Prime Minister Mercelina emphasizes involvement, communication inclusion and co-ownership in relations with the Netherlands

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L to R: Dutch State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen and Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina. 

 

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – During her working visit to Sint Maarten on Friday, May 31, 2024, Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen had multiple meetings with first the Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina, then His Excellency the Governor Ajumu Baly, and lastly with the Council of Ministers (CoM). 

Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina personally welcomed the State Secretary Van Huffelen at the Princess Juliana International Airport, after which they traveled together to the location of their first meeting.

In an informal setting during the initial meeting, they engaged in open and frank discussions on Trust Fund projects and the reform packages. 

The meeting was also attended by support staff from the Department of the Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BAK), the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB), the Secretariat CoM, the office of the representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg (VNP), the Directorate Kingdom Relations, and the direct support staff of the State Secretary.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina emphasized the importance of structural involvement and communication from all parties and entities of both the Dutch and Sint Maarten governments, highlighting inclusion and co-ownership. 

Dutch State Secretary Van Huffelen acknowledged the existing positive partnership and the importance of having a clear long-term vision with clearly established targets.

Slavery was another topic of discussion, with the Prime Minister reiterating the proposal to rename the national slavery museum into a Kingdom Museum to reflect the shared slavery history of all countries within the Kingdom. 

Both parties discussed the idea of establishing satellite museums throughout the Kingdom to create uniformity in the conscientization of slavery.

Discussions also covered the return of Sint Maarten’s students, the landfill, and on ensuring sufficient, sustainable, and climate-friendly energy while looking at alternative energy sources, such as wind farms, solar, or a combination, while considering Sint Maarten’s location in the hurricane belt.

During the meeting with CoM, Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina opened the meeting with heartfelt words of thanks, expressing the great empathy the State Secretary has displayed to the people of Sint Maarten in overcoming the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, September 2017. 

He thanked the State Secretary for her support, stating that the people of Sint Maarten will forever be thankful for her contributions.

In a gesture of appreciation, the State Secretary was presented with the recently launched autobiography of Ruby Bute, whom she met on several occasions during her tenure, and a colorful clutch designed by local artist Jolie Duzon, reflecting the State Secretary’s vibrant manner in working with the different countries and her colorful personal style.

The CoM meeting further included the Minister of Finance, Marinka Gumbs, the Minister of Justice, Lyndon Lewis, and the Minister of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor, Veronica Jansen-Webster, and Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary, Drs. Gracita Arrindell.

Discussions continued on tax reform, general health insurance, and the prison. Although the State Secretary will soon be leaving her position due to the swearing in of the new Dutch Government, support from the Directorate of Kingdom Relations, the office of the Representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg (VNP), and the Temporary Work Organization (TWO) has been pledged to continue to Sint Maarten by the State Secretary.

During the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Washington, DC, for the Steering Committee meeting on the Trust Fund projects, emphasis will be placed on ensuring that the remaining funds are applied effectively to complete ongoing projects. 

The State Secretary supports the Prime Minister’s efforts to prolong the time to achieve the required results and prevent the closure of trust funds while projects are still in progress. The current government of Sint Maarten remains committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for the people of Sint Maarten.