State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen speaks with the media after the September 30, 2022 Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting in The Hague with in the background the Ministers Plenipotentiary Rene Violenus of St. Maarten (left), Ady Thijsen of Aruba (second from right) and Carlson Manuel of Curaçao (right). (Suzanne Koelega file photo)
THE HAGUE--The Kingdom Council of Ministers RMR on Friday morning withdrew the condition of 12.5% labour benefits cut for employees of the (semi) public sector in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.
The cut to the labour benefits of civil servants and employees working in the semi-public sector and the cut for ministers and members of parliament was one of the conditions for the three Dutch countries to receive liquidity support from the Dutch government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the countries sought financial help from the Netherlands. The pandemic severely affected the countries’ economies which largely depend on tourism. As a result, the governments and private sector lost a large part of their income.
The required cuts that the countries had to implement was 12.5% for civil servants and employees working in the semi-public sector and 25% for public office holders, and applied to the entire package of labour conditions.
The cuts contributed to the reduction of the financial shortfall of the governments, while at the same time, it demonstrated solidarity with the private sector where employees had to take a 20% salary cut in order for businesses to receive government support during the pandemic.
The pandemic has passed and tourism in the countries is recovering well. This means that the government revenues in 2023 are largely back at where they were before the pandemic. The Committee for Financial Supervision Curaçao and St. Maarten CFT and the Aruba Committee for Financial Supervision CAFT have advised the RMR that it is possible for the countries to comply with the budget norms in 2023.
The countries have not appealed to the Netherlands for new liquidity support and can finance the phasing out of the 12.5% labour conditions’ cut in their own budgets. The condition to regulate the top incomes in the (semi) public sector has been legally secured in all three countries.
“I am content that the countries have created the necessary room in their budgets for the phasing out of the cuts, because this will bring the incomes of for example employees in important sectors like healthcare and education back to the level before the pandemic,” said Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen.
“This is especially important because the sharply increased inflation as a result of the war in Ukraine is much felt in the Caribbean part of our Kingdom. The purchasing power of people was affected a lot in combination with the labour benefits cut. This especially affected the lower incomes and that can now be largely undone,” said Van Huffelen.