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Editorial - Hanging in the balance

The motion of no-confidence against Island Governor Gerald Berkel passed by the Island Council (see related story) is not going to solve Statia’s current problems. For starters, it regards an appointee of the crown as proposed by the Kingdom Government and while the wishes of the public entity surely must be taken into account, the local Island Council simply isn’t authorised to send Berkel home.

The motion requests Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs Ronald Plasterk to invoke articles 73 and 74 of the Law Public Entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES) to revoke Berkel’s appointment. However, whether the Dutch minister will comply very much remains to be seen.

In fact, when a similar motion was passed against then-Lt. Governor Eugene Abdul he still stayed on until the end of his term. Berkel himself now has pointed out that he took an oath to serve not the Island Council, but the community.

The move does send a message, of course, but more than anything else it’s one of lack of cohesion within the Executive Council. That’s regrettable, because Statia faces a financial instruction it cannot get out from under even by blaming Berkel for its troubles as the PLP/UPC coalition is now seemingly doing.

Moreover, a serious rift has developed between the local political parties in power and the Netherlands. The latter is even boycotting the territory in terms of visits by public administrators as reported in Tuesday’s edition, a decision questioned by a D-66 parliamentarian in The Hague.

But it’s no secret either that national representative Gilbert Isabella in charge of the financial supervision did not exactly receive full cooperation from the entire local government so far. In fact, commissioners stayed away from meetings with him on several occasions.

All this isn’t exactly helping the situation. The island can neither incur new expenses nor hire personnel, only adding to the frustration among voters and their leaders.

There clearly appears to be an impasse in which both sides refuse to budge and things are not getting done as they should. Unless some sort of breakthrough can be made soon, Statia and its people are at risk of being left hanging in the balance.

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