While meaningful steps have been taken in the past year to improve the situation for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, it remains an important exercise to make sure that everyone can sustain themselves in the minimum cost of living.
“This especially counts during this exceptional period which has large consequences for the islands with the loss of income from tourism,” wrote Dutch State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labour Tamara van Ark in a progress report about the Dutch Caribbean that she sent to Parliament this week.
To emphasise the input of the Dutch government for the Caribbean Netherlands, a benchmark for the social minimum was established a year ago. The objective was to increase the people’s income and to reduce the cost of living to a reasonable level.
In this line, the legal minimum wage, the social allowances and the family allowance were again increased in the Caribbean Netherlands per January 1, 2020. The amount of the family allowance in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba is now double what it was in 2018.
As of 2020, the Dutch government is structurally making 9.8 million euros available for improvement of childcare quality and accessibility. This amount will further increase to more than 14 million euros for the three islands in 2021.
With this funding, the temporary subsidy arrangement for childcare can be expanded in the Caribbean Netherlands. This arrangement, which went into effect on July 1, is meant to reduce the cost of childcare for parents and to enable childcare organisations to invest in the quality of the care they offer.
Aside from expanding the temporary subsidy arrangement, the funds are also destined for training, improving labour conditions and investing in the housing of childcare facilities. The allocation will be arranged within the BES(t) 4 kids programme.
“Residents of the Caribbean Netherlands should be able to count on a secured livelihood. I am glad that as state secretary I was able to contribute to this in the past years. I am confident that the positive approach that the government together with the public entities started will continue. This is very necessary to further enhance the residents’ situation,” stated Van Ark, who will shortly become Minister of Medical Care and Sports.
Van Ark promised that in the coming years the government, with the public entities and the Central Dialogues in which the public entities and the social partners work together, will keep working on making things better for the islands’ residents.
Research is currently taking place to further increase the minimum wage, taking into account the local economy and the labour market. The government is also looking at ways to structurally reduce the cost of energy, telecom and drinking water.
The Daily Herald.