The subsidy for internet connections in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will continue until mid-2022, Dutch caretaker Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Stef Blok announced on Monday.
In a letter that he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, Blok explained that the decision-taking about the continuation or termination of the subsidy for internet connections was up to the next Dutch government.
However, until a new government takes over in The Hague, it was decided to maintain the current arrangement whereby inter-net users in St. Eustatius and Saba receive a monthly discount of US $35 and US $25 in Bonaire.
The minister stated that he considered it “prudent” to extend the support by half a year. “This way, the current situation will be maintained, and the residents of the islands will know what they can expect while waiting for a more structural decision-taking about the combating of poverty by the new government,” Blok stated.
The continuation of the internet connection subsidy until the middle of next year will cost the Dutch government 1.5 million euros. The subsidy was introduced in May 2020 as a form of assistance for the islands during the coronavirus crisis. Initially, it was decided to stop the subsidy for internet connections per December 31, 2021.
The Dutch government will stick to its earlier decision to terminate the subsidy of the fixed tariff of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands per January 1, 2022, even though the energy prices will increase, just as they are in the rest of the world.
The Hague will allocate 2 million euros to mitigate the high energy prices, but this will not entirely compensate people’s higher electricity bills. The 2 million euros compensation will not be applicable to larger businesses. However, these businesses receive a structural subsidy for the fixed tariff of electricity so it is equal to the level in the Netherlands.
This week, the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament will handle the 2022 draft budget for Economic Affairs and Climate. It is expected that the high energy prices and the possible subsidising of electricity and water on the three islands will be discussed.
During the handling of the 2022 draft budget for Kingdom Relations last month, Member of Parliament (MP) Don Ceder of the ChristianUnion (CU) had enquired about the subsidies for electricity, water and telecommunications in the Caribbean Netherlands.
The Daily Herald.