Minimum wage, social security benefits and child benefit in the Caribbean Netherlands to rise

From the 1st of July 2024, the minimum wage in the Caribbean Netherlands will be $1,750 per month. Minister Schouten (poverty policy, participation and pensions) announced this during her visit to the Caribbean Netherlands from the 23rd to the 27th of October. Employer charges are going down to meet employers' additional costs. Besides the minimum wage, social security benefits will increase. Child benefit will go up by circa $90 per child per month on January the 1st 2024.

Minister Carola Schouten, Commissie Voorzitter Glenn Thode, Staatssecretaris Alexandra van Huffelen

Residents receiving minimum wage or social benefits, will already experience improvement from the 1st of January 2024. On Bonaire, the minimum wage on a 40-hour work week for a 21-year-old will rise to $1,570 per month, on St. Eustatius to $1,555 and on Saba to $1,654 per month. The social relief for a single person living independently and the old age pension (AOV) and AWW will increase to $1,335 per month on Bonaire, $1,322 on St. Eustatius and $1,406 per month on Saba. Child benefit will be $225 per child per month on Bonaire, $216 on St. Eustatius and $225 on Saba from the 1st of January.

The immediate reason for the minister's visit was the report ‘A Dignified Existence’, by the Caribbean Netherlands Social Minimum Committee. This report was presented to Minister Schouten and State Secretary Van Huffelen (Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation) on the 6th of October. Mr Thodé, chairman of the Committee, accompanied the minister during her visit.

During the visit, Minister Schouten and Mr Thodé spoke with (representatives of) Island Councils, Executive Councils, trade unions and employers, among others. Central to those discussions was the Committee's report and how best to follow up on its recommendations.

Minister Schouten:

"Many people are having a hard time on the islands. One in three lives in poverty: that concerns me and there lies a task. The report of the Caribbean Netherlands Social Minimum Committee indicates how everyone in CN can have a dignified existence. That is why the cabinet is now taking steps. Both on income, with the increase in minimum wage and social benefits and extra child benefit, and on costs such as electricity, water and internet. This is an important step, but there is still plenty to do to improve the situation of people in the Caribbean Netherlands."

Mr Thodé:

"Poverty is not normal, especially in a rich country like the Netherlands which these islands have been a part of for 13 years. It is the result of how we decide to share welfare with each other. It is not complex or complicated, because there is enough room for this social minimum, our research shows. The first good steps have now been taken for the minimum wage, the social benefits and some key cost items. With this, the cabinet is taking a big step to tackle poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands. I hope more steps will follow on costs."

The cabinet has structurally allocated €32 million for the islands. This will pay for the mentioned increase in social benefits and child benefit. Also, the energy allowance of $1,300 a year for low incomes will remain, as will the reduction in the fixed electricity tariff. The rate of drinking water and for internet will be further reduced, and the Cabinet will continue to allow free school meals in 2024 and make €1 million available to support local poverty policies in CN. Also €700,000 will be made available for public transport on the islands.