A New Year’s Message
Dear Statian Residents,
Another year is over…. and what an interesting one it has been! As an island and Public Entity we have faced a number of challenges, the main one the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has exposed several vulnerabilities of our small community.
While we worked with relevant stakeholders to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus a series of additional crisis presented themselves; the virtual halt of tourism arrivals, the burning down of the Tourism Office and the shortage of drinking water to mention a few.
Despite the many challenges as an island (government and private sector) we have had a number of successes that allowed us to achieve important milestones;
- The Central Dialogue St. Eustatius, in which representatives of employers and employees are represented, was established.
- The reorganization of the civil service continued with key functions filled with the ambition to build a robust organization to effectively and efficiently serve Statian residents.
- The General Audit Chamber was established and has the task to ensure there are checks and balances
- The Felicia, Viola van Zanten Assisted Living Complex was completed and inaugurated. The contract for phase two to construct an additional 10 units was signed this past week and construction starts early in the new year.
- The Public Entity signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UNICEF The Netherlands to raise awareness and advance children’s rights on St. Eustatius.
- The SDA Lynch Plantation school is the last of 4 primary schools to be completed. Plans to construct a new Gwendoline van Putten School will take effect in 2021.
- A Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) was signed between the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports, St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF) and the Public Entity St. Eustatius to draw up a plan for improvement in health care on our island.
- The Ministry of Public Health has provided a Hospitainer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Public Entity we have made additional investments to set up the Hospitainer which is managed by the SEHCF.
- In close collaboration with the Health Insurance Office (ZVK) and SEHCF we were fairly successful in managing referrals abroad for acute medical emergencies in a safe bubble. This continues in 2021.
- The Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) and Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) have already rolled out to Emergency Packages to assist businesses in these economically challenging times. A third package will be implemented in the first quarter of 2021.
- Construction of the new Franklin Delano passenger building and AFISO Towers continued uninterrupted and is scheduled to be inaugurated in April 2021.
- Two pilots are ongoing as part of an agreement with Woonlinie, Dutch housing cooperation, to renovate existing and construct new social housing on St. Eustatius. Negotiations continue in 2021.
- Construction of the Cherry Tree and Jeems Road projects continue and are taking shape. Construction of new roads will commence in the first quarter of 2021 guaranteeing employment for local contractors and workers in the construction sector.
- The harbour revetment was completed and plans to pave the container area will be implemented in 2021.
- An MOU was signed between Golden Rock Resort, Island Essence and the Public Entity that paves the way for 26 Statians to be trained in hospitality with the guarantee of employment upon successful completion of the training
- The Smoke Alley Hairpin Curb was contracted and is now completed.
- The Fort Oranje Cliff Stabilization Project has completed and St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) has replanted the cliff as part of its ongoing reforestation efforts.
- An MOU was signed between the KPN, EUTEL N.V. and the Public Entity for investment in telecommunication that will result in reduced internet rates during the 1st quarter of 2021.
- Statia Utilities Company (STUCO) has constructed a brand new water plant, new water-tank and installed new pipeline that are already in use as direct response to the water crisis situation. We have a new water plant, new pipelines and a new water-tank, which can withstand a hurricane category 5.
- St. Eustatius was the first within the Dutch Kingdom to hold elections during the pandemic. A new Island Council has been installed and the Executive Council is working to ensure that the elected representatives have proper accommodations and support staff to carry out their task in accordance with the criteria to ensure the gradual return of democracy.
- The website of the Public Entity has been refurbished as it is the most important tool used to communicate the policies and decision making of government. The community is encouraged to make ample use of this site www.statiagovernment.com
- An MOU was signed between the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the Public Entity that secures funding for the coming 4 years to promote awareness and the fight against domestic violence and child abuse.
- Effective January 1st the ban on single use plastics takes effect and will take on a phased approach.
- The Loose Roaming Animal Project has started and will continue in close cooperation with animal owners, farmers and the wider community that is most affected.
- The Legal Affairs Unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom relations has updated approximately 80% of all federal and local ordinances dating back to the period prior to St. Eustatius becoming a Public Entity.
- The St. Eustatius Emergency Operating Centre (SEOC) has been turned over by the contractor and the Public Entity in collaboration with RCN ICT will make the building ready for use.
- In 2020 the Public Entity registered an increase in the number of business licenses and building permits that were issued. This is a clear sign of confidence in the local economy. These are all very positive developments.
As Government Commissioners from the beginning the vision has been to involve stakeholders in the decision-making process. Key stakeholders include the Crisis Team (EBT), all the Ministries in the European part of the Netherlands with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations in the coordinating role, European Union, the Island Council, Rijksdienst Caribisch Netherland (RCN), Kingdom Representative, Public Entities Saba and Bonaire, the Social Advisory Committee, STUCO, EUTEL, schoolboards, St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation, STENAPA, Central Dialogue St. Eustatius, Statia Waste Solutions, the maritime sector (GTI), St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation, St. Eustatius Center for Archeological Research (SECAR), Woonlinie, Statia Housing Foundation, farmers and fishermen, clergy, the press and the civil service on all levels. In this way they had input and the Public Entity did not impose measures. In addition, frequent communication has been initiated to inform residents as much and as often as possible, in a timely and proactive manner. The consultation model and the fixed communication structure ensures broad acceptance and support.
Looking to 2021
Although we have done well, considering the circumstances and the different crises we have been through, we have learnt some valuable lessons. One valuable lesson is that dialogue and inclusion are very powerful tools to be able to guide us all through the different crises.
There is always room for improvement. We can all work on doing something just a little better. When everyone does that, the results can be amazing…and our focus will be on even further improving dialogue and inclusion.
During the new year 2021 as Public Entity we will focus on building a robust organization, developing the individual and collective skills of civil servants, improving internal processes, improving service to the Statian community, working towards the further implementation of the 12 criteria and improving strategic thinking. This means we should push the bounds of ambition and possibilities of what we aspire to achieve for Statia and Statian residents. It is our duty as a public service to do this instead of settling for what is convenient, safe and easily attainable goals. Otherwise, we will not be offering Statian residents outcomes that are aspirational, bold and stretched targets.
The Public Entity extends warm wishes for a bright and prosperous 2021!
Marnix van Rij,
Deputy Government Commissioner