Minister Schouten wraps up visit to Saba

Minister Schouten during her meeting with the Executive Council. Photo: Public Entity Saba

THE BOTTOM- Dutch Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Poverty Policy, Participation and Pension Carola Schouten on Monday wrapped up what she called a successful visit to Saba.  

Schouten visited many places, took note of Saba’s beauty, but also acknowledged the island’s challenges and the people’s struggles.

Minister Schouten arrived on Saba Sunday late afternoon. The following morning, she first visited The Garden at The Level where she spoke with Saba Reach Director Lonneke Schut and Manager Sam Fredericks about the workings, plans and challenges of the agricultural social workplace.

In a meeting with the Executive Council, the Minister and her delegation talked about social allowances, a higher minimum wage, the excessive cost of living, the poverty issues that many people face and the lack of affordable housing. These same topics came up in a subsequent meeting with the Island Council. 


Councilman Vito Charles and Council lady Esmeralda Johnson explained how poverty affects people and what it does with families. “Some 65 percent of the people in the Caribbean Netherlands live in poverty. That is unacceptable. Things were supposed to get better since 2010. There have been improvements, but people expected the standard of living to go up, and that did not happen,” said Charles. 

“Many children don’t have both parents at home. That impacts not only their daily life but also their opportunities in life. The causes of poverty really need to be addressed, and not just the symptoms,” said Johnson.

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