The process to bring the three land registries in the Caribbean Netherlands under the responsibility of Kadaster Nederland (Netherlands’ Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency) started as early as 2010. The main considerations were:
- Kadaster Nederland contributes to the improvement of the public registers and the land registries in the Caribbean Netherlands.
- The continuity and quality of the duties can be ensured best under the management of a larger organisation.
- Improvement of legal certainty.
The Kadaster's role
Kadaster Nederland is removed from politics. Kadaster's core duties are registration and providing information. Performance of these duties facilitates the transfer of immovable property, boosts the real property market and contributes to transparency. Kadaster is not responsible for the distribution of land and operates independently of land use planning policy; it only registers the state of affairs concerning immovable property.
Bonaire Land Registry
It is not that the Land Registry in Bonaire functions poorly or that agreements have not been fulfilled. So incorporation into Kadaster Nederland certainly is not a no-confidence motion against the Bonaire Land Registry. However, work still needs to be done where digitisation and quality are concerned. There simply are much more opportunities to realise this within a larger organisation through economies of scale. Technology and IT developments, for instance, progress rapidly and are expensive. The incorporation into Kadaster Nederland enables further digitisation. Digitisation makes the legal status of real property more transparent, which promotes the purchase and financing of real property, and improves the service provision. Users in Bonaire - owners, notaries public, estate agents, banks, project developers - benefit from this.
Kadaster Nederland performs its duties in a policy-neutral fashion, so the loss of autonomy is limited. Furthermore, the Executive Council can represent Bonaire's interests through the targeted legal consultation process. Kadaster Nederland must consider the Executive Council's views on fees for instance in its proposals presented to the Minister for the Environment and Housing, and it should also specify how these views have been integrated. When approving proposals the Minister for the Environment and Housing will therefore also take much account of the interests of the islands.
The delay in the bill is due to the fact that a considerable amount of attention has been paid to careful coordination with the Caribbean Netherlands and to the objective to do justice to the specific circumstances in the islands. Kadaster Nederland has organised different workshops since 2012 for and on the islands and in the European Netherlands itself to properly manage the changes. Many parties involved such as employees of the land registries, employees of the island government and commissioners have attended these workshops. The consultation of Executive Councils about the bill also took some time. Complicating factors in this process were changes in management and changing views of the Executive Councils. Previous Executive Councils were advocates of the BES Land Registry Act (Kadasterwet BES). In 2012 for instance a covenant was signed by the former Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Kadaster Nederland and the then Executive Council to realise the transfer of responsibilities. However, the present Executive Council conveyed in November 2019 that it retains the views of the former Executive Council, and thus is not an advocate of this act and wishes to maintain the Bonaire Land Registry as an independent Public Entity body.
The present employees will in principle be in the employment of Kadaster Nederland.
Help from Kadaster Nederland
In anticipation of the transfer, Kadaster Nederland already offered help over the past few years in making important improvements such as the digitisation of archives and the realisation of adequate office and archive space. In addition, Kadaster Nederland took work off the Bonaire Land Registry's hands by deploying employees to improve quality (including scanning deeds), the relationship with RCN, to develop the KadorWeb system, contacts with the Belastingdienst and to organise working conferences.
Expectations are that fees will decrease over time. The fees in the European Netherlands generally are lower than the fees in Bonaire. In many cases even much lower. This applies to the most common transactions like the registration of a mortgage deed, something which many people have to deal with. The new fees will not become effective immediately at the entry into force of the act but will be implemented over time in view of the consultation process with the Executive Council. The Executive Council can influence the level of the fees via the consultation process.