Concerned about media reports confirming that many on Bonaire live far below the poverty line, the Labour Party in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament has sought clarity from government. Members of the Second Chamber Roelof van Laar and Tunahan Kuzu, both PvdA, on Wednesday submitted written questions to State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment Jetta Klijnsma and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk about a recent report of the Dutch National Institute for Family Finance Information Nibud on poverty in Bonaire. This was reported in The Daily Herald.
Nibud was asked by the Bonaire Government to guide the process to draft so-called minimum example budgets for families on the island. Minimum example budgets indicate the minimum amount that people with a minimum income need for basic needs. Nibud also drafts these budgets in the Netherlands where government uses them for social policies.
Nibud calculated that a single woman in Bonaire needs a minimum income of US $1,472 per month to survive. The minimum wage in Bonaire is US $4.63 per hour, which means that a person earns a minimum monthly wage of US $802.48 for a 40 hour workweek. This means that a single woman with a minimum wage comes up US $670 short per month.
A single mother with one child needs US $1,864 per month to survive, a single mother with two children US $2,269, a couple with one child US $2,291 and a couple with two children needs US $2,863 to cover their basic needs.
Considering the high cost of living on Bonaire and the relatively low wages, the Nibud report confirmed what many have already been saying for a while: a large part of the people on Bonaire is living in poverty. The increasing prices since the island became a Dutch public entity per October 10, 2010, have made things worse.
Members of Parliament Van Laar and Kuzu want the state secretary and the minister to send the Nibud report to the Second Chamber, along with a reaction of government. They also asked Klijnsma and Plasterk whether the findings in the Nibud report were a reason to adapt their point of view on poverty on Bonaire. According to Van Laar and Kuzu, the Nibud report painted a far more serious picture than the state secretary did in her letter of December last year in which she stated that “poverty was a daily reality for many inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands.”
In that letter Klijnsma also remarked that the situation varied per island, which prompted Van Laar and Kuzu to ask whether the Nibud report provided new information on the poverty issue in St. Eustatius and Saba. Or is additional research necessary for these islands, they added. The MPs further wanted to know whether and how the 600,000 euros that the state secretary is making available on an annual basis to combat poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands is being spent.
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