Another Day Older and Deeper In Debt

The 15TH is almost upon us, time to pay the piper, and I looked at my company’s bank statement. It registered a 78% decline in income Vs. July of last year.

Ask me if I am panicking.

No, of course not, because I inherited by father’s genes, he was an optimist, and I know things will work out at the end, but I imagine that if you own a business, and are responsible for employees, you could be panicking.

The clock it ticking. Friday will be interesting. They will be talking about us in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile the 23-page document circulated by MinPres, in preparation for that meeting in the Netherlands, landed in my inbox. It was penned partly by our people and partly, the landspakket, by the Dutch.

While my Dutch is shaky, I know enough to understand little has changed since the original Dutch-version. Remember? The conditions for the third-tranche??

We just delayed 6 weeks – in June my company was still “ok” with a mere 49% income decline — the MinPres tried to modify this and the other, but the Dutch did not concede. And she conveniently cannot discuss anything with parliament at the moment, because she is home-bound in required quarantine.

The heart of the debate was semantic: Reform vs Support. How should we view what the Dutch Kingdom is offering?

Aruba wanted to call it the light-hearted support, the Dutch insisted on the more serious reform. Reform it is, we now have OHH, An Organ of Recovery & Reform, in addition to RAFT, hands-on guidance, unrelated to the other Dutch islands, unique to Aruba, replacing CAFT, financial supervision that will take us by the hand and show us how to spend our money more efficiently.

A new law, at Kingdom level is in the making, governing justice, a new structure whereby investigations no longer fall under the MinJust. That was a non-negotiable condition.

The age of retirement went down to 66 from suggested 67, but that is conditional to the state of our pension fund’s liquidity.

Dollarization is not off the books, it was tabled to 2022, because the 60M GOA earns from currency exchange is dear to GOA’s heart, and there is no desire to let it go, though we wouldn’t mind paying less in charges.

This pull and push has been going on since July 2014. The hunger strike. The financial supervision started then, but for three years nothing much happened, and the former government was allowed the hocus-focus of accounting with the PPP projects, which were not included in the budget, but hovered miraculously off the books. Then in 2017, our financial supervisors were alerted by the Chamber of Commerce that some financial sorcery was taking place.

The real financial supervision then started after the money was already spent, in 2017, and indeed, some damage control has been instituted since then, especially with the new, current GOA, but not enough.

From now, we must demonstrate sober financial management, Aruba must comply with RAFT standards and register a surplus of 1% each year, accompanied by an audit report, and if we behave well until 2026, we could be off the hook by 2029. 

Sounds excellent to me.


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August 12, 2020
Rona Coster