Sunday, January 08, 2006
Netherlands Antilles at a Crossroads
Under the recently negotiated arrangement, Curaçao and St. Maarten will adopt a “status aparte”, while Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become "Kingdom Islands". The latter is a newly created status that has yet to be defined, but nevertheless represents closer integration with Holland, possibly even signifying becoming a municipality. These changes are expected to take effect in July of 2007. A key issue in the November agreement was the federation's US$ 2.8 billion public debt which is seen as an obstacle to economic development. The Dutch government has committed itself to find a solution to this problem. A discussion of economic issues confronting the Netherlands Antilles can be gleaned from a recent International Monetary Fund Mission to the islands.