The social security system of the Netherlands is aimed at guaranteeing (a sufficient degree of) subsistence security for its inhabitants. However, there is a different system in the Dutch Caribbean than in the European Netherlands. It is sad but true: the system of the Dutch Caribbean is not equivalent to that of the European Netherlands. The result is that more than 40% of the households on Bonaire live far below the poverty line for a long time.
Last week the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland announced that the social security system on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius will be modernized. There is a legislative proposal for consultation. In the documents of the legislative proposal, we read that the proposal is intended to bring the social security system of the Dutch Caribbean to a more equivalent level to the European Netherlands. It says that the social security system must be future-proof and provide a balanced system of entitlements, rights, obligations, and income guarantees.
“So, that’s nice”, you think. But alas, even with this “modernization,” equivalency remains far from being achieved. Unkobon believes that social security and a balanced system of claims, rights, obligations, and income guarantees can only be achieved if the Dutch government first introduces a decent social minimum in the Dutch Caribbean, just as has been the case for years in the European Netherlands. The announced modernization does not provide for this.
The announced modernizations are only minor details. The Rijksdienst CN mentions the following improvements/modernizations:
- adjustments to leave arrangements for employees and pregnant self-employed persons
- extra child benefits for parents of children with extra care needs
- the commitment to reintegration and activation of sick employees and those with disabilities
What the Rijksdienst omits in the message is that leave arrangements and reintegration schemes for employees must be paid for largely by employers. Just the shifting of costs from the first three days of illness costs employers $450,000 a year. It’s a saving to the state. Spousal leave costs the state $90,000, and the child benefits adjustment $160,000. The cost to the employer of additional days of leave for pregnancy has not been estimated.
What the Rijksdienst also forgets to mention in the message (on purpose?) is that the bill hides an increase in the retirement age; from 65 to 66 years (in 2030). Furthermore, the announced phasing out of the endurance allowances on Saba and Statia is not mentioned by the Rijksdienst.
Well considered, the announced “modernizations” are only some very small adjustments for the benefit of the population of the islands. And furthermore, mainly savings for the Kingdom. A pacifier!
Unkobon is of the opinion that the Dutch government should stop with these small mouse steps when it comes to adjustments to the social security system of the Dutch Caribbean. These adjustments do not lead to a social security system equivalent to that of the European Netherlands. The inequality remains!
The Consumers’ Association of Bonaire pleads for the suspension of the announced measures and that all attention and energy of the Dutch government be focused on guaranteeing the livelihood security on Bonaire, Saba, and Statia, starting with the introduction of a decent social minimum on which the fight against poverty can REALLY be based.
This real fighting against poverty is far overdue, 12 years after 10-10-10!!!