Island Council Bonaire grabs almost half a million with controversial decision – StMaartenNews.com – News Views Reviews & Interviews

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KRALENDIJK — The Island Council of Bonaire approved on October 3 a dramatic increase of $480,000 for its five factions but not everybody is happy with the 255 percent increase.

State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen was “amazed” when she heard about it and Hennyson Thielman, the party-leader of Movementu di Pueblo Boneriano (MPB) told a reporter of the website Bonaire.nu that he disapproves of the measure though his faction voted in favor. “There are significant differences between the first proposals and the regulation that has been approved,” he said. “We want to discuss this again, because something went wrong.”

Dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl brought the matter to Van Huffelen’s attention with an article that describes how members of the Island Council apparently were misled. “It seems that Island Council members did not know that the most crucial parts of the ordinance were changed compared to the draft they debated on September 15.”

Related article: Island Council Bonaire misled (article in Dutch) >>>

The article notes that interim registrar Arjen de Wolf failed to present an amendment to the council and that he also did not inform its members of the changes. It remains unclear on whose orders De wolf changed the text of the ordinance.

Currently, the Bonairean Island Council consists of nine members. PDB, M21 and the Faction Vrolijk – with 3, 1 and 1 seats respectively – control the Executive Council. UPB (3 seats) and MPB (1 seat) are in the opposition.

PDB-leader Clark Abraham and M21’s Daisy Coffie defend the increase, but Thielman and MPB’s Council member Humphrey Wout said in a radio interview that they want to void the decision.  Thielman is a former commissioner for Economic Development, Tourism and Finance.

Wout suggested that Island Council-members were misled. “It seems that Island Council members did not know that the ordinance was changed.”

State secretary van Huffelen wants Bonaire to annul the increase and her ministry is researching how the decision came about. She notes that between 30 to 40 percent of Bonaireans are living in poverty. “It would have been better if the political discussion that has resulted in taking this decision had taken place publicly.”

Instead, the hefty increase was hidden in a rather technical ordinance that was approved by the Island Council without discussion. Van Huffelen does not plan to back off because she put the issue on the agenda for a consultation with the Island Council and the Executive Council about the renewal of the WolBES and the FinBes towards the end of this month.

The WolBES contains the rules that govern the Dutch public entities Bonaire, Saba and Statia. The FinBES regulates the finances of the three islands.

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Photo caption: Bonaire’s island council building. Photo taken from DossierKoninkrijksrelaties.nl