SMCC: Stop calling COHO “Caribbean”: it is a Dutch Colonial Reform Development Organ”
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SMCC: Stop calling COHO “Caribbean”: it is a Dutch Colonial Reform Development Organ”

Raymond Knops, Dutch State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, Dutch State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) said in a press statement over the weekend that the Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops proposed as one of the conditions for the third tranche of liquidity support, draft legislation to institute what was called the “Caraibische Hervormings Entiteit” (the Caribbean Reform Entity). This name was after some criticism from Curacao and Aruba changed in “Caraibische Hervormings en Ontwikkelings Orgaan” (the Caribbean Reform and Development Organ).

The SMCC statement continues on to say: “The Kingdom government in its meeting of July and of August approved this draft legislation. The entity will consist of three wise Dutch persons seated in The Hague and responsible to the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

“Sint Maarten government did not ask for a name change, but to give the three Caribbean countries Curacao, Aurba and St Maarten a larger role in the entity by appointing members to a supervisory body in the entity.

“Mr Knops after the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting of August 14 last year wrote to the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament, why he is not in favour of the St. Maarten counterproposal to give Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten a larger role and say in the Caribbean Reform Entity by appointing members to a supervisory body. Mr Knops gave the following arguments:

  • The Caribbean Reform Entity, once secured in a Kingdom Consensus Law, will specifically be designed as an independent Dutch administrative body (“zelfstandig bestuursorgaan”) with its own corporate rights. “For this reason, it is not a given to involve Caribbean entities in the supervision thereof.” In other words, the Dutch do not want Caribbean supervisors to see or hear what they are doing!
  • The Caribbean Reform Entity will be the body that will oversee the large reform exercise in the three countries. The Dutch government does not find it “opportune” to give a formal role to the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the supervision of the entity! In other words, the highest supervisory bodies in the countries cannot have supervision of what is being executed in the country!
  • “The entity’s organisation is being paid for through Dutch taxpayers’ money. Also, the financial and other means that the entity will provide in executing its tasks will be entirely paid for, at least at first, by the people in the Netherlands. That is why the entity is designed as an independent administrative body,” stated Knops. In other words, “wie betaald bepaald” But are not we the consumers in these countries the ones that have to pay back these loans?
  • He added that, considering this choice, it was understandable that the members of the entity would be appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. In other words, the Dutch Minister of Home Affairs will appoint Dutch European and no Dutch Caribbean members!
  • The democratic control of the functioning of the Caribbean Reform Entity will primarily run via this same minister. This is not democratic, this is autocratic. Since when the Dutch minister of Kingdom relations rules by taking account of the other country’s wishes or opinions? 
  • It is important to note that the entity will “not take over authority” of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten” in the areas of legislation and regulation, “The entity will not take over legislative and [regulatory – Ed.] authorities of the governments and Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten”. But it will have “a supportive function” it does provide support in the execution thereof and “act in a supervisory role”. What did mr Knops mean with “supervisory role”? The entity can “set consequences if countries do not or insufficiently comply with the obligations that they have based on this proposal” Bottom line is in other words, “who” supervises “who”?
  • The entity will have four main tasks: support and supervision of the developing and executing of projects and measures by government bodies and government companies; initiating and promoting projects of the country packages; granting subsidy to citizens and companies; and, if there is a need, instituting financial supervision on the countries’ expenditures.
  • Knops explained that the law proposal to establish the Caribbean Reform Entity aimed to accomplish “cooperation” between the Netherlands and each of the Dutch Caribbean countries without the constitutional autonomy of these countries being crossed in a fundamental sense. In other words, the countries have to cooperate with the Dutch entity to execute the reforms and the development that they want! That is not Caribbean, but continuation of colonialism!
  • About who will be appointed to the Caribbean Reform Entity and the selection criteria of its members, Knops stated that this will only come into play when the Kingdom Consensus Law is implemented. The members will need to have broad experience. What mr Knops meant with this, we could see after his sneeky visit to St Maarten a few days ago! The delegation left to “dictate” the ST Maarten counterparts the plan of action agenda. If our Caribbean officials do not agree than there will come as consequence: no money!
  • The independent position of the entity and the institutional distance from the Dutch government are expected to contribute to creating public support for the entity and its work among residents, government bodies and companies. This is a smoke screen! In the Netherlands that might be a selling argument. But here the reality will be, that these Dutch persons selected will repeat their masters voice: “wie betaalt, bepaalt!”

“So why naming this organ “Caribbean” while it is a completely Dutch European entity: a colonial continuation of their supremacy!

“If the Prime Minister of our country does not believe what we say today, then we recommend the Prime Minister to ask the prime ministers of Barbados (Mia Motley) or from St Lucia (Ralph Goncalves) to review HOW CARIBBEAN the COHO and the country packages will be?”

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