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Structural subsidy for Statia, Saba internet tariffs needed

Dutch State Secretary of Eco­nomic Affairs and Climate Policy Mona Keijzer agrees with Consumer and Market Authority ACM that struc­tural subsidy is a necessity to bring the prices of tele­communication down in St. Eustatius and Saba. The subsidy for consumers will he increased to US $35 per month.

ACM recently published a report that it drafted on the state secretary’s request with regard to the tariffs of fixed Internet in St. Eustati­us and Saba, which are par­ticularly high on these two islands. ACM was asked to map the underlying cost of fixed Internet and to give advice on measures to re­duce the tariffs for the con­sumers.

The Internet tariffs in St. Eustatius and Saba are high due to a number of local, non-influenceable factors: the geographic position and topography of the is­lands, being located in a hurricane belt and the lim­ited number of residents.

ACM concluded that the telecommunication compa­nies. Eutel of St. Eustatius and Satel of Saba, did not seem to make excess prof­its. As such, the stricter regulation of the tariffs on cost will therefore probably not result in lower Internet tariffs for consumers. ACM also found that Eutel and Satel did not work ineffi­ciently.

According to ACM, mea­sures to give the islands rights to a part of the sea cable up to the Internet ex­change in Miami, the cancel­lation of the general sales tax ABB. the subsidising to con­struct a glass fibre network and increased cooperation between parties, would only have limited effects.

Therefore, ACM conclud­ed that the only option to bring the Internet tariffs in line with those of the Neth­erlands would be through a direct subsidy for the end users, the consumers. State Secretary Keijzer stated in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Par­liament late last week that she shared the findings of the ACM investigation. Keijzer agreed that it was not expected that the cost and tariffs would he re­duced without subsidising. “For a significant reduction of the tariffs, a structural subsidy is necessary,” she stated, noting that a differ­ence needed to be made between St. Eustatius and Saba on the one hand and Bonaire on the other, since the Internet prices were considerably higher on the two smaller islands.

As part of the coronavi­rus crisis support from the Dutch government, con­sumers in St. Eustatius and Saba are already paying US $25 less per month for their Internet. This direct sub­sidy will continue next year and will he increased to US $35 per month on the two Windward Islands.

In 2021, the Dutch govern­ment will take a decision as to whether to continue the Internet tariff subsidy in 2022. A next Dutch government, after the March 2021 parliamentary elec­tions, can take a decision on whether to make this measure permanent.

The Daily Herald.

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