photo: John Samson

The Hague – The Government of the Netherlands has received an additional two years to determine the minimum amount of money a person needs to survive in one of the Caribbean municipalities. This left the inhabitants of the islands disappointed and bewildered.

‘This can’t be explained’, says Nina den Heyer (MPB), a former representative from Bonaire. She had already made this issue known to the previous government. According to the former representative the credibility of the Hague is starting to crumble.

“If you don’t even know what the minimum you need to survive is, how can you determine the amounts of the social securities and the minimum wage?”

‘Not being treated equally’
‘Baffling’, that’s what former representative Koos Sneek (DP) from Statia thinks of the situation. “As long as the social minimum has not been determined, people will feel that they are not being treated equally.”

The Government of the Netherlands is being criticized by the current Governments of Bonaire and Saba, even though it announced measures to tackle poverty. The National Ombudsman and the College for Human Rights have also made their concerns known to the government.

Motion didn’t get a majority vote
A motion entered into Parliament by SP and Groenlinks to determine the social minimum by using existing reports, did not get the majority it needed to pass. “I had hoped that at least one of the coalition parties would be bold enough to vote for it”, says Den Heyer.

Den Heyer says it’s ‘another delay tactic’ and thinks that the coalition parties CDA, D66, and ChristenUnie yielded to pressure exerted by the VVD. “I am extremely disappointed that a country that finds human- and children’s rights extremely important, refuses to tackle this issue.”

“This coalition has a lot of experience making unpopular decisions. Think about the  dividend-tax affair. Billions! Lowering poverty in the special municipalities seems like a noble cause compared to that”, says Den Heyer.

‘The Hague has to hurry up’
Sneek finds it extremely hard that coalition party CDA, which he’s a member of, doesn’t want to speed up the process to determine the social minimum. “I have to let inhabitants know why it has once again not been determined.”

The former representative was in the Hague last week to speak to members of Parliament about the situation on Statia. Sneek (DP) is also worried about support for the Hague on his island. “It’s starting to take too long for some people.”

The Hague has to make haste when it comes to big projects and helping the economy on Statia warns Sneek (DP). He’s pleading for a reduction in the price of electricity, internet, phone services, and transportation services on the island. “These are things you have a grip on as the government.”