THE HAGUE–The major damage to the Windward Islands caused by last year’s hurricanes was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne read by King Willem Alexander on Tuesday, but the attention was limited to two lines.
“The reconstruction of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba has a high priority after the two devastating hurricanes in 2017. More than 600 million euros is made available for this in the coming years,” the King said, referring to the 550 million euros for St. Maarten’s recovery process and 67 million for St. Eustatius and Saba. Last year, the King made ample mention of the hurricanes and the detrimental effects on the people of the Windward Islands.
This year’s Speech from the Throne at the Hall of Knights, during which the King traditionally elaborates on the Dutch government’s plans on the occasion of the opening of the Parliamentary year and Budget Day, also contained some news for the Caribbean Netherlands in relation to poverty alleviation.
“In Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the Dutch government takes concrete measures to reduce poverty. The employer’s contribution will be lowered by five per cent, as a result of which the minimum wage and the social allowances can increase by five per cent.”
The King also mentioned the 30 million euros that is being made available for the Caribbean Netherlands through the so-called Regional Envelope to reduce poverty and to invest in infrastructure and economic development.
Aruba and Curaçao were not forgotten. “The Dutch government is working on concrete improvements with the governments of Curaçao and Aruba; for example, by getting more Dutch companies interested in investing in Curaçao and by supporting youth welfare work in Aruba.”
Furthermore, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard has a crucial role in controlling migration flow and law enforcement, stated the King. “In this manner we keep giving content to a Kingdom in which we support each other.”