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3rd Tuesday in September: Government presents draft budget

The Hague – Traditionally, on the 3rd of September the Dutch government presents its draft budget to the Second Chamber. Contrary to former years when Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba had their place in the budget of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, these islands are now part of The Netherlands since 10-10-’10, so each Dutch ministry includes expenditures in the relevant policy field on behalf of the Caribbean Netherlands in its own budget.

Finance minister Kees de Jager presents the budget to the Second Chamber

Education
When it comes to education, improvement means are being used to increase the learning performance of pupils at all schools in the Caribbean Netherlands “to an acceptable level according to Dutch standards,” the budget explanation states. “It involves incidental investments and provisions that cannot be paid from the lump sum (yet). A large part of the budget is allocated to improving education buildings. “In addition, there is structurally a limited budget available for cooperation with Curaçao, St. Maarten and Aruba, meant to improve provisions in the region, partly for the benefit of the residents of the Caribbean Netherlands.” Secondary professional education offered in Bonaire is also available in St. Eustatius and Saba as of August 1 this year .

In the years 2012 through 2014 the institutions will also receive means to start vocational training in the islands Saba and St. Eustatius and improve this on all three islands, according to the budget. For the coming period a dedicated  educational agenda has been drawn up for the Caribbean Netherlands. Every year the parties concerned will evaluate and if necessary adjust the progress. The Dutch Inspectorate monitors education quality in the islands. The reports on its findings will be included in the evaluation process, while the First and Second Chambers of the Dutch Parliament will be informed on the main points.

Medical Care
Regarding medical care, wellbeing and youth care in the Caribbean Netherlands, improvements to the medical care purchasing process, administration of the collectively insured and administrative management will continue in 2013.  Improvement of medical infrastructure such as buildings and equipment is mostly part of the quality projects. Realisation of these plans will gradually take shape in 2013 and the following years as part of the normal management of the various local medical care institutions.

To set up and support the implementation of psychiatry including the care for and treatment of drug addicts on the three islands, Novadic Kentron will provide the necessary provisions in 2013 and 2014. To prevent fragmentation and maximise efficiency there will be an attempt to connect with other medical care facilities, justice, prevention and education, as well as care for the slightly intellectually handicapped. It will also be considered whether cooperation with
other islands in the Caribbean area is desired or possible. In 2013 attention will be paid to youth care and continuing the current progress. Ambulant and residential youth care in Bonaire will continue to develop and foster care will be organised more structurally.

The quality of the Centres for Youth and Family in Saba and St. Eustatius and their promotion among the population will be improved. In cooperation with the Inspection Youth Care the quality framework will be determined and further
developed. A suitable form of organisation will be sought for all components of youth care and family guardianship in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The Law on public health was adjusted to the new public administration relationship with Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Parallel to this, reinforcement of the public health sector will be supported.  Attention will also be paid to prevention and control of infectious diseases in the Caribbean Netherlands. A suitable offering of medical care and youth care will be realised. There has been medical insurance for everyone in the Caribbean Netherlands as of January 1, 2011. This means that all who reside and/or work legally in Bonaire, St. Eustatius or Saba, irrespective of their health and age, are insured for medical and nursing cost, which is funded in the European part of The Netherlands under the Dutch Health Insurance Act Zvw – including part of the supplemental insurances – and Dutch health care law AWBZ. The total estimated cost involved with care and wellbeing in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2013 amounts to approximately 92 million dollars with some 6.1 million dollars available for youth care. All three islands have a Centre for Youth and Family.

Electricity Supply
Concerning reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity supply in the Caribbean Netherlands, the ministry supports the switch to new, self-supporting electricity companies in Saba and St. Eustatius by 2013 at the latest with, among other things, the deployment of a transition manager. The endeavour of the Government of Bonaire to straighten out the electricity supply is supported by a ministry audit on water and electricity company WEB. Meanwhile, people are also working on a regulatory framework for the electricity supply in all islands, to be implemented in 2013.

The Dutch Government offers residents of the Caribbean Netherlands income support based on Social Allowance and where necessary, re-integration assistance. The increase in expenditures as of 2013 is due to the underlying volume development, while the benefit amount was adjusted for inflation. Inflation in 2011, allowing for indexation of the amounts in 2012, was 5.9 per cent in Bonaire, 11.2 per cent in St. Eustatius and 6.6 per cent in Saba. The benefit burdens will
nevertheless decrease in 2012 due to subsequent payments made in 2011.

Social allowances
Re-integration funds for the Caribbean Netherlands amount to 0.26 million euros. For 2013 and the following years it will be considered whether the available means can be bundled and made available through various departments. Employees in the Caribbean Netherlands will be offered an income benefit if they suffer a work-related accident. In that case the benefit is coupled to the last salary of the employee. The Social Affairs and Employment SZW unit at National Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN is responsible for implementing this regulation. The contribution to implementation cost is accounted for under Article 98. Based on the Accident Insurance, employees who are declared completely or partially incapacitated will receive a benefit.

Residents of the Caribbean Netherlands who are dismissed through no fault of their own will receive dismissal compensation based on the Cessantia Law, to be paid by the employer. Government assumes this obligation in case of a bankruptcy or moratorium on payments.

Source: The Daily Herald, September 20, 2012

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