THE HAGUE—The Saba delegation that visited The Hague from Monday, October 2 to Tuesday, October 10 had several meetings in the area of the social domain that covered topics such as poverty eradication, school buildings, culture funding, the Social Support Act (WMO), Saba Reach, training and development, education, monuments and heritage.
Meetings took place at the Ministry of Social and Employment Affairs (SZW), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK), the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS), the Haagse Hogeschool (HHS), the Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek KB), the National Government Department for Culture and Heritage (RCE) and the Technical University (TU) Delft.
At the Ministry of SZW, the delegation discussed the establishing of the social minimum for the Caribbean Netherlands, the increase in the social benefits per January 1, 2024, the visit of caretaker Minister for Poverty policy, Participation and Pensions Carola Schouten, the continuation of the energy poverty allowance, employment opportunities and the strengthening of the Saba Reach Foundation.
The intention is to strengthen the poverty policy of the Public Entity Saba. Focal points of the poverty policy are: balance of life, employment opportunities, participation, an integral, more structural approach and tailor-made solutions.
The funding for the construction of a new gym for the schools, in collaboration with the Ministry of OCW as part of investments in the school environment, was discussed at the Ministry of VWS. The Ministry of VWS expressed commitment to continue the funding for afterschool activities and the domestic violence project. “Also, we had positive discussions about working towards a more structural solution for overhead capacity at the Community Development Department,” said Head of the Community Development Department Rosa Johnson-Hassell.
Public Entity Saba has been advocating to organize funding in such a way that there is one special grant per ministry instead of multiple special grants, which will reduce the additional burden for the local administration.
At the Ministry of OCW, the Saba delegation met on how to find mutual ways how to move forward with the new school buildings that comply with the BES building code. The Public Entity and the Ministry of OCW are working on a covenant for school housing which will soon be signed with the continued support for Sacred Heart School (SHS) phase 2 and the new technical school.
Other topics that were discussed at the Ministry of OCW included culture education and participation, and the new Culture Policy Plan of the Public Entity Saba were discussed. Funding is available through several culture funds, for which Saba was offered assistance to apply.
The Slavery Past Commemoration Year was discussed with the Ministry of OCW and the Ministry of BZK. Some members of the Saba delegation visited the KB Library. Archiving was discussed, as well as the new regulations for libraries and the continued support for Saba’s Queen Wilhelmina Library.
A range of topics was covered in a visit to the National Government Department for Culture and Heritage (RCE) in Utrecht: Saba’s Cultural Policy Plan, the island ordinance for monuments, support for the monuments list, maritime heritage and the archiving of local heritage collections.
During the discussion at the Haagse Hogeschool (HHS), the delegation delved into the training and development requirements for the Finance Department of the Public Entity Saba, highlighting that this initiative is a joint project led HHS and the Ministry of BZK.
The meeting at the HHS not only explored possibilities for enhancing the Finance Department's capabilities but also shed light on the potential to provide additional training opportunities for various other departments, encompassing areas such as project management, budget management, and grant proposal writing.
At the TU Delft, the delegation met with architecture students who will be coming to Saba in November this year for 8 weeks to do research for their minor Frugal Innovation on how Saba can become more sustainable using local materials.
The delegation consisted of Commissioner Bruce Zagers, Head of the Finance Department Maureen Hassell-Van der Kaap, Head of the Community Development Department Rosa Johnson-Hassell and Senior Policy Advisor Nicole Johnson.