A big financial step for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands
Various departments have joined forces to further support Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. The investment is meant to give an extra impulse to improve the living standard of the inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands. In addition, the free allowance of the public entities will increase considerably. Starting in 2023, the government will structurally invest an additional 30 million in Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius. In addition, the departments themselves will also contribute in combating poverty. This amount will be increased year by year to EUR 12 million structurally in 2025.
These extra investments are badly needed. Poverty and the standard of living have been the big issue in the Caribbean Netherlands for ten years. A hurricane, inflation and a pandemic made the cost of living much more expensive. In 2022, a total of 23 million extra will be added and as of 2023, this amount will be further increased to 30 million on a structural basis. With this investment, the government is fulfilling the promise for structural investments made in the coalition agreement.
State Secretary Van Huffelen: "Life in the Caribbean Netherlands is expensive. The costs for drinking water, electricity, telecom and housing are high. For many people, it is difficult to make ends meet. With this investment, we can first of all ensure higher incomes and benefits, and lower monthly costs. In concrete terms, this means, for example, increasing benefits and the minimum wage, but also reducing the cost of living, such as drinking water and energy costs. Together with the government, I will continue to make efforts to ensure that daily life becomes more affordable. In addition, in consultation with the islands we will make agreements about for example, nature, climate and tourism."
Thus, there will be money for the preservation of nature and the environment, and the implementation of the Nature-Environmental Policy Plan Caribbean Netherlands (Natuur- Mileubeleidsplan Caribisch Nederland). The government will invest EUR 35 million in this during this cabinet period.
Specifically, it concerns the following measures:
- The legal minimum wage and benefits will be increased annually from 2023 so that the legal minimum wage will be at the social minimum in 2025 (+28% on Bonaire, +18% on St. Eustatius, +23% on Saba)
- In addition, the amount for a single person living independently in the welfare system will gradually increase from 55% to 70% in 2025;
- The amount of the child benefit will be increased by $10 as of 1 July 2022 and by another $10 per month per child as of 1 January 2023.
- An unemployment regulation will be introduced in the Caribbean Netherlands;
- There will be structural subsidies for drinking water;
- Funds will be made available for public housing, so that the construction of 204 social housing units on Bonaire can be accelerated and a first tranche of 10 housing units on St. Eustatius can be renovated;
- Strengthening the employment services by means of, amongst others, a budget for training and development programmes and retraining programmes
- Strengthening sustainable regional cooperation in vocational education, including through an apprenticeship fund and strengthening cooperation between training courses in the tourism sector with Curaçao and Sint Maarten
- Substantially increasing the resources for the public entities themselves, especially to the free allowance. As of 2025, the island governments will structurally receive €13 million more in resources for island tasks. In addition, €10 million is available for incidental backlogs.
The precise details of the contribution can be found in Annex 1.
* A total of € 23 million is available in 2022 and € 30 million structurally as of 2023. Administrative consultations are taking place about the exact details.
* The annual report 2021 of Kingdom Relations shows that in 2021 a total of € 557 million was invested by the ministries for the Caribbean Netherlands.