Social Economic impulse for Dutch Caribbean islands

The Dutch Central Government has together with the governments of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba discussed a number of initiatives in order to improve the social economic situation of the islands. In some cases these are issues that go beyond the own carrying capacity.

The islands in the Caribbean became part of the Netherlands two years ago. During this time many improvements were implemented on the islands such as in education and health care. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment carried out a study in the spring about poverty in the Dutch Caribbean. The outcome showed that the situation of people at the lower level of society require further improvement. The governments of the islands are the first government with responsibility for the poverty policy.

In order to also from within the Dutch Central Government make a contribution the Cabinet has made the following decisions:

  • The special “onderstand” will be extended in order for more use to be made of this, mainly for the costs of school necessities. The extra allowance for disability in de “onderstand” will be increased by 50% in relation to the current level.
  • A part of the costs for the utilities as a result of scale disadvantages in the Dutch Caribbean will be apportioned to the European Netherlands. Also, there will be independent supervision. In this way the burden of the people and businesses in the Dutch Caribbean will be limited as a result of rising prices. The apportioning of the costs of utilities was already common practice in the European part of the Netherlands, and is now so in all of the Netherlands including the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The aim is to realize this through legislation per January 1st, 2014. For the transitional year 2013 the Ministries of Economic Affairs & Innovation (in Dutch Economische Zaken, Landbouw & Innovatie EL&I) and Infrastructure and Environment (in Dutch Infrastructuur en Milieu I&M) will make a financial contribution to lower the price increases.
  • Employment will be promoted through the implementation of the concept of “social return” at Central Government construction projects in the Dutch Caribbean. With this the social impact of the projects will be increased. An example of this is setting up student-construction sites.
  • From the Central Government extra investments will be made for child care in the Dutch Caribbean.
  • In the scope of approximately US$ 5 million of surplus of tax revenues in the Dutch Caribbean for 2011 a package of measures were agreed upon with the Ministry of Finance which will on the one hand improve the purchasing power and on the other hand further stimulate the economy of the islands. In the package there are measures which will decrease the real estate tax, lower excise duty on fuel and expand the tax exemption on basic necessities.
  • Per island in the Dutch Caribbean a so-called E-team will be established. This is a collaboration between the government and the businesses on the islands with the purpose to further stimulate economic development.

The island governments were in The Netherlands from October 8th through the 12th for the half year meeting with the various ministries and departments in The Hague. Several other appointments which took place during the so-called Dutch Caribbean Week (CN-Week) were:

  • With the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (in Dutch Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap OCW) education housing plans were signed for each of the three islands. These plans provide for improvements of all school buildings in the Dutch Caribbean.
  • On each island of the Dutch Caribbean airports will be improved.