Raymond Knops

Knops 12: $8 Million For BESt For Kids Program Caribbean Netherlands

Mr Dittrich (D66):
At this point I also had a question about the program BES(t) 4 kids, but maybe that fits in with the answer you still want to give, so let me ask another question. When we talk about Bonaire, I missed the position of the library. The library says that not only do you have to borrow books, but you also have to make it a centre where people can follow training courses so that they do not have to come to the Netherlands but that they can follow those courses, and also a centre for innovative developments. Can you reflect on that?
State Secretary Knops:
Yes. I propose that I return to this in the second term; Then you will get a more precise answer than what I would give now. BES(t) 4 kids, I can give you an answer to that, because that is indeed a program that the ministries of SZW, OCW and VWS, and BZK, have picked up, together with UNICEF. That’s just a really nice program, I guess. Very concretely on the ground ensure demonstrable results. But one part of that is childcare. Very important, of course, to facilitate this well, in order to give children a flying start and equal opportunities, at a very young age. For this purpose, 8 million were also made available under the Caribbean Netherlands Envelope region. And a temporary subsidy scheme is in place from 1 July last year, with the aim of reducing the cost of childcare for parents and enabling childcare organisations to bear the costs of quality improvements. I think those are very important things, because you see big differences on Bonaire. It is a beautiful island, but you also see poverty, you see children with educational disadvantages at a young age, and of course we want to prevent that. We just want to give them all the same opportunities, and that starts with a well-designed childcare. So that program’s running.
Mr Schalk and Mr Raven have also raised questions about the Small Scale report, which requires support. The question was: when will the report be followed up? That is what Mr Schalk asked. The results of that Ter Haar report, because that is the person who chaired that committee, formed part of that broad programme of cabinet response, ibo, Raad van State. So that is Mr Recourt’s report, for the sake of bredness, and the opinion of the Council of State, and this is specifically about utilities. In the coming months, the various analyses and findings will be brought together so that the outstanding points of discussion can be dealt with in full with the public bodies, because we are really going to do this together with the public bodies. These recommendations are, of course, input for these discussions, and as a final piece of this decision-making, implementing agendas will be drawn up for each island, which may also vary from island to island, answering the various fundamental questions raised in that report. And it is up to the next cabinet to draw definitive conclusions in all these areas, together with the public bodies.
Mr Raven also asked if I would see anything in one government utility, which is also mentioned in that report. In the recommendations, Ter Haar does not conclude that this would be the solution; It could be a solution. Above all, he recommends that the various utilities and seaports operate without political interference. We had a whole discussion about government nv’s on Bonaire. And in itself, I would almost like to say, you cannot be in principle for or against that, but that also depends a little on how close the administration and politics are to those nv’s and whether or not it meets the task and the social goals it aims to achieve. I think it is good to include all these points and modalities in the discussion that is now going to run together with the public bodies and also choose what is the best way to organise this. But you are right that the issue of seaports and airports for small public bodies, such as Saba or St Eustatius but also Bonaire with its international airport, is often quite large and that it is good that the departments here in the Netherlands are also involved. We have recently done the same with all kinds of steering groups around the fuel supply on Bonaire, for example, and which is also an issue that really cannot be solved by the island itself. But that’s where we’re at the table with IenW and EZK.

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