The Dutch government has allocated 399.2 million euros in expenditures for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in 2022. The Dutch government expects to have collected 151.3 million euros in taxes in the Caribbean Netherlands by the end of 2021.
Figures of the 2022 draft budget, which was presented to the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday, showed that next year The Hague in tends to spend less on the Caribbean Netherlands in 2022 than in 2020 and 2021, when additional means were allocated to help the islands, its government, residents and entrepreneurs cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the combined Dutch ministries spent 528.7 million euros on the three islands and in 2021, 472.7 million euros. The Dutch government provided support for the Caribbean Netherlands during the pandemic in the form of economic support measures, additional means for the public entities to compensate their losses and COVID-19 care.
For 2022, the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS has calculated 154.8 million in expenditures mainly for healthcare, which is the highest of all ministries. The ministry that spends the second most on the Caribbean Netherlands is the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science OCW which has allocated 74.3 million curos in expenditures for 2022.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour SZW has reserved 60.3 million euros for the three islands in 2022, while the Ministry of Justice and Security J&V anticipates spending 49 million euros on the Caribbean Netherlands.
A ministry that usually spends large amounts on infrastructural projects on the islands, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management I&W will spend 16.4 million euros in 2022, which is considerably less than in previous years.
Apart from the expenditures and investments by the individual ministries, the Dutch government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, yearly allocates means for the so-called BES Fund.
From this fund, the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba receive the means to execute their public tasks. For 2022, 42.3 million euros has been earmarked for the BES Fund. In 2021, this amount was higher: 57.5 million euros due to the additional means in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dutch government not only spends money on the three islands, but also collects money from taxes and premiums. For 2021, the taxes and premiums are anticipated to yield 151.3 million euros.
The biggest chunk of this amount comes from direct taxes: 96.4 million euros, mostly from wage tax and social/employee premiums (86.4 million euros). The proceeds of indirect taxes have been calculated at 28.1 million euros. Of this amount, 18.3 million euros is collected in general spending tax ABB and 8.3 million euros in transfer tax. The category “other taxes” is expected to yield 26.8 million euros.
In the draft 2022 Kingdom Relations budget it was noted that 2022 should be a phase of recovery for the Caribbean Netherlands.
“For 2022, the ambition remains to further improve the social and economic outlook in the Caribbean Netherlands.”
The coronavirus recovery plans will be an important aspect. In these plans, the damage caused by the pandemic is looked at, such as the delay in projects, the increased cost of materials and fuel and a decrease in employment.
The strengthening of the islands’ resilience in the long term is also part of these plans, under the motto “Building Back Better”. The Ministry of BZK will make an effort to improve quality of life, strengthen the government and execution capacity, and further develop infrastructure.
“The collaboration with the different ministries in The Hague, which are all responsible for their own task areas on the islands, plays a central role in this. The Ministry of BZK fulfils a central role in this: it has the responsibility to put issues on the agenda, coordinate the collaboration and where necessary, to facilitate.”
The Ministry of BZK said that it will see to it that the public entities bring and keep financial management at an adequate level. “The level of financial management in the Caribbean Netherlands is mixed. Where Saba has an unqualified audit approval for the past six years as proof of solid financial management, Bonaire and St. Eustatius are producing insufficient progress with projects to improve financial management and so far, there have been no tangible improvements.”
The Ministry of BZK will continue to offer expertise and make clear agreements to improve financial management in Bonaire and St. Eustatius. In 2022, a process will be started to adapt the Public Entities Law Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the Caribbean Netherlands Financial Law, with which new models of administrative and financial supervision will be introduced.
The Daily Herald.