Commissioner Bruce Zagers: ‘Multiple challenges on Saba’

THE BOTTOM – Even though things were much better since Saba became part of the Netherlands in 2010, there are still multiple challenges in areas like poverty alleviation, the free allowance, government’s financial situation, the high cost of living, the high cost of doing business and connectivity. This is what Commissioner Bruce Zagers told the members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament during his visit to The Hague.

Saba has been the only island in the Dutch Caribbean with positive audit statements since 2014, but the strong financial management did not necessarily translate into the needed funding or a higher free allowance. Saba has been striving for an increase in the free allowance for several years now because the amount that it receives is insufficient to cover government’s operations and the costs of for example maintenance of infrastructural facilities. With a new Dutch government in place and additional funding allocated for the Caribbean Netherlands, Saba hopes that its financial issues and the matter of the low free allowance will be addressed.

Financial gap

In addition to the structural deficit, Saba is facing a financial gap in the execution of some projects: the construction of the new harbor at Black Rocks and new school buildings. Additional funding is also needed to accomplish the goal of 100 percent renewable energy in order to mitigate the high electricity prices. These financial gaps are being discussed during the visit of the Saba delegation to The Hague.

Another pressing issue that Zagers brought up in the talks not only with the MPs, but also with the involved ministries is the banking situation on Saba. Banking services are considered poor and expensive. This issue is hampering the island’s economic development and is highly frustrating for entrepreneurs and residents. The banking situation is an issue that needs to be solved through The Hague.

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