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  3. Netherland Antilles Break Up May Begin In July '07

Netherland Antilles Break Up May Begin In July '07

by Amanda Banks,, London

28 September 2006

The transition process towards the dismantling of the Netherland Antilles could begin in July 2007, according to the Dutch Council of State.

However, acknowledging that the target date is only ten months away, the Council, or RvSt, has warned the constituent islands against too much optimism about the date, the Daily Herald has revealed.

According to the report, the RvSt stated that: "There are great risks to a de facto dismantled Netherlands Antilles without having the legal and organisational structures in place. A decent and multi-annual transition plan is vital."

The current process has its origins in a constitutional crisis which erupted in 2004 due to irreconcilable differences between the constituent islands, and a joint Commission appointed by the Netherlands and the local government concluded that the jurisdiction should be broken up, with the islands of Curacao and St Maarten becoming autonomous countries alongside the Netherlands and the Caribbean island of Aruba, whilst the remaining three islands - Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius - should be brought under the direct control of the Dutch government in The Hague. This was approved by the Dutch cabinet in December 2004.

Towards this end, the RvSt has suggested that a government commissioner, supported by a secretariat, should be appointed by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to oversee the implementation of the actual dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, including the introduction of new laws.

The RvSt is also proposing a 'Legislation Bank' (Wettenbank) of the Netherlands Antilles, and the five island territories which would facilitate a complete overview of all laws that are applicable on July 1, 2007. From this date, Dutch laws for the three smaller islands will begin to be implemented.

However, the council warned that achieving country status for Curacao and St. Maarten, and direct ties for the other islands, would be a “considerable, complicated and lengthy operation,” with both national debt and individual island debts to consider.

The jurisdiction's total debt, which stands at NAF5 billion (US$2.8 billion) will be restructured with the assistance of the Dutch government, according to the 2005 Roundtable Agreement.

TAGS: Curaçao

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