Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, June 21st, 2020

 “Dangui, please give us the bad news.”

Get it over with.

I am not proud of the actions of the union at the hospital, exempting themselves from a financial sacrifice.

Let’s face it, we celebrated you as front liners, but thank-god we only had three Covid 19 patients, and most elective surgeries were postponed, so you did not work that hard in the past months, which is OK, but why do you think you are better than us, and that you should be exempt from pay reductions??

To the defense of the nurses and teachers, I can say that Serlimar was inspected by Grant Thornton, and they reported that the 229 employees there earn on AVERAGE of AWG 70,000 per person.

Again, AWG 70,000(!!) per person.

So yes, the nurses and teachers, and the Police, should have been exempt from cuts but they were not. Consequently, we must all give a bit, right now.

It is time now, to move to the phase we have all been waiting for, in the private sector: MAKING DRASTIC cuts in GOA’s waste, trimming off the FAT. Let a thousand or two thousand individuals go.

It is not realistic to have all these people hanging around bestuurskantoor doing very little. Once the MINPRES breaks the news and cuts all these useless unproductive individuals, we might be able to pay the nurses, teachers, and police officers what they deserve!!

The Dutch made it clear when they said that all ministers, members of parliament, and ALL companies and organizations linked to GOA gotta give. And this also includes the hospital.

So, Dangui, please give us the bad news and get it over with.

We’re asking: Why isn’t the MinHealth just announce the bad tidings, and get it over with! Secrecy creates friction between unions, when there was no friction before. The problem is the minister.

Because he already agreed on June 1, and handed in the proposal, to cut 5M per month, or 35M this year. The Dutch also told him, don’t wait for us, come up with a plan by June 1 and start implementing immediately.

TODAY is June 15 and he is quiet.

The only way he can implement the cuts is by introducing some sort of co-pay on medication and doctor visits, and by cutting salary expenses across the board, including the hospital.

Instead, he is now creating friction between unions; just go ahead and announce. Get it over with. This way everyone will understand that the only way to get through this is if we all give a little bit.

Have some sympathy for those who have given 20%, 40%, or everything. There are people here who have NOTHING!

The MinPres is preparing for a press conference, stand by to see where the ax falls.

And then again today, GOA needs to hand in the next plan, for the next phase, and we think people will finally get it, and let go, because too many people burden the payroll. And the ones who get hurt by this are the teachers, nurses, police, who deserve better!

“Dangui, please give us the bad news”

You agreed and gave in to everything the Dutch demanded, and now you get cold feet?

It’s 5 million per month, it’s June 15th, where is the announcement?

Knife at the Throat

The MinPres in her press conference yesterday talked decisively, she informed salary cuts are done, no arguments, please, there is a knife at our throat, resistance is futile.

She expressed her dismay that those who were asked to sacrifice 12.6% do all the complaining while 37.000 individuals in the private sector sacrificed 40% to 100% of their pay, and THEY were NOT out in the street protesting.

It’s time for solidarity, she explained not egoism.

According to MinPres, GOA sat with 12 labor unions, and each of them wanted a customized agreement regarding salary cuts which is impossible. “To be in government,” she said,” is to make decisions and the decisions were made.” Effective May 1st, all salary cuts are in place for all GOA’s employees and all GOA related entities.

Welcome to democracy, she confirmed, where majority rules, and that’s it.

She did acknowledge a hitch, the hospital employees belong to a government-sponsored entity, and are not directly employed by GOA, but they got a letter of instructions, and shouldn’t act irresponsibly, she stated.

Then to clarify her message she added: If they don’t comply, the economy will CRASH.

We can’t tailor agreements, we must comply, and stop acting like prima donnas. That’s my interpretation.

She had no makeup on, her glamour subdued, somber clothes, no jewelry, she asked twice for a drink of water. This wasn’t easy, but she faced the music courageously.

Which the Minister of Health DID NOT, but that comes in the next column.

ONE OF MY ECONOMIST FRIENDS SUGGESTS: DO A 40% REDUCTION ACROSS THE BOARD, PUBLIC SECTOR, PUBLIC COMPANIES, SEMI-PUBLIC AND ALL GOVERNMENT ENTITIES. People then may work at 60%, if they want to work more, great, but do work less, and get paid less, and the country will dig itself out of the hole, faster.  

We were waiting for big announcement of cuts of AZV costs, but we got a whisper instead of a roar! After much apology, the MinPres reported some small transport cuts for 155 hemodialysis patients and 35 peritoneal dialysis patients. She was tender, but firm.

Then it was the turn of the MinHealth!

Political Courage Required

I have to say, that what he was facing was difficult, the Minister of Health was to tell us our DWV, Dushi Wasteful Vida is over, and that from now on we had to be frugal and calculated, instead of acting like Rockefellers.

When he appeared on the screen, he discussed a few things, mostly outlining what we already knew, that we had saved the last three months, because not a single patient was sent to Colombia for treatment.

While the MinPres took A LONG TIME to apologize and explain that transportation costs have been cut for 155 hemodialysis patients and 35 peritoneal dialysis patients, and that some cash-allowance were slashed, the MinHealth presentation was underwhelming.

At the end of his presentation he MENTIONED the Zorgaanbieders, the caretakers’ fees were slashed. And that is how we found out that AZV will cut everyone, and everything. For example: If the hospital has a 150M budget, then a 5.5% reduction means a good chunk of change, saved.

And if they do this across the board every specialist, every house doctor, every nurse, they will manage to save 35M until the end of the year.

But the minister just skimmed over the plan, I later saw a press release by AZV, clearly conceived by its leader Ruben Goedhoop, with a fancy name: AZV 5 Wave Model.

The AZV 5 Wave Model is much-needed, but the question remains: WILL THEY INTRODUCE STRUCTURAL CHANGES OR JUST CUT SERVICES.

The same question also applies to the hospital workers, will they accept the salary reduction, or will they maintain their salaries intact, and just eliminate services to the public.

So far, we didn’t hear much about the restructuring of total care expenses, and this is a big issue, but very solvable.

There is a huge amount of waste right now in the hospital, caused by the way it is run. Just think about it. The fixed costs are the fixed costs, you can’t touch them, but the operating room for example runs at a productivity of less than 25%. We have a building with facilities, fixed costs – airco, trash removal, mortgage – but it only gets used for one shift of 8hrs a day, so at 30% efficiency.

In that 30% there are a bunch of issues causing actual touch time, net operating time, of less than 25%. And the list of patient-patients is long, and getting longer.

Imagine if we had two shifts? And used the facilities more efficiently, it will cut the cost of care significantly, because it isn ‘t the facility that defines the bottleneck, it’s the personnel. The operating crews are limited so that only one shift can be staffed.

BOTTOM LINE: Our cost per operation is 3 times higher than it needs to be. If we would utilize the existing resources better, we would deliver more value to our clients.

In general, in Aruba, we don’t look at the total cost of care, we look at the accounting. But accounting is hocus pocus, they move things around, and tada…. we’re in the clear.

Why not try to lower the total cost??

And you do that by prevention, education, promotion.

AZV, by nature of its name is a sickness insurance. Their business is sickness.

We should change the name of that organization to GCP, General Care Plan.

Right now, with more sickness, doctors make more money.

We should turn things upside down, and on their heads.

If you show us less sickness, we pay you more money.

Pay physicians by how efficiently they manage our well-being and how much progress we made towards total health. How much we improved, and that will lower the cost of care.

Right now, no one “cares.”

As a public we should talk about actual care delivery and how to prevent the need for care, longer term, and use the existing assets and services for the betterment of our community.

It’s the same illusive goal: More Value for Less Money

Back to the minister, he DID NOT TALK ABOUT ANY OF THESE, he allowed a press release to tell us about the AZV 5 Wave Model.

Political courage expresses itself in the understanding of the risks and pressures that elected officials face when having to make difficult choices. There was little here.

On the other hand, he had the courage to tell us that he is rebuilding the pier at Roger’s Beach. Why don’t you put these people whom you must employ to cleaning, we must clean the island before the first visitors arrive, we don’t need a pier at Roger’s Beach.   

ATV Days Recommended and Shine the Light into the Dark Corners of Serlimar

I asked one of my friends in the media to set up a survey:

What do you think about the measures the public sector is giving itself? Good. Bad. So-so.

What do you think about how the public sector is reacting to these? Good. Bad. So-so

Do you think we should cut worktime by 40%, ATV, for those who can and for non-critical public staffers, including parliament?? Good. Bad. So-so

I have no clue how to construct a survey, but those who know should ask the public sector if ATV is the way to go, less work, less pay, instead of medidanan.

I find it difficult to catch up these days, I am still stuck two days ago, when the Minister of Health did not tell us what’s happening, but allowed a press release to do the job. ZERO political courage there.

We need leadership, caring, determined and enthusiastic, to tell us about imposed sanctions and sacrifices, and infuse hope, in times of crisis. He did neither. 


My mind lingers on the Minister of Infrastructure’s press conference regarding Serlimar, from Monday. 

She is turning on the light, and shining it into dark corners.

They are in deep in #2

They cost us Awg 132M in the past 5 years. Subsidy and loss combined.

To break even they should bill us Awg 88.3 florin per month, per household, to pick up our trash, WHICH INCLUDES THE TIPPING FEE.

This is almost THREE times what EcoTech charges.

And, Serlimar has a smaller, tasteless toter –  azure blue and canary yellow. Really??

Then they still have a debt of Awg 41M

So financig and paying back the principal will run much higher than Awg 88.30 florin per month, per household.

The MinInfra asked everyone to pay their bill, otherwise, disaster strikes.

But I have no idea if I paid it or not.


All that, to prevent EcoTech from taking the market over.

They wasted 132M of our hard-earned tax money, to bamboozle EcoTech, which turns a profit, invests in processing capacity and delivers top notch service, with LESS than a tenth number of clients.


Truly criminal.

The new broom at the head of Serlimar makes a good impression; he had an Aruban slip of the tongue, he said he might not look like a local, judging by his color, but he is.

I thought Aruba was color blind.

But anyway, we have a qualified Aruban at the helm of this failed organization, he promised to do his best, we have a stoked minister, she is fired up, just what we need, she is shining the light, some people don’t like what she finds, but I like it.

What we learned from the teachers

According to the MinPres, and we already know it, the Covid19 crisis has caused a lot of tension worldwide, including Aruba. The universe is up in arms, on many subjects, and MinPres in the last press conference wanted to convey the message that it is important, however, to find tranquility, and focus on following the rules and restarting the economy, ASAP, to prevent further socio-economic damage.

Two days ago, we were told that MinPres mitigated the crisis in education, she told the teachers, in writing, what to expect, and started a 12-month dialogue with them, with the expectation to achieve consensus on the type of change needed and its concrete benefits.

Change for change’s sake is not good enough, well-thought out change must achieve improved, measurable results for our community.

What can we learn from the crisis-on-hold in education?

We learned we cannot come out swinging, with plans for change all over the place and expect our collaborators to quietly execute.

They have to be included, climbing one mountain at a time, planning, executing, measuring, tweaking, then going on to the next mountain.

Change has to be handled with care, with the goal of instituting minimum change for maximum results, otherwise we upset the hive, which later becomes ALLERGIC to change.

We need stability and collaboration, not storms in teacups.

We have a lot on our agenda, according to RVA, the council in charge of thinking, the agenda includes 1) the tax system; 2) health care; 3) the social security system; 4) the government organization and the business environment.

“RVA deliberately divided the load into topics in order to provide insight, and better identify the bottlenecks, as well as to clarify the importance of these issues in relation to (achieving) a dynamic economy and society.”

They focus on achievement. Results.

In that case, everyone has to carry their weight. The MinPres cannot run every department, and put out all fires, including the one at the hospital that was a model of collaboration and teamwork.

We’re not paying anymore for ministers or parliamentarians with their own secondary agendas, that is a terrible waste of resources, and we are done with that, we want value, we expect first class work from our civil servants, for the good of the people, from now on.

And don’t keep on blaming the Dutch for ANYTHING, be grateful for the money they pour into our economy, and take responsibility for years of wasting our national treasures.

The whole world is imploding, according to the experts the worst is yet to come, so hold tight, and GO WITH THE FLOW, be agreeable and collaborative, and eager to contribute, the MinPres reassures us it will all work out if we take a deep breath, and relax, keep climbing mountains, one mountain at the time.    

So much happening, in just one day!

Ferris Bueller’s day off was fantastic. I visited my friends at Ajudo na Aruba #covid19, went to a super interesting meeting with psychologist Milly Lacle, taught an English class at HIASaruba, shopped for Father’s Day gifts at T.H. Palm & Company then went to the Beach Bar Aruba for a birthday party.

But the day was long, and having gone to bed at 9:30pm every single night for the past four months, I was dragging by 10pm.

It was good I came home early, because walking up the driveway I confronted a horror scene of three beloved dogs looking at a mega sapo, he was at Bolo’s food bowl, in their space, clearly an uncalled for aggression.

Level-headed, I lured them away with treats, but as soon as Mac began shaking his head I knew he was hit!

Off to the garden hose. He did not like it, I flushed his mouth, his fur, he accepted with misgivings the horrible humiliation, and told me I should have at least taken off my clothes and my shoes before water-boarding him.

He is such a sweet thing.

At 10:10 I called Maria Andreina Contreras Oduber, and a doctor on the end of the line took me by the hand, and we flushed Mac’s mouth again, watched for more symptoms of poisoning, gave him a big bowl of milk, he liked it, then I raced to the botica, trying not to think about the saliva spaghetti dangling from his mouth, the tongue workings, and the head twitching I left behind.

Mac did not appreciate the charcoal pills, but he is well and alive this morning, waddling happy, he is a bit chunky I noticed. He was on a Covid 19 diet with me!

The sapo? I cornered him with a broom, plopped a clay pot on his head, and poured some Clorox, through the hole over his head. I am not proud. I later escorted the sapo-melt to the trash and made myself a tea, paired with a cookie.

What a day, Ferris would have been proud!

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June 21, 2020
Rona Coster