Final appeal to the House of Representatives for establishing an acceptable minimum subsistence level for the residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba !!!!!

To the members of the House of Representatives 

Bonaire, September 25, 2018

Dear members of the Lower House,

Tomorrow, 26 September 2018, a plenary debate is planned on the Caribbean Netherlands Existence Minimum. We urgently ask your attention for the following.
The planned measures by the government to reduce the gap between the incomes and the minimum necessary cost of living on the BES islands are a guarantee for a permanently gigantic poverty problem in the short and medium term.
The level of the minimum wage is leading in a large number of the planned measures. The proposed concrete measures, no matter how commendable compared to those of the previous governments, offer only a drop in the ocean.
For example, for a working single parent with 1 child on Bonaire, an amount of $ 1,910 per month has been calculated for the minimum cost of living. The minimum wage is $ 825 per month. With the child benefit of $ 40 per month, the income is $ 865. The gap between monthly income and expenditure is $ 1,076 in 2018. Next year that gap will be smaller. The 5% increase in the minimum wage yields $ 41.25 per month and the increase in child benefit is $ 20. The gap between income and expenditure of $ 1,076 is reduced to $ 1,015. The government calls this a “significant step”. • The benefits of AOW and benefits are linked to this “meaningful step”.
The introduction of the other announced measures to improve the position of the working single parent depends on the abilities of local government, but also on the praises of national government. If we continue at this rate, it will take 15 to 20 years before the gap is bridged.
The government’s duty of care for the population’s security of life and the spread of prosperity is a constitutional (article 20 paragraph 1 GW) task of the government. The government can not avoid the implementation of this duty of care. The population can not and should not suffer from the quality of local government. That does not happen in the European Netherlands either. It is the government’s duty to intervene if it is of the opinion that local government is wrong. Looking into the mirror, this government might qualify itself for not fulfilling this duty of care as inadequate proper management.
The use of situations in which families are forced to pay housing costs (see the report on the regional plan on matrifocal multi-generation family patterns and other survival mechanisms) as an argument for not setting a minimum social level, shows a questionable conception of good governance by the Dutch government itself.
Cabinet members use the most non-valid arguments. For example, the population would have insufficient absorptive capacity. We can assure you that the population of the BES islands is more than capable of absorbing three healthy meals per day. Families are also sufficiently able to absorb decent living space and a minimum necessary use of water and electricity. A large part of the population lacks income for the provision of basic necessities of life, not absorption capacity – whatever that may be.
Given the reactions of the secretaries of state in the Kingdom Relations Committee, this government will have to be forced by the Lower House to take meaningful steps to combat poverty on the BES islands.
We therefore urge the House of Representatives to confirm the motion of 2016 and to ask the government to set a legal social minimum on the basis of the now sufficiently well-known minimum necessary cost of living. In addition, we recommend that you instruct the government to bridge the gap between minimum income and social minimum with a concrete implementation plan in a real and meaningful way within the foreseeable future.

Saludo kordial – Sincerely – Kind regards

Eric Booi, Chairman Consumentenbond Unkobon