photo: Hazel Durand

THE BOTTOM – Koos Sneek, former Island Council Member on St. Eustatius’ Democratic Party, now the 49th candidate on the Christian Democratic Party (CDA) in the Netherlands, held a meet and greet on Saba this past Thursday and Friday. He spoke one on one with residents about CDA’s campaign for the BES islands in the upcoming second chamber elections.

Sneek was asked by the CDA to join its party. According to Sneek the CDA is the only political party in the Netherlands that has a candidate from the BES islands.

CDA’s plan for Saba
Sneek said the CDA has the aim to stimulate economic development on Saba. “We need to make it easier for businesses to develop and grow.”

He said the island needs to offer more incentives to encourage outside companies to invest. Now a day we don’t have profit tax for businesses, but this alone is not enough to attract business to the islands. For example if a business wants to invest on the islands they have to pay ABB already before they make any money. Something needs to be done.”

“As well the double taxation; you pay the turnover tax in St. Maarten and then you have to pay ABB on top of that. A solution needs to be found for this”, said Sneek.

Sneek said because the islands rely immensely on foreign labor, the immigration policies for the BES islands needs to be reassessed.

“In The Hague they still fail to understand our labor market. We cannot do without foreign labor. It doesn’t mean that they need to come in and take over the jobs from the locals, but there are a lot of businesses that rely on workers from outside. It is too complicated to bring them in.”

He said it is sometimes even difficult for a resident of one the BES islands to enter another island in the BES. “I travelled within the BES and they stamp my passport as if I’m entering a foreign country.”

Commenting on the efforts to alleviate poverty within the BES, Sneek said his party recognizes that there are a number of improvements that can be made concerning social benefits for the islands. “For instance the old age pension, I think we all agree that it is not enough to sustain oneself as a senior citizen.”

He said tackling poverty has its complexities and the CDA outlines in its party’s manifesto, means to strengthen the economy and infrastructure together with poverty alleviation. “You cannot just increase the social benefits; give people more money without strengthening the economy. We need more jobs and better paying jobs”, Sneek stressed.