After having published about the letter sent by the Executive Council of Statia, the Daily Herald writes that also the Executive Council of Saba expressed its concern about the recent increase in consular tariffs for work permits in a similar letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders.
Minister Koenders announced on December 15, 2014, that the consular tariffs in Caribbean Netherlands would be adjusted to the level in the European part of the Netherlands per January 1. For a regular employee on paid employment (arbeid in loondienst) the consular tariff is going up from US $372 to $788, an unprecedented increase of 112 per cent, without prior consultations with any stakeholder on the island, it was stated.
Saba’s platform for economic stakeholders, the E- Team, in consultation with 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 would have a major financial impact, it was said.
The explanation given for the increase is that the tariffs are being adjusted to the tariffs in the European Netherlands. In the letter to the Minister, the Executive Council wrote: “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 [pension-Ed.] for example, is much lower for citizens in Caribbean Netherlands than 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.”
The Executive Council of St. Eustatius, the Chamber of Commerce for Statia and Saba and St. Eustatius Business Association STEBA sent a joint letter to also complain about the increase in consular tariffs.