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Settlement committee final report almost ready

THE HAGUE--The settlement committee ("vereffeningscommissie") that is looking at the extent and the division of property of the former country the Netherlands Antilles should present its final report mid-2014, according to Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

Member of the Second Chamber André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party had inquired about the status of the final report, because he was worried that it might take a very long time before this complicated exercise is completed.

Bosman repeated earlier concerns in a debate of the Second Chamber's Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations with Minister Plasterk on Thursday. "The delay of the definite settlement of the property and the division of such, causes continued insecurity for all involved parties," he said.

The previous big division of property exercise, the one between the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, was a very lengthy affair: it took more than 10 years after Aruba's separate status on January 1, 1986, to conclude. The final settlement was only secured by law in 2000.

The exercise to settle and divide the property ("boedelscheiding") of the dismantled country the Netherlands Antilles will mostly take place between Curaçao and St. Maarten. The committee should present its final report to the three legal successors of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands in the summer of 2014, Plasterk assured Parliament during Thursday's debate.

The original plan was for the committee to complete its work mid-2013, but it was given an additional year. Plasterk said this was an acceptable prolongation due to the complexity of the matter and the investments that have been done in terms of fact-finding and reviews. Former Island Receiver and Director Resources Jean James represents St. Maarten on the committee.

Negotiations between the governments of the three countries will start after the presentation of the report to come to a definite division of the properties that once belonged to the Netherlands Antilles. The majority of these properties are in Curaçao.

Plasterk said he couldn't go along with the request of the Second Chamber to share the draft report of the property division committee, because of the negotiations that still have to take place between the three countries. He said the Parliaments of Curaçao and St. Maarten also haven't received the draft report.

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