Funds to Improve Infrastructure in Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba


Calling on The Hague to provide financial support, National Government Representative for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba Wilbert Stolte supports more investments in the islands’ infrastructure. He calls for improvement of roads and harbours, as well as development in the areas of education, public health, social security, and safety.

In his report, Stolte sketches a picture of a backlog in investments in the islands’ infrastructure. “Every visitor experiences the serious backlogs, especially when one drives on the roads in Bonaire and St. Eustatius. The system of facilities overall is by far not on a for the Netherlands acceptable level as was agreed upon when the islands became part of the Dutch Constellation,” he wrote. “The three public entities, together with the Dutch Government, are faced with the challenge to make the next steps in their development now that the four main pillars, education, public health, social security and safety, have their fundament,” Stolte stated in his report, which Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk forwarded to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday.

Economic growth and an increase of employment are often a solution, just as in the European part of the Netherlands, the representative stated. “Studies have shown that there are sufficient possibilities on the islands, despite their small scale. Tourism and agriculture provide major opportunities.”

The Executive Councils have drawn up development plans, but these depend on financing of the Dutch Government, because the islands cannot borrow on the capital market in order to make investments in capital goods. The fact that almost no follow-up steps could be taken during the recent Caribbean Netherlands week in October in The Hague was “somewhat disappointing and frustrating” for the local government representatives, according to Stolte. “The representatives of the islands want to make progress with the development of their island. They want to show their people that the decision to become part of the Netherlands was a good one,” he stated.

The European and the Caribbean part of the Netherlands face complete different challenges, noted the representative. The Hague has to take a step down due to cost-saving measures, whereas the Caribbean Netherlands wants to step up to the plate by investing in better roads, harbours, the social infrastructure, tourism and district development. “It is clear that the two parties have not crossed each other on those stairs where it comes to development,” he stated.

According to Stolte, the question is opportune as to whether the islands should suffer because of the cost-saving measures of the Dutch Government or that the possibility should be offered to the islands to generate more income on the long run, so they have more chance at standing on their own feet. He said the investments concerned a “modest” amount in comparison to the total Dutch budget.

[. . .] The 24-page progress report of the National Government Representative included an overview of the work that the various Dutch ministries have done on and on behalf of the islands. The entire report can be downloaded via the Website of the National Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN:

[Shown above: a Saba road.]

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