The dissolution of a nation

willemstad

New horizons for “public bodies”

Last Thursday, September 9th, the final statement was signed by all parties involved regarding the dissolution by October 10th, 2010 of the Netherlands Antilles as a country. At the same time, two new countries, Sint Maarten and Curaçao, will be created. This constitutional reform in the Kingdom of the Netherlands will make end the era of the Netherlands Antilles – six islands in the Caribbean which were never really a coherent group.

Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 already, becoming an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And now Curaçao and Sint Maarten follow in Aruba’s footstep. The remaining three islands – the so-called BES islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba – will become direct part of the Netherlands as special communities, a form of “public body”. They will probably become part of the Dutch province of North Holland.

A lot of legislation needs to be synchronized between these BES islands and the Netherlands. Some of the issues are controversial, such as same-sex marriage, others are more practical: what about the local currency? The Antillean guilder (or florin), will be dropped, and these islands choose the US Dollar as new official currency; the Netherlands, on the other hand, uses the Euro.

With less than 20.000 inhabitants in total on the three BES islands, data quality problems seem far away. Good chance the local postman knows every islander and addressing problems are solved on his daily round. The civil servants however will have to adopt the Dutch municipal system. Will they face the same challenges with the PIVA (the municipal register) as their counterparts in the Netherlands with the GBA? Last year a departmental survey showed “promising” 5,2% errors in the Dutch GBA…

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