Politicians in the Dutch Caribbean have reluctantly agreed to spending reductions and reforms to qualify for €370 million in financial support from the European Netherlands:
- 25-percent cut in the salaries of politicians.
- 12.5-percent cut in the salaries of other public-sector workers.
- Capping public-sector wages at 130 percent of the prime minister’s salary. (Such an income limit already exists in the European Netherlands.)
- 20-percent contribution from firms to wage subsidies for the unemployed.
- Oversight from the Dutch Central Bank in the financial industry of the islands.
With their tourism-dependent economies in free fall due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease, the leaders of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten felt they had no choice but to agree to what Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath of Curaçao called “unrealistic demands” and John Leerdam, a former Labor Party politician, who was born on Curaçao, called a “diktat” from The Hague.
But the terms (which do not apply to emergency food and health-care aid) still fall short of the more thorough and long-term reforms Dutch governments, of the left and right, have advised for years, in some cases decades:
- Changes in the tax law, so the wealthy pay a bigger share.
- Improvements in tax collection.
- Diversification of the economy to make the islands less dependent on tourism and oil. Read more “Dutch Terms for Caribbean Support Are Reasonable”