Dutch Minister Liesbeth Spies to Cut Expensive Civil Service Trips to the Caribbean

Dutch civil servants make so many official visits to the Netherlands’ former Caribbean colonies that home affairs minister Liesbeth Spies is calling for a sharp reduction.

According to research by RTL news, home affairs and justice ministry officials made 660 trips to the Antillean islands between 2009 and 2012, at a cost of €2m. In fact, so many visits have been made that local officials on Saba, with a population of 1,800, have complained of being swamped.

New status

The visits mainly relate to the change in status of the islands that came into effect in 2010. Saba and Bonaire, which received most visits, are now considered to be Dutch local authorities, which required a large amount of rule-changing, RTL said. RTL news asked the two ministries to provide official records of the trips but these often ‘could not be found or were never written’. This makes it difficult to determine the purpose of the trip, the broadcaster says.

The Labour party has now called on the national audit office to investigate the reasoning behind the visits. And the Socialists say other ministries should also come clean on how many civil servants they have sent to the islands. One trip highlighted by RTL news was a visit to Saba by the Media Commission to talk about freedom of speech on television. Local council official Chris Johnson told the broadcaster: ‘We don’t have any television broadcasters. That meeting took five minutes.’

For original article, see http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/08/minister_pledges_to_cut_civil.php

For photo (of Saba Island) and more information, see http://obitpatrol.blogspot.com/2010/10/one-country-dies-two-are-born.html

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