Senate backs speedy start of islands children’s allowance

Parents in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be receiving children’s allowance per January 1, 2016, now that the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament has agreed to approve the new Caribbean Netherlands Children’s Allowance Law as a formality next week.

The Senate’s Permanent Committees for Kingdom Relations and for Social Affairs and Employment on Tuesday agreed that further debate or research was not needed on the law proposal. This means that there will be no plenary debate or voting, and that the law proposal will be approved as a formality during the next meeting on December 8.

The Senate has paid heed to the November 27 letter of Dutch State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment Jetta Klijnsma in which she asked for a speedy handling of the law proposal so the law could go in effect on January 1, 2016.

In her letter, the State Secretary explained the urgency of the matter. “In the interest of the people in the Caribbean Netherlands, I make an urgent request to make the introduction per January 1, 2016 a reality,” Klijnsma stated.

Implementing the law retroactively was not an option for fiscal technical reasons, stated Klijnsma. And, introducing the children’s allowance (“kinderbijslag”) per July 1, 2016, would mean a delay of six months, which was only considered a fallback option.

Under the current system, only a limited number of parents, who pay income and wage tax, can make use of an annual fiscal reduction for families with children. Parents earning a minimum wage or on social welfare cannot make use of this tax reduction. This was deemed an undesirable situation, also because it didn’t contribute to the combating of poverty and the general development of the children.

The new law will entitle the parents of all 5,000 children in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to a children’s allowance of US $38 per child per month, instead of the parents of the 2,000 children making use of the current fiscal reduction. In St. Eustatius and Saba, the monthly amount will be US $41 due to the additional funds that the islands receive to combat poverty.

The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament approved the Caribbean Netherlands Children’s Allowance Law last Thursday, one day after the legislation debate with State Secretary Klijnsma. Only the liberal democratic VVD party and the Party for Freedom PVV voted against the law proposal.

The Electricity and Potable Water Law for the Caribbean Netherlands is not being handled with the same speed. The handling of this law, which regulates the production and distribution of electricity and drinking water in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, will take place in accordance with the regular procedure.

The Senate’s Committee for Kingdom Relations will start the handling of the law proposal on December 8, which means that the Electricity and Potable Water Law for the Caribbean Netherlands will go in effect in the course of next year.

The Daily Herald.

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