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Public Entity Saba has a Successful Working Visit to the Netherlands

During the second half of February 2024, a small delegation from Saba visited The Hague, engaging with several ministries and organizations about the most relevant issues impacting Saba. Joining Commissioner Bruce Zagers on this visit was Island Secretary Bram Streppel, Head of Policy and Project Bureau Nicole Johnson, Airport Manager Maegan Hassell and Policy Advisor Courtney Hassell.

There was a series of meetings held with the Ministry of the Interior (BZK), where issues such as the free allowance and the most recent Ideeversa report were discussed. The Ideeversa study was commissioned by BZK with the aim of providing an analysis of what level of free allowance is necessary for the Public Entities to properly carry out their legal obligations. Other discussions with BZK included the Saba Package, banking, public transportation, connectivity and funding opportunities for projects.

The delegation also had extensive discussions with the Ministry of Economic affairs and Climate and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Some of these discussions focused on the planned quick scan into specific cost drivers of the importation of goods and services which are impacting the high cost of living. The study will provide recommendations for steps that can be taken to combat these costs. Other discussions focused on establishing an economic development plan, the renewable energy project, the subsidy for electricity, Telecom, and the lack of shipping regulations.

Meetings were held with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, as well as the Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport (ILT). These meetings focused on the permitting restrictions relating to landing on Runway 30, the results of the ILT audit report and funding opportunities for airport renovations and training programs.

At the Ministry of Finance, discussions were held about the draft tax plan for 2025, the complex asycuda customs system and the overall functioning of customs, where specific examples were given to illustrate that it often does not go well. Other meetings during the visit focused on more general issues such as resident and work permits, border control processes, the upcoming review of the waste facility, the results of the wastewater study conducted on Saba, permitting and enforcement, the climate agenda and the next steps for the Black Rocks Harbor project. Political meetings with second chamber members who are members of the Kingdom Relations Committee were also held.

Overall Commissioner Zagers is satisfied with the results on the visit. Steps were taken in various key areas, with concrete follow-up actions concluded upon. “While these missions to the Netherlands help to accelerate progress with the different projects and discussions, they also play a vital role in strengthening relationships with the ministries in The Hague. Each visit not only propels our objectives forward but also provides the opportunity for further collaboration and a better understanding between our entities. This lays the foundation for a more sustainable partnership and shared success."

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