The Executive Council of Saba in a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders expressed their concerns about the recent increase in consular tariffs for work permits. Minister Koenders announced on December 15th 2014 that the consular tariffs in Caribbean Netherlands will be adjusted to the level in the European part of the Netherlands per January 1st 2015. For a regular employee ‘arbeid in loondienst’, the consular tariff is going up from $372 to $788, an unprecedented raise of 112%, without prior consultations of any stakeholder on the island.
The E-team, Saba’s platform for economic stakeholders, in consultation with the the Executive Council pointed out the expected negative economic consequences of such a drastic increase. On a small island like Saba, many employees, such as teachers, cooks, dive instructors, registered nurses and certain workers in the retail industry, are not readily available on the local labour market, and therefore have to be attracted from abroad. For many small businesses and institutions operating within already small margins this will have a major financial impact.
The explanation given for the increase is that the tariffs are being adjusted to the tariffs in the European part of the Netherlands. In the letter to the minister he Executive Council in its response states, “that this is a way of reasoning the Dutch government doesn’t always adhere to when setting tariffs and allowances for Caribbean Netherlands. The AOV-allowance for example, is much lower for citizens in Caribbean Netherlands then for citizens in the European part of the Netherlands, because of the many differences between Caribbean and European Netherlands. The Executive Council therefore requests the Minister to either withdraw the raise in consular tariffs, or adjust the AOV to the level in the European Netherlands accordingly.”
Press release Saba GIS, January 6, 2015