|‘More support from Netherlands to overtake leeway’|
|Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:23|
KRALENDIJK — Bonaire expects more cooperation and concrete assistance from the Netherlands to overtake the many years’ leeway in development. The Board of Governors wants the island to manage on its own and to have more welfare and prosperity but for this it needs support from the Netherlands.Deputy of Economy and Finance, Burney el Hage conveyed this message to Minister of Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, during his visit to Bonaire last week. According to El Hage, for fifty years now the island has been wrestling with an unacceptable leeway in development caused by a chronic lack of means, even during the period it was part of the Antillean government. Of the development funds that were allotted to all islands at the time hardly none were left for Bonaire. The island had had to run up debts to survive and make the highly necessary investments because it wasn’t given sufficient means.
With the transition to public body as part of the Netherlands, the mounting debts were purged but the leeway remained. Very little was realized of the support promised at several occasions to clear the leeway. Bonaire strives to cover the necessary expenses and investments from own means, however, with the existing leeway the island’s government faces a double challenge.
Bonaire is very proud to have reorganized the island finances as published by the Council financial supervision (Cft) and that the Cft had given the island a good report. “However, this success had cost sacrifices. Although enormous progress was made since 10-10-’10, the population faces financial difficulties. Bonaire still has a long way to go before all residents can enjoy a decent standard of living”, said El Hage.
The deputy believes the time has come for the island to make a fundamental choice: continue to rely on the kingdom or grow to a higher level of ability to cope. Bonaire advocates the latter but needs help to realize this; not foreign aid but help to develop the island. El Hage thinks of investments that will benefit all parties and that will eventually pay for themselves because in the first place development leads to more income for the citizens but also for the local government and the kingdom.
The vision of the government of Bonaire is based on areas of social and economic nature. That vision is outlined in an investment plan. Urgent investments are needed in the program of the integral approach of districts (combating poverty), a new (container) harbor, educational programs and maintenance of the road network. Bonaire is also concerned about the decline in purchasing power, medical insurance and other aspects that require urgent attention and good coordination. El Hage: “Bonaire wants a much better living standard for its citizens and is counting on support form the Dutch government to realize this.”