According to #MinFic: The bandage helped but the wound didn’t heal.

The Labor Unions have been clamoring lately, in an effort to reverse the 12.6% salary reductions imposed last year, when Aruba applied for Dutch financial aid and received it under certain conditions, one of them was salary reductions across the board.

At the time, the reductions were introduced as a one-hand-washes-the-other move, meaning the money will be used to finance FASE, the program invented by the Minister of Social Affairs to replace lost income for those without a job.

The FASE idea was bureaucratic but it worked, and recently because Aruba did not qualify for the 7th liquidity injection, it was discontinued. No more money. With 2,700 individuals still on the needy list, according to GOA.

If it was discontinued, argue the Labor Unions, you must restore our salaries to pre-pandemic levels.

The issue will be discussed the coming week between GOA and the Labor Unions, but it is a dead duck. The condition is still in effect, the Dutch are asking for savings on personnel, meaning salary reductions, they also want to see a vague budget item titled Services and Products shrink, and they would like foundations subsidized by GOA, to tighten the belt. Sure, our health care system must economize.

The vague budget line titled Services and Products, has bloomed, as people have been hired by GOA under its cover, despite the freeze on hiring.

When I talked to my son over dinner about the 12.6% Labor Union outrage, he laughed. He was paid 60% of his salary for a long time, though his sector, hospitality, foots the bills for all GOA’s expenses.

The Minister of Finance and Culture, MinFic, was guest on Noticia Cla this week. The Minister’s strategy of repeating herself endlessly and drowning all issues in words, is still her favorite, fortunately host Tito Lacle managed to interrupt her free-flow, periodically.

For the first 17 minutes of the program she blatantly blamed our financial supervisors for our dire cash flow situation, THEY did not support us, they made a decision, and did not change their mind. Later in the program she stated all conditions, part of the Landspakket, Aruba’s plan for reform, with new norms, are in the pipeline, and being implemented, though it takes time, meanwhile the mean supervisors could have given us the hand-out, based on trust, that we are working on all agenda points.

My interpretation.

She definitely overused the word PRUDENCIA. We know there is nothing prudent about Aruba’s wasteful financial handling. And the uncertainty remains, as GOA is expecting a December 17th decision of the kingdom, regarding financial aid in the first quarter of 2022.

MinFic confirmed that on January 1st, 2023, we will be transitioning to a different taxation system, and some of the current obligations, BBO, BAZV, BAVP, will be nixed and some lowered. They are currently making the calculations, as to how much relief will the new system bring. It will be a two tiered tax plan, lower on food & beverage and higher on the rest.

MinFic also reported that salary subsidies, were overpaid to the tune of 80 million florins. Mostly by large hotel companies who were given subsidies in excess, because they over estimated their losses. But through the tax office, their earnings were verified and refund notices will be sent, soon, anchored by law, that will legally obligate returning the funds.

My fellow press-member Arian Rasmijn described an argument in his weekly column over whose idea it was, to cut salaries in the public sector. Who came up with the idea, the Dutch OR MinPres? Did the Dutch demand it, or did Aruba offer?

He speculated it was perhaps MinPres’ wish to see some savings there, and that she was pleased to see it coincided with Dutch strategy.

Who knows. It is irrelevant. Aruba is broke, must borrow to finance it deficits, and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. We are all currently working for the banks.

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December 02, 2021
Rona Coster