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Dutch funds to limit high energy tariffs in Bonaire

THE HAGUE–The Dutch Government is contributing up to 7.8 million euros to limit the excessive increase of electricity and drinking water tariffs in Bonaire to 15 to 20 per cent.



Caretaker State Secretary of Infrastructure and Environment Joop Atsma

informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Monday that the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation and Agriculture EL&I and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment I&M are willing to contribute a maximum bridging contribution of respectively 5.5 million euros and 2.3 million euros to limit the tariff increase.

The bridging contribution, which is being funded through the Ministries’ own budget, serves as an interim solution in anticipation of legislation to secure “efficient, cost-effective and affordable” energy and drinking water tariffs and sewerage levy, explained Atsma. Because this legislation trajectory, coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom relations, will take some time, Atsma and his colleague Maxime Verhagen of Economic Affairs, Innovation and Agriculture have decided to come up with a bridging contribution.

Bonaire’s Executive Council, National Government Representative (Rijksvertegenwordiger) Wilbert Stolte and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations had asked Atsma and Verhagen to ensure that energy and drinking water tariffs and the sewerage levy would be realised in an efficient, cost-effective and affordable manner. Without the support of the Ministries of EL&I and I&M, the energy and water tariffs would have increased by 50 and 60 per cent respectively. “This would mean that households in Bonaire, of which the average income is less than half than that of the general Dutch level, would have to pay four times as much per cubic metre for water in comparison to what a Dutch household pays,” stated Atsma. “The majority of households and companies in Bonaire cannot afford these prices. It will also bring risks for public health. The increase of energy prices would also have direct consequences for the operating cost of waste water treatment and the amount of the sewerage levy,” stated Atsma in response to written questions by Members of Parliament André Bosman and René Leegte of the conservative VVD party.

Bosman and Leegte not only asked about the looming excessive increase of energy and water tariffs, but also sought clarity on reports that The Netherlands was making an additional 10 million euros available for the sewerage project in Bonaire. Atsma confirmed that the Dutch Government was indeed making 10 million euros available for this project, which he said was in line with a pledge to the First Chamber of the Dutch parliament, the 2008 guarantee of The Netherlands for this project and the expectations of the European Committee regarding the role of The Netherlands in said project. The additional 10 million euros came on top of the 35 million euros that had already been allocated for the project.

Bosman and Leegte asked the reason for this additional funding. Atsma explained that timely connections of households, companies and hotels to the sewerage system were necessary. The additional funds serve to help cover the high expenses of connecting households, companies and hotels to the sewerage system. Besides the fact that these costs were too high for many households, there was also the private sector to take into consideration. In some cases it would involve investments by the private sector of several 100,000 euros, which in turn could result in bankruptcy of companies. That is why Atsma promised the First Chamber that the sewerage levy and connection would be affordable. “This contribution
prevents financial damage to the sewerage and waste water treatment system, which can run up to 24.5 million euros if the system literally runs dry early 2013 due to the lack of waste water.”

Source The Daily Herald, October 2, 2012

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