Published On: Tue, May 19th, 2020

Knops: “Countries cannot support their own autonomy”

Rutte and State Secretary Raymond Knops - 20180514 HH

PHILIPSBURG – “Once more we see now what was already clear for a longer period of time: the countries cannot support their own autonomy.” That explosive remark comes from a letter State Secretary Drs. Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) sent on Tuesday to the chairman of the Dutch parliament, Khadija Arib, on the eve of the parliamentary debate about liquidity support for Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten.

Knops notes that the gap between rich and poor citizens on the islands is large and that this gap is increasing due to the corona-virus crisis. The state secretary repeats in his letter that solidarity is a two-way street. “It requires that the Caribbean islands implement necessary reforms quickly to improve their resilience.”

Without measures that will strengthen the resilience of these communities, it does not make sense for the Netherlands to provide large amounts in financial support, Knops wrote. “Providing liquidity support will depend on the preparedness of the countries to implement such reforms.”

Knops informs the parliament that the countries have until Wednesday, May 20, at 5 p.m. (11 a.m. local time in St. Maarten) to accept the proposal in writing. “For every country that has not accepted it in time, it will expire.”

St. Maarten will have to accept a 25 percent cut to the total package of labor conditions for ministers and members of parliament and a 12.5 percent cut for employees in the (semi) public sector. Cuts do not go below the gross minimum wage.

Top salaries in the (semi) public sector may not exceed 130 percent of the lowered salary for the prime minister. This condition also applies to existing labor contracts and also affects consultant-tariffs.

Aruba has already accepted the conditions. If Curacao and St. Maarten follow suit, the liquidity support will enable the governments to keep functioning until the end of June. In early July the Kingdom Council of Ministers will debate liquidity support for the period from July on. The council will then also review whether the countries have complied with the conditions. The results of this review will play a part in the decision making about further liquidity support.

The Dutch parliament will debate the liquidity support for Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten on Wednesday, starting at 11 a.m. (5 a.m. local time in St. Maarten). Members from seven different factions are currently on the speakers list for this debate. Among them are André Bosman (VVD) and Ronald van Raak (Socialist Party). The allotted time to speak varies from 4 to 9 minutes.

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