photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE – The fact that members of parliament on Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten want to surrender a portion of their salaries is ‘a nice gesture’. “But a lot more has to happen”, according to state secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations).

Politicians on all of the three autonomous islands believe that they also have to make sacrifices, because inhabitants will face major cuts brought on by the corona crisis. Knops wants other exorbitant incomes paid out through the government to be a thing of the past.

Political correspondent John Samson talking to state secretary Knops

If it’s up to the Dutch government, it will be ‘a thing of the past’ that officials on the islands earn exorbitant salaries. Especially now that the Netherlands is being asked for financial support, is the opinion of the Hague.

Exorbitant salaries on the islands a thing of the past?
“It is unacceptable that on the one hand people don’t have food and on the other hand people can earn these kinds of salaries for work done on relatively small islands”, says Knops.

It’s not just about the politicians’ salaries, but if it’s up to the Dutch government also the salaries at the government companies and the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

The ‘sky-high’ salaries have led to annoyance in the Hague for years. The state secretary hopes that the islands address this by making ‘clear statements, coming up with new legislation and bringing these to a vote’.

Sint Maarten meets the Hague’s demands
Ministers and members of parliament on Sint Maarten will surrender 10 percent of their salaries. The reduction will take effect as per April 1st and was proposed by the minister of Finance Ardwell Irion.

The lowering of salaries has been a requirement from the Dutch government for some time now in exchange for liquidity support. By agreeing to it, the island could count on financial aid last Friday.

Curaçaoan parliamentarians surrender salary temporarily
On Curaçao parliament decided to temporarily surrender 10 percent of their own salary. For now this reduction will only be applied over the months of May, June, and July.

The government of Curaçao wants to introduce a ‘solidarity tax’. The ministers and members of parliament will be the first to surrender a portion of their salaries. Next to that the possibility of expanding this to other public servants and the directors of government companies is being investigated.

The government of prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath is still working on the proposal. After that the proposal will be sent to parliament for a vote.

Aruba lags behind
A political discussion is also happening on Aruba about how much and for how long politicians will have to surrender a portion of their salaries. Coalition parties MEP and RED have already presented a motion.
The plan of the coalition members calls for members of parliament to surrender 10 percent of their salaries. Their bonus which usually gets paid out in June will also be rescinded.

A motion entered into parliament by Alan Howell (POR) and Daphne Lejuez (independent) for the surrender of 1.000 Aruban florins per month for the upcoming three months by members of parliament, failed.