By René Zwart©
The Hague – The management of the Water and Electricity Company Bonaire can decide for itself whether consumers with lower income are spared when raising the new fees for electricity and water. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate said this in response to written questions from members of Parliament Joba van den Berg and Agnes Mulder (both CDA). The Minister points out that the subsidy awarded by him grants WEB the right to determine at its own discretion how it distributes the government contribution. This can be used, according to Wiebes, to lower the bill of groups most affected by the new tariff system. ”
Last week a delegation from WEB was in The Hague. On the eve of the meeting with representatives from Bonaire, the Minister had already announced that he was not going to increase the subsidy or to amend the law. “I am talking to WEB about how to use the subsidy”, confirming his unwillingness to make a move.
As far as the minister is concerned, he cannot avoid the increase of the rates. “The costs are higher than previously charged to the customer. This is mainly due to the increased oil price. The rest of the tariff increase (about one-third) is due to the network costs that have not been fully charged in the tariffs so far, thereby eroding the financial position of the network company (WEB). I am not prepared for an additional fuel subsidy”, said Wiebes.
When asked if the minster is willing to commit to an affordable energy supply, Wiebes answers with a resounding yes. “I want to focus on a sustainable energy supply, so that the costs for consumption in the Caribbean Netherlands can be reduced, while at the same time cleaner energy is generated and residents are less dependent on fossil fuel to generate energy. I prefer to improve affordability through (financial) support for sustainable production over tariff support for the (fossil) energy bill of the end user. ”
The minister disputes the claim that there would be no policy on BES islands to protect socially vulnerable people. “There is government-wide policy to promote the socio-economic development of the Caribbean Netherlands. There is also a additional policy to lower the fixed user tariffs so that the network management tariffs in the Caribbean Netherlands are comparable with those in the European Netherlands. This is done with a subsidy from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate for Electricity and from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for drinking water”. According to Wiebes the rates on Bonaire are kept artificially lower than in the Netherlands than the actual costs by means of this subsidy that is naturally paid by the Dutch taxpayer. ”