Dutch gov't called to be generous with coronavirus help to Caribbean islands

THE HAGUE - A group of well-known Dutch people called on the government to be generous when providing coronavirus support to Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. The Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have suffered three blows over the past period and now need to feel the benefits of belonging to the Kingdom more than ever, according to the writers, NOS reports.

"Hurricanes, a complete collapse of neighboring country Venezuela, and now the coronavirus on top of it," the writers listed the blows dealt to the Caribbean islands. Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten were hit particularly hard by the coronavirus-related travel restrictions, as their economies are very dependent on tourism.

On Friday, the Council of Ministers will decide on the continuation of coronavirus relief for the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. The signatories call on the government to work with "compassion and a warm heart on the one hand and a cool mind on the other" when making this decision.

With the first aid package of 370 million euros for the islands, the government attached strict conditions. Among other things, civil servants and directors of public companies had to accept pay cuts of 12.5 percent. Last week, riots broke out on Curacao after garbage collectors were told they would be fired because there was no money left to pay them.

The signatories of the letter said that they understand that the government wants to set conditions to aid, but called for the aid to be set up in such a way that the struggling residents of the islands experience the "added value of the Kingdom relationship". "So much more is possible with the combination of business and a warm heart on both sides of the Kingdom relationship," they said.

The letter was signed by comedian Jandino Asporaat, chairman of the organization for Dutch employers Hans de Boer, NS CEO Roger van Boxtel, athlete Churandi Martina, and former president of Dutch central bank DNB Nout Wellink, among others.

By Janene Pieters

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