoral system.

Despite the limited substantive agenda for Kingdom Relations, the development of the government program offers an opportunity to continue working on a multi-year agenda for the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. However, there are process-related risks. The effectiveness of the government program will depend on the nature of the program, the time allocated for its preparation, and the expertise and focus of the minister responsible for Kingdom Relations. If a detailed program needs to be made quickly and the minister lacks background on the subject, it will be challenging to develop a well-informed and effective government program.

Aligning the ambitions of the departments for the Caribbean Netherlands with feasibility and practicability remains a key priority for DGKR. Effective interdepartmental coordination is essential to ensure the success of the program for the Caribbean Netherlands.

Bron: Curacao Chronicle

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