KRALENDIJK – Consumer organization Unkobon warns that high fuel prices are causing electricity usage rates to increase by as much as 30% effective July 1. Because WEB sends the bills for electricity use two months later, consumers will not see the consequences until September. Unkobon expects that many households on Bonaire will no longer be able to pay the bill. Houses whose bills are not paid will be disconnected.
Poverty Minister Carola Schouten has offered to help incomes up to 120% of the theoretical benchmark social minimum with a one-time subsidy of $850. However, the minister’s theoretical benchmark is much lower than the actual subsistence minimum. With the minister’s criterion, many households on Bonaire with incomes below the subsistence minimum will not receive assistance, while in the European part of the Netherlands, households with incomes up to 120% of the subsistence minimum are eligible. Unkobon pleaded with the minister for a higher income limit to qualify for the subsidy because the cost of living is much higher than the benchmark used by the minister.
Deputy Den Heyer also wants to start using the actual cost of living as the income limit for the subsidy.
OLB and WEB are already preparing to process the subsidy for eligible households in a timely manner. Commissioner Den Heijer commented, “We try to get as many people in the picture as possible in advance and then automatically give them the subsidy, but the households we don’t get in the picture will have to apply.”
Unkobon expects that not only the minima, but also the middle groups will have problems with the high bills for electricity. If incomes on Bonaire are not adjusted to the large price increases, the poverty problem will only get worse.