Kingdom News

Finally: ‘Social Minimum’ Benchmark Established!

Representatives of the 3 BES-islands together with State Secretaries Knops and Van Ark, during the meeting held on St. Eustatius. Photo: RCN.

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- After a very long period of discussions and much debate, the Dutch Cabinet has finally set a benchmark for the level of subsistence in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The so-called ‘social minimum’ is an indicative amount that someone at least needs to live on. The indicative amount is for a single person has now been set at approximately $945 a month on Bonaire, $1,056 on St. Eustatius and $1,077 on Saba.

According to the Dutch Cabinet, the incomes of residents in Caribbean Netherlands should increase, while the cost of living should decrease.

According to the Dutch Government, some measures were already implemented to achieve this balance.

“It on remains an important task to reach a benchmark for the social minimum on the islands”, according to State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) in a letter sent to Dutch Parliament. Van Ark in her letter also announces that she will further increase the minimum wage and child benefit as of 2020.

Van Ark, together with State Secretary Raymond Knops of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) held consultations with the public entities on St. Eustatius this week about measures needed to balance the incomes and the cost of living.

According to Van Ark the establishment of the ‘social minimum is an important step to improve the situation of the inhabitants on the islands.

“There is poverty and cost of living is expensive. We are going to tackle that with new, targeted measures. Some measures we can implement fast, others will take longer” said Van Ark.

Van Ark also said that throughout the Dutch cabinet there is the willingness to take the steps that are required to develop a social minimum. However, the State Secretary also pointed out that there were tasks for the governments of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius to improve the situation on the islands.

No mention was made of the way the social minimum was established, while this has been the topic of the fiercest discussion between the Dutch Government and the Local Government of the 3 public entities.

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