CDA asks about high food prices on islands

THE HAGUE–The Christian Democratic Party CDA wants to know whether there is an agriculture and/or food policy for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to curb the high food prices and trade deficit on the islands.

CDA Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Mustafa Amhaouch and Jaco Geurts on Tuesday sent a number of written questions to State Secretary of Economic Affairs Martijn van Dam and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) sought clarity following a release of the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) of February 21 which stated that the trade deficit in Bonaire had increased and that the trade deficit in St. Eustatius and Saba had decreased. The islands have a structural trade deficit because the import of goods is higher than the export. St. Eustatius has a trade deficit of US $35 million and Saba US $16 million.

Amhaouch and Geurts asked the State Secretary and Minister whether they acknowledged that the trade deficit was caused by the fact that the islands are not self-sufficient where it concerns the food supply and that the poverty on the islands is partly caused by the high prices of food.

The MPs inquired whether there is a policy for agriculture and food for the Caribbean Netherlands. “If not, why not? If so, can you concretely indicate what that policy is, which objectives have been set and what means are available for the execution of this policy?”

Amhaouch and Geurts wanted to know whether having the islands acquire the status of Ultra Peripheral Territory (UPT) of the European Union (EU) could pose a possible solution for the high food prices in the Caribbean Netherlands. They mentioned the EU programmes to support food security and agriculture.

The MPs asked whether Van Dam and Plasterk were willing to consult the Governments of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba about the possibility of securing a UPT status or to look at other possible solutions for the high food prices and to increase agriculture.

Source: The Daily Herald