Extension Internet subsidy for Caribbean Netherlands

The subsidy for internet connections in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will continue until mid-2022, Dutch caretaker Minister of Economic Af­fairs and Climate Stef Blok announced on Monday.

In a letter that he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, Blok ex­plained that the decision-taking about the continua­tion or termination of the subsidy for internet con­nections was up to the next Dutch government.

However, until a new gov­ernment takes over in The Hague, it was decided to maintain the current ar­rangement whereby inter-net users in St. Eustatius and Saba receive a monthly discount of US $35 and US $25 in Bonaire.

The minister stated that he considered it “prudent” to extend the support by half a year. “This way, the current situation will be maintained, and the residents of the is­lands will know what they can expect while waiting for a more structural decision-taking about the combating of poverty by the new gov­ernment,” Blok stated.

The continuation of the internet connection subsidy until the middle of next year will cost the Dutch govern­ment 1.5 million euros. The subsidy was introduced in May 2020 as a form of as­sistance for the islands dur­ing the coronavirus crisis. Initially, it was decided to stop the subsidy for internet connections per December 31, 2021.

The Dutch government will stick to its earlier decision to terminate the subsidy of the fixed tariff of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands per January 1, 2022, even though the energy prices will increase, just as they are in the rest of the world.

The Hague will allocate 2 million euros to mitigate the high energy prices, but this will not entirely compensate people’s higher electric­ity bills. The 2 million euros compensation will not be applicable to larger busi­nesses. However, these busi­nesses receive a structural subsidy for the fixed tariff of electricity so it is equal to the level in the Netherlands.

This week, the Second Chamber of the Dutch Par­liament will handle the 2022 draft budget for Economic Affairs and Climate. It is expected that the high en­ergy prices and the possible subsidising of electricity and water on the three islands will be discussed.

During the handling of the 2022 draft budget for Kingdom Relations last month, Member of Parlia­ment (MP) Don Ceder of the ChristianUnion (CU) had enquired about the sub­sidies for electricity, water and telecommunications in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The Daily Herald.

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