Ipko-delegations return home satisfied “We made more progress than ever”

POSTED: 06/10/14 12:00 AM

THE HAGUE – “We have made more progress than ever,” was the conclusion of all delegations at the end of the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (Ipko) on Friday, Jamila Baaziz reports on Caribisch Netwerk.

To the relief of MP Roy Marlin, Zita Jesus-Leito (Curacao) and Desirée de Sousa-Croes (Aruba) the Ipko made significant progress with the handling of study debts of Caribbean students.

The Ipko furthermore discussed integrity, the development of youngsters, economic opportunities and joint research into geothermal energy in the Windward Islands.

Caribbean students could possibly experience direct results of the Ipko reasonable fast. Study debts in euros possibly will be converted into dollars for students who return to the Caribbean after their graduation. De Sousa-Croes: “This makes repaying a debt much more affordable. It is also nice that the islands will get a local helpdesk of DUO.”

MP Roy Marlin, chairman of St. Maarten’s Permanent Parliamentary Kingdom Relations Committee, is satisfied that research will be done into the possibility to expand study financing for studying in the Caribbean region. “This enables students to stay in the region and their return home after graduation becomes easier. Hopefully they will also encounter fewer problems this way. This might solve the problem of the brain drain.”

There is more good news for students, according to the politicians. The Second Chamber reached an agreement last week about writing new legislation for the Dutch study financing system. The Ipko delegations agreed to look at the consequences of this legislation for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Senator Marijke Linthorst: “That is unique.”

De Sousa-Croes and Marlin are not afraid that Caribbean students won’t dare to take up a study in the Netherlands in the future, because they will probably build a larger study debt with the new study financing system. In 2015 the Netherlands abolishes the performance grant in exchange for a loan-system. Students will then have to repay all the money for their study.

“Studying costs money,” says Marlin. “That’s just the way it is.” De Sousa-Croes assumes that students will put more thought into what they really want.

The Ipko was about more than study financing alone. For St. Maarten the promise to do research into geothermal energy is an important result for the long term. TNO-research must result in the future in lower energy-prices for St. Maarten, Saba and Statia. “This will also have positive consequences for the investment climate in the Windward Islands,” Marlin said.

All delegations are happy that the Ipko discussed the sensitive subject of integrity. They agreed that the countries will work towards integrity standards that are acceptable to all. This is not just about rules but also about a code of conduct. The Ipko established a special committee for this purpose. MP Roy Marlin is a member of this committee for St. Maarten. The other members are Alfred Sneek (Aruba), Elmer Wilsoe (Curacao) and Marja van Bijsterveld (Netherlands).

The controversy about money laundering suspect Patrick Illidge earlier last week did not ruin the discussion about integrity. Chairman Jeroen Recourt: “We have not let ourselves be distracted by that. It has strengthened our relationships.”

MP Elmer Wilsoe (Curacao) told Caribisch Netwerk that youngsters will feel the effects of Ipko. “We want our ministries that deal with youngsters – education, social affairs, healthcare and justice – to support each other. This way they won’t be working at cross-purposes and we prevent that children end up in court. As Members of Parliament we will keep an eye on this.”

The next Ipko will take place from January 6 to 9, 2015, in Aruba.


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