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Budget change approved for Caribbean Netherlands

The Sec­ond Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday approved a change to the 2020 budget to financially accommodate additional measures for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

No debate was necessary and the budget amend­ment was adopted as a formality. It specifically concerns an incidental supplementary budget of the Ministry of Infrastruc­ture and Water Manage­ment regarding additional measures for the Caribbe­an Netherlands in connec­tion with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dutch government earlier decided to make 9.8 million euros available for the three islands which are part of the Nether­lands. The public entities in total will receive 2.7 million euros from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and 7.1 million euros from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Poli­cy.

The 2020 budget of the Ministry and Water Man­agement will be increased by 2.73 million euros, di­vided over integral water policy (0.73 million euros) and shipping and harbours (two million euros).

The 0.73 million euros will be used to lower water bills by reducing the fixed water tariff to zero for clients in Bonaire and St. Eustatius. This measure applies from May 1 to the end of this year. Because Saba has no water distri­bution network and no fixed water tariff, the fund­ing will go towards the ex­pansion of cistern storage capacity, which will mean lower water cost.

The contributions to the public entities St. Eu­statius and Saba will be increased by two million euros in 2020 to finance a pilot to improve the ferry connection between Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.

“The islands greatly de­pend on tourism and have been hit hard by the crisis. With a solid and afford­able ferry, it is expected that after the lockdown, tourists from the region will visit the islands more often and that residents can travel more often and at a cheaper price,” it was stated in the Explanatory Note.

The budget amendment will go into effect after publication in the Na­tional Gazette and will be retroactive to May 1, 2020.

The budget amendment for the Ministry of Eco­nomic Affairs and Climate Policy for an amount of 7.1 million euros, to be al­located for, among other things, the electricity and Internet tariff reduction for the Caribbean Neth­erlands until December 2020, will be handled at a later date.

The Daily Herald.

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