As expected, a majority of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday voted down the motion of Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party(SP) and Nevin Özütok of the green left party GroenLinks, to set a social minimum for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba without delay.
The three parties, the Democratic Party D66, Christian Democratic Party CDA and ChristianUnion CU, which two years ago supported the first, similar motion of Van Raak, at that time submitted with Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA, now voted against. The difference: two years ago these parties were in the opposition and now they are part of the governing coalition with the liberal democratic VVD party, which is not in favour of setting a social minimum.
Several opposition parties, including the Party for Freedom PVV, also voted against the SP/GroenLinks motion, which Van Raak tabled last week Wednesday during a continued debate about the establishing of a social minimum, a benchmark that is an important tool to alleviate the increasing poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Van Raak in his response to the rejected motion accused the Dutch government of breaking an agreement, namely the execution of the adopted 2016 Van Raak/Van Laar motion, and the earlier promise that it would make things better for the people on the islands.
“We often accuse politicians on the islands that they do not keep their part of the agreement, but now we are doing the same thing. It is a shame that a rich country like the Netherlands allows poverty to continue to exist in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. That is also bad for the trust of people,” Van Raak told The Daily Herald. The Netherlands does have a social minimum.
In the motion, Van Raak and Özütok reminded the Dutch government that the Second Chamber had asked to set a social minimum for the islands, based on the cost of living. The motion requested government to execute this request. Authorities on all three islands have condemned the decision of the Dutch government not to set a social minimum for now.
The Second Chamber on Tuesday adopted the four motions that were submitted and co-signed by the CDA, VVD, D66 and CU in which the Dutch government was requested to take a number of measures to help alleviate poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands. Member of Parliament (MP) Joba van den Berg (CDA) presented a motion last week Wednesday asking government to draft a multi-annual, integral action plan aimed at fighting poverty and improving living conditions, to increase self-supporting activities of the islands such as agriculture, infrastructure and energy, while supporting good governance and solid financial management. Van den Berg said it was important to give people perspective. MP Stieneke van der Graaf (CU) with her motion sought to move the Dutch government to indicate in 2019 what steps would need to be taken to reach the social minimum norms and to give content to the earlier pledge that the social minimum norms would serve as a “dot on the horizon.” Acknowledging that poverty was a real problem on the islands, Van der Graaf said that her party wanted to work towards setting the norm for a social minimum.
MP Antje Diertens (D66) presented two motions. One motion sought to strengthen the quality of child care and to make this broadly accessible on the islands. The other motion asked the Dutch government to help the public entities to professionalise the execution of policies regarding poverty eradication and the assistance provided to people who had taken on considerable debt because they didn’t earn enough to pay the bills. Diertens said it was important to take measures now and not in 2020 as the government had originally intended.
The Daily Herald.