The Kingdom of the Netherlands: four countries
The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint-Maarten. Together with the three special municipalities Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba the three last-named countries constitute the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
The financial situation of Aruba and Sint-Maarten is vulnerable. The financial situation of Sint-Eustatius in particular is alarming. In 2015 a supervisory regime was established. The Government Representative, the Board for Financial Supervision Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba and the accountant in charge have presented plans to improve the governance and the finances in the island region. In order to prevent expenditure from exceeding the available budgets a regime of supervision of the island's expenditure was established in 2016.
There is poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands. Providing for the primary necessities of life poses a challenge to many people every month, even if they have several jobs. In the Caribbean Netherlands no poverty line has been set and not every resident has a minimum income. The 'onderstand' (relief, or social benefit) is now around 200 dollars, whereas the statutory minimum wage is 800 dollars per month. The gap between the two is too wide. That is why the 'onderstand' is now a percentage of the minimum wage. Moreover, a higher exemption from expenditure tax has been introduced in order to increase the purchasing power.
Corruption and law enforcement
In Curaçao and Sint-Maarten the underworld and the legitimate world seem to be strongly entwined. Fraud, tax evasion and money laundering affect the financial system. Fraud and corruption at political level have a very negative impact on the entire country. In 2017, law enforcement will be enhanced through temporary expansion of the Criminal Investigation Cooperation Team (RST), the Public Prosecution Service and the Joint Court of Justice.