BES politicians sceptical on plans to fight poverty

Politicians on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (so-called BES) doubt whether there is enough politi­cal will in the Netherlands to combat poverty on the islands. An investigative committee recommended to increase the minimum wage and benefits in the Caribbean, “Seeing is be­lieving,” was the first reaction of councillor Clyde van Putten of Statia governing party PLP, according to the Dutch ANP news agency.

The report of the Social Minimum Committee Caribbean Netherlands (see related story) states that many residents work hard on the islands, but still cannot make ends meet. About 11,000 people live here below the poverty line, or one in three. From 2025, the government in The Hague will invest 32 mil­lion euros extra in poverty reduction on the islands; in 2024 this will amount to 30 million.

It is unclear whether this is enough to implement the committee’s recommendations. Outgoing Minister Carola Schouten of Poverty Policy has promised to make an assess­ment of this quickly.

Van Putten points out that similar findings have been report­ed in several reports over the past thirteen years stood. “Despite these reports, there was never the political willing­ness in the Netherlands to actually do something about pov­erty in the Caribbean Netherlands. I’m not convinced either that there is now a willingness,” added Van Putten

Opposition leader Clark Abraham in Bonaire, has the same opinion. “40% of the population lives on Bonaire below the poverty line for years. There is now a third report on this and the question is: when will action be taken?”

Research shows that a much smaller part of the Dutch pop­ulation lives in poverty. The Island Council member believes that the minimum wage, old age benefit and social assistance must be increased. He hopes that this topic will remain on the political agenda despite next month’s elections in the Netherlands.

Commissioner Bruce Zagers of Saba has a more positive view. “There is now real momentum to get something done and there is also money available.” He believes that the current outgoing cabinet also has an eye for the problems. “We don’t know what the outcome of the November elections will mean for the islands,” the politician notes.

The Daily Herald.

Saba's U23 Male National Volleyball Team is gearing up for the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association's U23 Male Championship in BVI
11,000 residents of BES living below poverty line

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Saba News