Minister Hoekstra deems banking services BES-islands ‘adequate’

Wopke Hoekstra, minister van Financiën
Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra feels the service on the BES-islands has improved. Photo: Arenda Oomen

The Hague- Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra is of the opinion that the banking services provided on the BES-islands, including the service on St. Eustatius and Saba are ‘adequate’. This is written in a letter the minister sent to the Second Chamber earlier this week.

“In my earlier letter a picture was given of the level of banking services in the Caribbean Netherlands based on research from 2017/2018. The continuity of banking services in the Caribbean Netherlands was under pressure due to the limited scale and insular nature, particularly on St. Eustatius and Saba”, according to Hoekstra

According to the Minister, Electronic payment transactions also did not function satisfactorily in the Caribbean Netherlands and between the Caribbean and European Netherlands.

“These signals have led me, together with my colleagues from the Interior and Kingdom Relations and Economic Affairs, to look more closely in recent months at the current level of banking services in the Caribbean Netherlands and whether additional measures are required in this regard”.

Internet banking

The Minister also points out that a special point of attention of Dutch Parliament was the possibility of internet banking on the islands. “Internet banking has the potential to increase the convenience for consumers and to lower the costs for banks. It is encouraging to note that the sector has since made significant improvements. Banks are now active on each of the three islands that offer online banking options”, according to Hoekstra. The minister also points to the fact that a comparison shows that the costs of internet banking compared to the disposable income in Caribbean Netherlands are not substantially higher than is the case in European Netherlands.

Stable minimum level

The minister concludes in his letter to the Second Chamber that there currently a ‘stable minimum level of banking services’ in Caribbean Netherlands. The minister does promise that he will remain alert, together with the regulators (Dutch Central Bank and Autoriteit Financiele Markten AFM, editor) for possible further improvements in banking services on Bonaire St. Eustatius and Saba.

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