Motion adopted to raise islands’ family allowance

The Dutch Government will have to look into a way to significantly increase the family allowance (“kinderbijslag”) in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

A majority of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday supported a motion by Members of Parliament (MPs) Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA and Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) calling for an increase of the family allowance to US $150 per child per month.

Roelof van Laar
Roelof van Laar
Ronald van Raak
Ronald van Raak

All opposition parties, except for the Party for Freedom PVV, which is against the current Kingdom constellation in general, the ruling liberal democratic VVD party and a few small right wing parties, voted in favour of the motion of Van Laar and Van Raak. The VVD is of the opinion that the best way to tackle poverty is by stimulating economic development and creating more jobs, instead of through subsidies.

The motion was submitted in the wake of the debate last Monday with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk about the Caribbean Netherlands constitutional evaluation report of the Spies Committee and the response of the Dutch Government to that report.

The motion stated that many single parents in the Caribbean Netherlands don’t have a “liveable income,” and are working full-time but earning a minimum salary, which is about $800. As a result many children grow up in a family without a liveable income which in turn leads to poverty. A higher family allowance to help these families is the thought behind the request of Van Laar and Van Raak.

The motion requested the Dutch Government to make suffi cient funds available within the budget destined for the Caribbean Netherlands to pay for the increase of the family allowance to $150 per child per month as of next year, and to inform the Second Chamber of this effort no later than the handling of the 2017 budget.

Currently the family allowance stands at $40 per child per month. This means that families with children would receive almost four times the amount they get now when the motion is executed and the law adapted. On a yearly basis, the increase will cost the Dutch Government some $6 million.

During the debate last week Monday, held in the presence of the Island Councils of Bonaire, Statia and Saba, Minister Plasterk said that he was willing to see whether there was room in the 2017 budget, but he couldn’t make any promises, also because the amount might have an adverse effect on the other expenditures that are made for education and public health on the islands.

The Second Chamber on Tuesday also adopted another motion submitted during last Monday’s meeting. The PvdA and the opposition parties voted in favour of a proposal of Democratic Party D66 MPs Paul van Meenen and Alexander Pechtold to establish a competition authority especially geared towards the Caribbean Netherlands.

This authority should help to tackle the risks of potential monopoly positions of companies that are associated with the small scale economies of Bonaire, Statia and Saba. These monopoly positions may result in higher prices for consumers on the islands.

Three other motions of Van Meenen and Pechtold to effectuate the agreements on achieving an acceptable level of provisions, to end the socalled compartmentalisation of the Dutch ministries where it comes to dealing with the islands, and to make structural funds available for the cost of maintenance of infrastructural projects, were rejected by the Second Chamber.

The Daily Herald.

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