Child benefits to rise, utility rates to fall in 2023

The Statia government welcomes the announcement from The Netherlands that child benefits will rise by $90 dollars a month next year as part of its programme to halve child poverty by 2025.

The increased aid is part of a €30 million package approved by the cabinet in The Hague to improve the purchasing power and reduce the financial burdens of residents of Statia, as well as Bonaire and Saba. The allocation will rise to €32 million annually from 2025.

“Child benefits play a vital role in providing financial assistance to parents in need, helping to offset the costs associated with raising children and ensuring a better quality of life for all children,” said Reuben Merkman, the island commissioner responsible for social domain.

“This increase will go a long way in helping families reduce their financial burdens, and enhance the overall welfare of Statian children. We thank the state secretary, Alexandra Van Huffelen, and everyone who helped secure this package.”

In addition to the increase in child benefits, the energy allowance of $1,300 per year will remain in place, as will subsidies for electricity and water. Internet rates will fall even further, and extra funds will go towards improving  public transport.

According to state secretary Van Huffelen: "For many people on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, a roof over your head, food on the table or extra necessities for children is not a given. This cabinet wants to do something about that. That is why I am happy that, together with colleague Carola Schouten, we have succeeded in setting aside a considerable amount of money, not only for this year but also for the coming years, to improve the lives of residents on the three islands. To start with, by further increasing benefits, but also by still contributing to basic services like water and electricity. We are not there yet, but it is an important next step to tackle poverty on the islands. I am therefore also very much looking forward to the findings of the Social Minimum Committee. Knowing that central government, employers, public entities, and residents desperately need each other to create an equal level of services and reduce the cost of living.