photo: Ronald A. Muyden

KRALENDIJK – The State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment (SZW), Tamara van Ark hopes to present a timeline for whether or not the research into the determination of the social minimum for Bonaire, Statia, and Saba (BES) can be sped up or not, before the summer.

The head of Social Affairs and Employment says that she was ‘moved’ by the conversations about poverty on Bonaire, like the one she had with a young lady who was in a car accident and can’t work anymore. “She showed me her house. I noticed that she was very proud of what she had and that she had cleaned her house really well. But I could also see that she lived in poverty.”

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By Ronald A. Muyden (English subtitles available

“We’re having a discussion about the social minimum: a social minimum which couldn’t be determined last year. What I would like to do, in consultation with the Senate and House of Representatives and encouraged by the discussion here, is to look at the possibility of presenting a progress report in the summer that can give some perspective on the timeline we’re looking at here.”

Van Ark is visiting Bonaire for the first time, accompanying State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, both of whom arrived last week. The head of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) says that she came ‘with a lot of questions and homework’. Fighting poverty and childcare were two of the main reasons for her to come on this trip, according to Van Ark.

State Secretary Tamara van Ark, Gezaghebber Edison Rijna and State Secretary Raymond Knops. Picture: Ronald A. Muyden

Proper childcare
Van Ark signed a declaration of intent for the BES(t) 4 Kids program to ensure that childcare becomes available on the BES islands. Childcare, after school care, and schools will receive financial aid from the local governments till 2022. After 2022 the Kingdom Government will directly finance these organizations.

From January 1st the Kingdom Government has lowered the employer’s social security contributions to five percent. The wages should go up due to this. “I hope that the employers pass the savings on to their employees. I think it’s important that we all contribute in the fight against poverty, but we also have to increase the purchasing power of individuals so that everyone benefits.” The public sector will definitely be doing this, according to Van Ark.