The Dutch Government in March 2020 decided to implement a package with emergency measures for the Caribbean Netherlands which are aimed at keeping people employed and to offer financial support to employees, self-employed persons and businesses that are facing acute income issues.
The ‘Temporary subsidy arrangement wage costs and income loss CN’ (‘Tijdelijke subsidieregeling loonkosten en inkomensverlies CN’) has been implemented and works retroactive until March 13 when the air space was closed in Bonaire. The Social Affairs and Labor SZW unit of the National Department Caribbean Netherlands RCN has been put in charge of executing this subsidy regulation.
Wage and revenue loss
An entrepreneur who is facing a turn-over loss of at least 20 per cent, and as a result of this situation cannot keep personnel at work, can apply for a compensation for a period of three months to cover wage costs. The compensation is 80 per cent of the maximized daily wage and can be applied for at the RCN-unit SZW. For efficiency purposes, it was decided to have the process run parallel to the Caribbean Netherlands health insurance regulation, the ZV BES. Entrepreneurs making use of this emergency arrangement are obliged to keep their personnel and to pay them their full salary. The emergency regulation also applies to employees with a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.
Additional support for self-employed persons and dismissed persons
A temporary arrangement has been put in place to support self-employed persons to cover their most urgent expenditures so they can continue to operate afterwards. Self-employed persons who have lost their income can apply for a compensation that supplements their income up to 80 per cent of the legal minimum wage. The applicant on Saba has to show that his or her income has dropped below US $907. The income will be supplemented to this level. The Dutch Government is not planning to temporarily increase the minimum wage because that can have a detrimental effect on the local economy and labor market.
Persons who already lost their job due to the corona crisis can also make use of the subsidy arrangement. The dismissed person can receive 80 per cent of the maximized daily wage at the time of discharge or the termination of the temporary contract. Persons can apply for social welfare (‘onderstand’) in certain cases.
The Public Entity may, when this proves necessary, provide additional support by offering compensation for expenditures that the household cannot carry. As part of the emergency measures, the Dutch Government has made additional funding available for the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba so they can help to soften the blow for vulnerable persons in the community.
The island government has set up a virtual help desk to guide persons that may need help in the process to apply for financial support, or to answer questions that people may have. An application form can be downloaded through https://www.rijksdienstcn.com/covid-19 by clicking on “Emergency regulation SZW” in the left upper corner.
People who need assistance with filling out the application or persons who can’t access the application form can contact the help desk by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org
The measures for liquidity support for entrepreneurs will also apply for the Caribbean Netherlands. The possibility of temporarily deferring payments will be introduced for entrepreneurs that have liquidity problems due to the corona crisis. Entrepreneurs can ask the Tax Office for a deferral of payment.
The temporary facility for middle and small entrepreneurs of the Netherlands will be extended to the Caribbean Netherlands. The financing credit for entrepreneurs, including those in the agricultural and fisheries sector, will broadened. Additional information about this facility will be provided through the Chamber of Commerce.