Saba – Het Bestuurscollege van Saba heeft per brief aandacht van de Tweede Kamercommissie voor Koninkrijksrelaties gevraagd voor de problematische financiële situatie van het eiland door het ontbreken van structurele financiering vanuit Den Haag.
In de brief wijst het BC de Kamerleden erop dat de vrije uitkering (te vergelijken met de bijdragen die gemeenten in Europees Nederland het Gemeentefonds ontvangen) tekortschiet om de operationele kosten van de lokale overheid te dekken. Lees hieronder de toelichting van het eilandbestuur:
Because of Saba’s solid financial management, the local government was able to secure the trust of various ministries, which has resulted in incidental funding. The government said it was very grateful for these funds which made it possible to get rid of some backlogs and to develop in several areas. Even though this was deemed as very positive, the incidental funding also has a negative spin-off.
In the letter, the recycling project was mentioned as an example. In 2014, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) invested some US $1.5 million in recycling. However, Saba was made responsible for the management and upkeep of the recycling facility, which cost government an additional US $500,00 per year.
Saba has had to borrow money from the Netherlands to carry out a number of infrastructural projects, including the S-turn in the road to the harbor. “The repayment of these loans is a heavy burden for our budget for years and continues to be so.”
Where it comes to Saba generating its own income, it was explained in the letter that this is not easy due to the island’s small scale and the lacking of income generating sectors. While the harbors of St. Eustatius and Bonaire can generate own income with visiting oil tankers and cruise ships, Saba’s harbor is unprofitable. Aside from the contributions of the Dutch government, Saba’s own income is generated through limited tourism and its population, of which a large part lives under the poverty line.
Saba’s free allowance is reportedly not increased because of the effects that this would have on the other two Caribbean Netherlands islands. Saba last year had a US $0.6 million deficit and the 2021 budget shows a deficit of US $1.3 million which needs to be compensated from the already low reserves. The multi-annual perspective is worrisome. “It seems that our strong points of solid financial management and being pro-active are working against us.”
The Committee was asked to again bring Saba’s need for fitting structural financial means and a higher free allowance to the attention of the relevant ministries. “A clear signal of the members of the Kingdom Relations Committee is very valuable,” it was stated.