Can you imagine, the USA has budgetary problems, Holland and the European Union has budgetary problems. Only China and Saba have positive balances on their budgets. Both places have two thirds of their population employed by government yet the private sector is blooming. So much so that people can come from all over the world and make a living here. On her last visit to Saba, then Her Majesty Queen Beatrix at the lunch asked me what were the biggest changes I had seen on Saba in the last years. I told her “Your Majesty, I will give you one example. We have a taxi driver from Ireland who speaks fluent Dutch and looks like his family is from the “Promised Land”. Perhaps not the answer she was expecting but she did see the humor in it. If you would see the unwarranted, unjustified and jealousy driven comments on Facebook about Saba and its government you would think that everything here is a disaster and the Commissioners do not even know what it is all about. One of the Island council members whose first and last honest days work was when he made mud pies as a baby, has the gall to question other members of the Island Council about community work they are doing while his own record is a dismal one which will be dealt with as time goes along. People with business interests here on Saba who will be the first losers in the event of a change in government seem anxious to support any unwarranted criticism of our government. I am at a loss when I hear about statements certain people have made or read unwarranted criticism they levy against government, in some cases even against their own family. I went on Facebook because a number of friends on St.Maarten asked me if there was any intelligent life left on Saba as what they were reading did not reflect the Saba people and their history which I have been promoting throughout my political career. Therefore I went on Facebook to try and bring balance to the information going abroad. I started The Saba Islander which I will use to defend my party the WIPM party which has brought Saba to the level of prosperity that people living here from all parts of the world can also enjoy. I appeal to our people to try and not bring another hurricane or other natural disasters on us by all the unfair statements being sent out to the world. Reflect before you write untruths about our local government or else the dogs will eat your supper. This is the first time in Saba’s history that we have three College educated Members of the Executive Council. I recently had a breakfast meet with the CFT (The Dutch instituted Committee on Financial Supervision). They had nothing but praise for the job the Saba Government is doing, supported by the WIPM members of the Island Council. Everyone is working in the interest of the Island. The members of the Island Council are paid only a pittance for their services so they must do other things in order to survive. The Dutch took away most of the autonomy we had enjoyed with their unfair electoral laws and other laws. These laws have destabilized the Dutch West Indies. Even those with so called “country” status have had so many changes of government that people have stopped counting and only fear that it will get worse. The islands also made history in that the first paid political killing since the death of William of Orange, which took place recently on Curacao. The legal system which falls under the Dutch is not functioning as it should. High profile public cases in which politicians were involved seem to have died a natural death. Holland’s only interest is that the islands should not cost them any more money. The so-called “countries” within the Kingdom have some autonomy but they are not independent. They have to try and solve their own internal problems. The three direct colonies Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are being dealt with as if they were a part of The Netherlands, while at the same time denying us the benefits the European part of the Kingdom get. Someone told me the other day “better we had voted to join France as they give the same benefits to their people, whether they live in Marseille or on St. Martin”. It is true that Saba gets budgetary support. However the ones most affected are the people on Old Age pension many of whom are below the poverty level. Even the churches are under attack. Holland’s keystone of foreign affairs is to support homosexuality and that is for their account, but at the same time they are allowing a substantial number of old people in their colonies to suffer unnecessary hardships.
Government Administration Building
These items I am pointing out now will be dealt with one by one as time permits. Also for those from Saba who left our shores and went to seek fortune and fame in other places. The WIPM policy has always been, that you have to pay your passage if you want a post in government. In other words you must be a candidate on the list. It is irritating to those who paid their passage, paid their taxes and remained here with the people through good times and bad times, to read comments from those people who left us behind,on how the island should be run. There might be one or two exceptions of people who though living abroad still invest on Saba and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but when and where I see unwarranted criticism of our government and by extension those living here paying their taxes and so on, I will respond. There is enough room for criticism in the countries where you live. Saba does not play any role on the world stage and even with our neighbours to warrant the time of those who left us to be occupied with the affairs of our island. In the olden days when large schooners were built here on Saba the owners when registering them would sign a declaration that the schooner was not on “a war footing”. In other words that they did not carry any cannons on board. A throwback to the days of piracy. The Saba Islander has not been put on a war footing as yet, but that will come.
For now I will suffice with quoting an article from The Daily Herald of Saturday, June 22, 2013.
YEAR REPORT 2012 MARKS PROGRESS IN ACCOUNTABILITY
Positive balance of US$58.000.–
SABA– Commissioner Bruce Zagers presented the audit on the Year Report 2012 and plans for public acquisition of land for a parking lot in Windwardside during Friday’s public Central Committee meeting.
The Commissioner told the committee that the Year Report 2012 had met all deadlines set by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom relations and Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, and is to be submitted before July 15, pending approval in next week’s Island Council meeting.
The result is a positive balance of some US $58.000, a surplus that is proposed to go into the general reserve, increasing it to approximately $2.9 million, based on appreciation of various investments.
Zagers recalled that last year, during the indexation for 2012, the Island Council decided to have $435,000 made available as a buffer reserve, which has been implemented and is available for contingencies.
Zagers highlighted the impact of the good working relationship with the national government, pointing out that only 6.22 per cent of the island budget comes as local revenue, with the vast majority coming from The Netherlands.
The total revenue collected locally was $627,000 out of the $8 million budget. (Health Care and Education are financed by the Dutch Government as well).
The audit carried out by Ernst and Young had found NO FRAULENT ACTIVITY, Zagers said. The auditor mentioned ” a true and fair view on the financial statements,” a first for Saba, stated the Commissioner “probably the first on any of the Dutch islands.”
In 2011, the audit had mentioned 15 areas of concern, two of which were cleared in 2012, with one new concern area registered recently regarding improvement in the closing of monthly accounts. Four of these areas now received a lower risk assessment, it was said.
Congratulating the Commissioner on building up the reserve Carl Buncamper of Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM) asked about the basis for the newly-flagged area and the setting up of norms for the reserve.
Zagers explained that the Finance Department experienced internal instability with the department’s head. He believes with the new Head of Finance, this concern will disappear.
A proposal on the use of the reserve is to be submitted to the Island Council, based on consultations with the auditor.,
Regarding the acquisition of land for parking in Windwardside, the Island Government obtained four appraisals on the property from independent consultants, leading to an estimated cost of $320,650.–
Central Committee Chairman Rolando Wilson (WIPM) stressed support for the investment, based on the assessed public need and Zagers bolstered the argument in favour of the purchase, stating it would enhance accessibility for emergency-response vehicles and be a potential site for public cisterns, while keeping some of the greenery.
The proposal will need to be approved by CFT, said Zagers, adding that the owner showed flexibility in price and in payment options, with a second tranche payable in 2014.
Approval of purchase will be submitted to the Island Council, with the prospective construction beginning next year.
Buncamper used the opportunity to inquire into the purchase, based on means coming available through the sale of the former Captain’s Quarters property.
Zagers informed that various purchase options are available with appraisals being reviewed by CFT, and said there are two interested buyers in Captain’s Quarters.