In February 2022 a follow-up inspection will take place in the Caribbean Netherlands regarding the corona support measures that were carried out from March 2020 through October 2021 by the RCN unit SZW. Through the ‘SZW Emergency Regulation’ and the ‘EZK compensation’ a total of about 98 million EUR of emergency support was paid on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Companies selected by random sampling must provide further documentation to prove the information they declared on their application form.
Over 900 entrepreneurs in the Caribbean Netherlands made use of one or both support measures up to and including October 2021. The corona support was provided on the basis of information provided by the applicant, who signed for having provided it truthfully. This method was chosen at the time so that the affected companies and employees received the support as quickly as possible. It required honesty from the applicant. Companies had to submit a change form when their situation changed compared to the time of their application and report if they suspect that they have wrongly received compensation.
In the meantime, the RCN unit SZW contacted the applicant only in case of doubt or signals of incorrect use of the regulations. If it turned out that the amount paid out was too high, in many cases this was settled or reclaimed in good consultation. The Public Prosecutor’s Office BES took up cases where there was suspicion that incorrect data had been supplied on purpose.
The follow-up inspection will take place in February 2022. Companies selected by random sampling will be informed about the follow-up check by letter before the 1st of February. The Labor Inspectorate of the RCN-unit SZW carries out the investigation in cooperation with the Dutch Labor Inspectorate. The purpose of the follow-up inspection is to check whether the relatively simple system of aid regulations has worked. In addition, of course, a check is made on the legitimacy of the money received.
The support measures
The Emergency regulation SZW and the Contribution EZK were created at the beginning of the corona crisis to support entrepreneurs in the Caribbean Netherlands in their wage costs and fixed expenses. From the 13th of March 2020 until the12th of October 2021, approximately 700 employers used the SZW emergency regulation, to be able to keep a total of 3535 employees in service. In addition, the incomes of 1,079 independent entrepreneurs were supplemented and 585 former employees who could not keep their jobs, received a benefit through the regulation.
The ‘EZK Compensation’ was a subsidy from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Change to help entrepreneurs pay their fixed costs during the crisis. The financial relief consisted of six successive arrangements of which 901, 563, 457, 419, 453 and 290 entrepreneurs made use respectively. Both regulations ended in October 2021, when it was clear that the economy had recovered.