Strengthened cooperation against poverty on Bonaire and additional measures for Caribbean Netherlands
During the jointly organised work conference 'United against poverty' of the Public Entity of Bonaire (OLB) and the Central Government, both parties strengthened cooperation in a declaration of intent with concrete work agreements. Minister Carola Schouten also announced additional steps against poverty.
The challenges on the islands are great. During the conference, everyone therefore agreed: the focus should shift from combatting poverty to working on welfare and widespread prosperity. Not only income was discussed, but also the steps to be taken to reduce costs and to organise debt relief. Minister Schouten stressed that schemes should be there for people and not the other way around. And that the challenges ahead are a joint task. Together with Deputy Craane, she asked all parties involved to join hands. Something that the central government and OLB themselves endorsed by signing a final declaration.
"The need is high. Unfortunately, we know the harrowing situations of children going to school on an empty stomach. Of people with multiple jobs who still cannot make ends meet. I often say that my ideal is for people to have 'one job'. Here, it is that people need to have one job. To really help people, we need to work together. Because the issue does not belong to one individual. We have to take steps together. And that is what we did today. To continue building a dignified existence. That is what I will continue to work for."
Commissioner Jolinda Craane:
"Another important pillar in the local approach to poverty is investing in the development and prevention of disadvantages in our children. So that we can be sure they will have equal opportunities later on. For a sustainable approach to poverty, residents must not just make ends meet, but together we must build a society in which everyone can participate and get the best out of themselves."
The OLB is emphatically taking the lead in local poverty policy and outlined a roadmap to achieve an integrated approach this year to prevent, combat and alleviate poverty. Minister Schouten announced to release EURO 550,000 specifically for this programme. She also announced to release EURO 100,000 for the start of a pilot enabling tailor-made solutions. The joint commitment is to create equal opportunities and allow everyone to participate in society. At the end of this year, the detailed plans should be confirmed in administrative agreements between OLB and the Central Government.
Extra measures for all islands
Besides the strengthened cooperation, Minister Schouten also announced additional measures for the entire Caribbean Netherlands. The social relief allowance for single persons and the AWW will be increased per the 1st of October 2023 and a second period for the temporary scheme Double Child Benefit Intensive Care will be opened, in anticipation of the introduction of the structural scheme. The energy allowance for low-income households will be extended for 2023.
"I emphasise: we are going to establish a social minimum. The Social Minimum Commission Caribbean Netherlands will advise on this later this year, given the current economic times with rising costs. Meanwhile, we are not standing still. We will continue to work for widespread prosperity and equal opportunities. I promise to keep pushing and pulling to get that done and it was beautiful to hear that all parties involved want to continue contributing to that end."