SABA -The Public Entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in a joint letter sent to State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labor Tamara van Ark on September 17, expressed support for the steps that the State Secretary is taking to eradicate poverty on the islands. However, more is needed. The three islands are asking the ministries in The Hague to implement further extending structural improvement measures. Measures that will reduce the high cost of living and bring a better balance between people’s income and the cost of living.
The high cost of connectivity between the islands, water, electricity and telecommunications need to go down. The islands encourage the State Secretary to continue with the measures in her own domain and to inspire the other ministries to do the same. “Poverty is now clearly on the agenda. Now is the time to take further meaningful measures. Poverty alleviation is only possible with an integral approach of all ministries.”
The Public Entities suggested to, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), come with concrete measures to stimulate the economy and to reduce the cost of doing business. Some of the suggestions include facilitating (new) entrepreneurs, reducing/eliminating the general import tax ABB on certain goods and services, fixing a basic facility such as the banking system, creating a customs union between islands and solving the connectivity issue. Regarding connectivity between the islands, the letter stated: “The reliability and quality of the connections, the frequency and price of transport via air and water are important for our population, our economies and for the transport of entrepreneurs and other professionals. We propose to, aside from a bigger discussion about the public service obligation in aviation, start clear pilots in which the ministries and Public Entities work together.”
The islands consider the direction positive. At the same time, the Public Entities pointed out that there is “much work” for the various ministries to solve the poverty issue in a sustainable manner. “We, the islands will continue with what we can and have to do, by among other things, investing in good governance, further developing agriculture, price comparisons and work in the social domain. Things are happening. Now it comes down to all ministries implementing measures that result in closing the poverty gap. Eradication of poverty is only possible with a broad input and an integral approach of the ministries, the public entities and others. You have our support in that process.” State Secretary Van Ark arrives on Bonaire on Tuesday, October 1 for a four-day working visit. She visited St. Eustatius and Saba late June 2019.