Saba Package Agreement 2023-2027 finalized
In their ambition to ensure that the inhabitants of Saba notice a positive change in their lives, State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen and Commissioner Bruce Zagers signed the new Saba Package Agreement for the years 2023-2027. This agreement contains the priorities, goals, and results jointly formulated and pursued by both parties.
Agreements have been reached on four focal points: (1) the development of community welfare and well-being; (2) economic and spatial development; (3) climate, nature and sustainability and (4) good governance. Together parties committed themselves to a ‘hands-on mentality’ in solving problems and bottlenecks standing in the way of the realization of these goals.
The Saba package emphasizes good governance and the implementation power and organizational capacity of the Public Entity Saba (PES). This is necessary to ensure that the Public Entity Saba becomes a robust and durable government apparatus, capable of delivering services to all its citizens and complying with its statutory tasks. The ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations has made extra funding available for capacity of the PES and therefore the execution and implementation power of Saba.
Development of community welfare and well-being
Achieving an improved quality of life and elevating living standards on Saba is one of the main priorities in the package. In order to achieve this, Saba will develop a Community Development Plan to address the multifaceted challenges of the community. The Dutch ministries of BZK, VWS, SZW and OCW will collaborate to support the Public Entity in drafting this plan. An important step in achieving an integrated approach, will be the creation and implementation of a single point of service provision for services for community development. This will reduce bureaucracy and improve the quality and speed of services. Furthermore, agreements are made to reduce substance abuse and associated health risks and to follow-up on the commitments that were made with the apology for the slavery past.
Economic and Spatial Development
To achieve sustainable economic development, the Dutch government and the PES will work on diversifying the economy and improving the earning capacity of Saba in the long term. This will make the economy of the island more resilient to external shocks. Important elements in that cooperation are: developing and executing a strategic plan for economic development, improved access to funding, removal of bottlenecks to economic development, promoting entrepreneurship and supporting businesses. Furthermore, an investigation on the cost of doing business will be carried out. The Taskforce Bottlenecks to Economic Development will continue working on these efforts. Agreements also have been made on digitalization of organizations and services as a way of improving the level of the quality of services. Digitalization also creates the need for ensuring digital inclusion. To this end, a dedicated education and training program on digital awareness will be established. In line with the advice of the Thodé commission on the improving of living standards and fighting poverty, an additional letter of intent was signed on the developing and construction of 50 affordable and social houses.
Climate, nature and sustainability
Saba and the Dutch Government will continue working on initiatives that will make Saba better prepared for the impacts of climate change. The PES and different ministries of the Dutch government (BZK, EZK and IenW) commit themselves to drafting a climate plan for Saba. The aim is to finalize this plan in 2024. One of the biggest targets for the coming years is to increase Saba's renewable energy share from 40% to approximately 89% by implementing a comprehensive energy infrastructure, with for example solar panels.
The ministry of BZK and the Public Entity Saba commit themselves to further strengthening the administrative and executive power of the island, as well as the quality of public governance. The PES will draw up an Action Plan Good Governance. Also, a learning and development program for civil servants, as well as additional capacity, is needed to contribute to the improvement of the execution power and performance of the organization. This learning and development program will provide civil servants and other government workers the opportunity for personal development and growth, along with learning new skills that are relevant for local government. In addition to that, the PES and the Dutch government commits to investing in the younger generation of Saba by offering opportunities for career exploration within PES, specifically in the form of (summer) internships.