The setting of benchmarks for social minima in the Caribbean Netherlands (see related story) is important. After all, this has been an issue practically from the moment Bonaire. St. Eustatius and Saba (the so-called BES) became special public entities of the Netherlands.

Their respective amounts for a single adult of US $945, $1,056 and $1,077 per month may not be what everyone had hoped for, but it’s certainly a start. The fact is that some residents currently don’t earn that much, which in effect means they are living in poverty.

Tackling such will require both higher incomes on the one hand and a lower cost of living on the other, it was stated. The Dutch government for its part intends to further increase the minimum wages and child allowance as of 2020, based on the standards now established.

It must be said, many on the three islands experienced more difficulty making ends meet after the constitutional reforms within the kingdom per 10-10-10. This was especially due to the conversion from the Antillean guilder to the US dollar as their official currency.

At the same time, efforts have been taking place ever since to address this problem. The minimum wages and several social benefits were already adapted per January 1 of this year, while the employers’ contribution was reduced so they could raise salaries.
When it comes to bringing down living expenses, more social housing and rent regulation can indeed make a major difference. Keeping the price of tap water and telecommunications services affordable is another factor.

So, it appears the three smallest islands of the Dutch Caribbean are on the right track where the population’s future wellbeing is concerned. If all goes well, their change of status nine years ago should ultimately turn out to be in favour of the people.