Statia, nepotism and lack of transparency

By Koos Sneek

Date: February 25 2014

The signals are there that the coalition on Statia, consisting of the UPC party and independent council members Lijfrock and Merkman is sailing in rough water. While there are so many urgent pending matters to deal with, the activities that are coming to light lately mostly seem to have to do with private matters such as bonuses to political cronies, salary advances to elected officials, extensive travel patterns of commissioner Tearr surrounded by a lack of transparency and securing of positions within government of political appointees after the elections to be held in March 2015.


To continue, individuals are hired by government on a so-called aankoopbon as such avoiding the requirement in the WOLBES that the Kingdom Representative is to approve the appointments. Taxes are not withheld from the income of these individuals, while it is also unclear if these persons have a properly registered business, a business license, a registration at the tax department and are paying their taxes. Also at no time these jobs are advertised, allowing others to apply, or given out for public bids allowing Statia companies to bid on them. There can be nothing against persons getting jobs, including those who are having the jobs now, or companies getting contracts but government has to follow transparent and open procedures.


Rumors are that documents are forged by the executive assistant to one of the commissioners in her own benefit. The commissioner responsible for personnel affairs denies that the executive council has taken certain official decisions on personnel appointments or he is at least not aware of this. Executive council decisions are taken without the underlying documents such as the advice from the personnel department or the responsible director. How can this happen? A very big question mark needs to be placed by the role of the acting island secretary in all of this. This functionary is responsible for the preparation of all documents to be handled by the executive council. Why did she overlook this? Why did she not properly inform the executive council members? Or did she?


What is the role of the three council members, who are supporting this government? Are they aware of this wheeling and dealing and are they condoning it? A few coalition meetings are held and we learned that it did not go well. But one can imagine that they are in a jam. Do they have to get rid of a crony who falsifies documents, or reprimand an acting island secretary, who is a family member? Can they risk for the government to fall? What are the alternatives? The DP back in government? This of course needs to be avoided at all cost. Should they seek the support from Franklin, who has already expressed his desire to see Clyde return as commissioner? I doubt most of them see that as a good idea either. And whose head then has to role? Zaandam, Tearr or maybe both?


The meetings of the Central Committee are finally open for the public. It can be noticed that now the practice is being used to decide that some matters are discussed in this committee behind closed doors. Recently the agenda point on the IND was discussed behind closed doors. On Thursday February 27 the agenda point on the fiber optic cable will also be dealt with behind closed doors. No explanation as why these matters are so sensitive that they need to be dealt with behind closed doors. What is all this secrecy about? I can remember that I heard the commissioners mention, when they entered government, that transparency was to be their trademark. The case around the fiber optic cable has regularly been in the media, loads of questions are publicly asked in the second chamber and answers are given by the minister, yet our representatives apparently are of the opinion that it is in our own interest to prevent the public to hear what they are discussing about these topics. The subject with the IND was an informative meeting whereby representatives from this service were to answer questions from the members of the island council. Why was there a need for secrecy to decide to discuss this agenda point behind closed doors? What has happened with the professed transparency?


To be continued….