Fewer funds earmarked for public entities in 2017

The Dutch Government is reducing its expenditures for and in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba by some 25 million euros next year. The so-called free remittance in the BES Fund and the contribution of the Dutch Ministries will all slightly go down next year.

The BES Fund, the financial component for the Caribbean Netherlands in the 2017 budget of Kingdom Relations dedicated to assist in covering the cost of tasks that are carried out by the islands, has been set at 32.6 million euros for 2017. In 2016, the amount was 33.4 million euros. The 2017 budget of the BES Fund was presented along with the 2017 Kingdom Relations budget on Tuesday.

The amount in the BES Fund has been reduced systematically after 2015. In that year, a total of 46.5 million euros was allocated in the BES Fund for the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. In the BES Fund budget, the revenues and expenditures are equal.

As customary, almost the entire BES Fund in 2017 has been reserved for the free remittance, which amounts to 32.5 million euros. In 2016, this amount was 33.2 million euros and in 2015 the amount was 46.4 million euros.

A number of amounts are deducted from the 2017 free remittance. It concerns the repayment of interestfree loans that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science OCW has made available for the islands to improve the educational facilities, to construct new schools and renovate existing schools.

St. Eustatius in 2017 has to pay back 0.2 million US Dollars in connection with a 4 million US Dollar loan that the Ministry of OCW funded in 2013 . Saba has to pay back US $0.3 million of a US $1.3 million loan that was acquired in 2013.

Saba also has to repay US $0.3 million in 2017 in connection with a 2015 interest-free loan at which time the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment I&M made US $2.5 million available to invest in the island’s road infrastructure.

Also deducted from the free remittance for all three islands are the advances of work capital related to the dismantling of the Country Netherlands Antilles, US $2.3 million over five years, from 2014 to 2018.

The individual Ministries have reserved funds for the islands on their 2017 budgets: 285.1 million euros. This is less than the 309.6 million euros which the Ministries spent for and in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2016. This mostly has to do with the termination of a number of infrastructural projects.

The Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS will be spending the biggest chunk in 2017: 113 million euros for health care. This is slightly less than the 116.4 million euros of 2016.

The second biggest spender on the islands in 2017 is the Ministry of OCW which has reserved more than 54 million euros. Of this amount, 12.8 million goes towards primary education in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, 15.3 million euros for secondary education and close to 7 million for vocational and adult education.

An amount of 20.6 million euros has been earmarked for subsidies relating to education. The Ministry of OCW spent about 56 million euros on education in 2016. The amounts spent on primary and secondary education will remain more or less the same in 2017 compared to 2016.

The Ministry of Security and Justice V&J will spend more than 34 million euros next year on the police (18 million euros), the prison and sanction related expenditures (9 million euros) and on security and the fighting of crime in general (5 million euros). For 2016 these amounts were almost the same.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour SZW has allocated a bit more than 30 million euros for the Caribbean Netherlands in 2017, which is almost identical to 2016. The biggest amount, 20.4 million euros is for the old age pension AOV. Funds have also been reserved for social welfare (“onderstand”), sickness allowance, the combating of poverty, daycare for children, allowance for widowers and orphans and for parent contributions.

The Ministry of Finance has allocated 13 million euros in its 2017 budget to cover the cost of the Tax Office, which is more than 3 million euros less than in 2016. The Ministry of Economic Affairs designated close to 7 million euros for the islands compared to the close to 12 million euros of 2016. Overall, there will be less money for sustainable energy, business development and nature.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK has allocated more than 6 million euros to improve the social economic structure in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2017, less than the some 11 million euros in 2016. Also, 4 million euros has been reserved for the public administrations in 2017.

The Ministry of I&M has reserved some 8 million on its 2017 budget for, among other things, physical development, aviation, maritime affairs, sustainability and a contribution to investment funds. In 2016, this Ministry spent more than 20 million euros, of which close to 9 million for aviation and the airports.

The islands do not only cost money, but they also yield tax revenues. For 2017, this amount has been estimated at 144.8 million euros. The Dutch Government estimated that the Caribbean Netherlands will yield 47.7 euros in indirect taxes, mostly generated by the general sales tax ABB (37.4 million euros). The revenues of direct taxes for 2017 have been set at 97.1 million euros, mostly consisting of revenues from wage taxes and social premiums (87.8 million euros).

The 2017 budget from Kingdom Relations and the BES Fund provided an overview of the island revenues. In total, an estimated US $8.9 million in local levies will be collected on the three public entities to help cover the cost of the local governments.

In Bonaire, the total revenue of local levies for this year has been set at US $8.3 million. In St. Eustatius an estimated US $307,000 will be collected this year and in Saba US $208,000. The biggest contribution comes from the vehicle tax.

The Daily Herald.

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