Dutch banks can, in principle, offer banking services in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, but are faced with legal and practical obstructions, according to Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen.
She stated this in response to written questions of Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Joba van den Berg and Inge van Dijk, both of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, about banking on the islands, especially in St. Eustatius and Saba, where the local economy, residents and entrepreneurs are hampered by the lacking banking services.
Members of Parliament (MPs) Van den Berg and Van Dijk had asked the state secretary why it was not possible for a resident of the Caribbean Netherlands to open a Dutch bank account, especially considering the fact that they are Dutch citizens.
Banks determine their own client base, based on their own business strategy and the desired risk profile, Van Huffelen explained. In principle, Dutch banks can offer their services in the Caribbean Netherlands. The Ministry of Finance has been talking to the Dutch banks to remove obstacles that prevent the offering of Dutch banking services in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Dutch banks have indicated in talks that aside from legal obstructions, they experienced a few practical issues in offering euro bank accounts in the Caribbean Netherlands. An example of this is the lack of postal codes. Both the issue of postal codes and the banking services are being addressed by a special task force that has been established for Saba and St. Eustatius.
Indeed, residents of the Caribbean Netherlands with Dutch nationality are citizens of the European Union (EU), but that does not automatically give them the right to a Dutch bank account. According to EU regulations, Dutch banks are not obligated to offer a basic bank account to residents of the Caribbean Netherlands.
MPs Van den Berg and Van Dijk also sought clarity about the very limited access of Saba residents to (affordable) mortgages. Van Huffelen explained that the Authority Financial Market AMF in the Netherlands has not received signals that the financial institutions offering mortgages in Saba were abusing their position and had unreasonably high interest rates. The rates do not deviate from the ones offered in Bonaire, she stated.
The MPs further noted that the mortgage guarantee is being offered in Bonaire, and shortly in St. Eustatius, but not in Saba, because the only bank offering this, the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB), does not have a branch in Saba.
The state secretary confirmed this and explained that one of the conditions for the mortgage guarantee is the presence of a bank that is under direct supervision of the Dutch Central Bank DNB. The MCB complies with this condition. The mortgage guarantee can be expanded to Saba when the other banks in the Caribbean Netherlands comply.
The Daily Herald.