Structure of Free Allowance should be reviewed

Bonaire.nu reports that Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba should not only receive a higher Free Allowance, but the amount that the islands receive annually should also consist of new elements, including money for maintenance after investment by the Dutch government. It would also be good idea for the three islands are to add funds for training and recruitment.

Research Agency Idea Versa writes this in the report about the BES fund that Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has sent to the Second Chamber. The present Free Allowance is based on an estimate of the revenue, expenses and duties of the three islands in 2011 and 2012. Based on these estimates, Bonaire receives $ 26.7 million, St. Eustatius 10.5 million and Saba $ 8.6 million.

Even when taking into account revenues from local taxes, these amounts are too low to cover all insular tasks ranging from caring for cemeteries to youth care. These tasks have not changed significantly in recent years, but became more expensive. The improvement of social services has also led to higher costs. For example, the costs for child care have increased, while the number of children has not increased significantly.

According to Idea Versa, Bonaire should receive an additional $ 5 million, St. Eustatius 1.8 million and Saba more than 1 million to cover tasks that are already being executed today. In addition, it would also make sense to add the structural contributions of each ministry to the Free Allowance such as annual contributions for drinking water, sanitation and health care. For Bonaire this would amount to about 5.5 million dollars and for St. Eustatius and Saba 1.5 million and $ 1 million respectively.

It is recommended not to add incidental Dutch contributions, such as grants for disaster management, to the Free Allowance, but to note these in an annual report. Finally, all three islands are lagging behind in the field of environmental management and protection, which is required by law. The annual cost for this, which could also be added to the Free Allowance, is estimated to amount to 5 million for Bonaire, for St. Eustatius 1.4 million and $ 1 million for Saba.

Further, the researchers write that especially Bonaire and St. Eustatius are in need of training and courses for staff. In contrast, Saba has a shortage of specialists. “The small size of the islands holds, that, already for a long time, there is a recruitment problem, in that, there are additional resources needed to stimulate the return of Caribbean Dutch or look for European Dutch that can fill particular specialist posts.” According to the researchers, an annual amount of $ 200,000 would be required for Bonaire, for St. Eustatius $ 150,000 and $ 100,000 on Saba.

Minister Plasterk writes that he will discuss the recommendations with the various departments and the governments of the three islands. The report will be part of the evaluation of the Caribbean Netherlands.

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