Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, March 29th, 2020

Covid19 drama on many levels

Yesterday was a dramatic day.

Those of you who watched Parliament TV, witnessed the people’s representative go on and on, in different directions – thank you POR for suggesting a salary cut; sure, RED is right, we should all be farming vegetables. Not weed.

What they ALL had in common was the holierthanthou tone of voice, as if they are morally and intellectually superior to their peers, in Aruba they call it arrogance, they arrogantly lectured us, pitching us against them, we were stupid, we were wasteful, they were here to fix it.

The fix suggested a 1,3 billion deficit and a 1,6 billion budget for financial needs on an island of 120.000 residents, resulting in a 104% ratio of debt to GDP.

(WHY DON’T YOU JUST GIVE US THE MONEY, AND LET US DO OUR OWN THING? Maybe it is time to consider giving us a stipend, no paper work, no strings attached, a universal basic income?? It will be much cheaper in the long run)

Two things stood out:

A: The MinLabor elaborated on his original promise to supplement income up to Awg 950 for each person unemployed

He finally published the conditions.

Surprise.

The responsibility will totally fall on the private sector.

No signs of belt tightening on GOA’s side.

Basically Employers must pay employees a full salary in March 2020, they have to present an action plan for how the company will address the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis, and they need to prove that they will first make all efforts to reduce work hours partially, prior to reducing hours to zero. IF above is not complied with, the employee (earning less than AFL 950) is NOT eligible for FASE and the employer is still liable for full salaries.

If above is complied with, some help is forthcoming.

This tune was completely different than the initial generous announcement.

This ministerial dreamed-up course of action will never happen, with no money going into businesses to pay employees. How does a hotel pay for example, 350-600 people, if rooms and restaurants are empty? How can a small businesses carry such suggested burden? It can’t.  

GOA has for years crushed entrepreneurs with suffocating rules, regulations, and over taxation, and is still attempting the same trick now.  

Same old same old is not the solution.  

The adorable, know-all MinFec then presented her budget with GDP tragically taking a 44% nose dive; and the utopian surplus of 46 million turning into a deficit of 1.3 billion, that’s 1,300 million, with financial need pegged at 1.6 billion, or 1,600 million, with the country’s debt, against GDP sky rocketing from 73.1% to 104%.

She said there was no other plan, warning her audience not to ask for options B, or C, and that parliament MUST ratify the budget, no matter how flawed, because without a budget we cannot borrow any money in capital market.

She added that cuts will be made in the public sector, but those have to be executed ‘responsibly.’

WHAT?

When it comes to the public sector you want to exercise caution, and as far as the private sector is concerned you let it rip??

In response, the private sector came up with a fantastic list of suggestions, a plan of cuts for the government payroll. The letter, dispatched yesterday afternoon, signed by AHATA, ATIA, KVK and many more, is published on my blog.

The pressure is mounting, GOA has to take inventory, make real STRUCTURAL CUTS.

Suggestions from this morning: Sell assets, Arubus, Serlimar, Postkantoor, even LOTTO, our national lottery, it must be worth something to someone with deep pockets.

Trying to keep a lid on it

One member of parliament made a motion to lower MP’s salary for three months, by Awg 1,000 a month.

Then his coalition buddies, gave him an immediate kick in the balls calling it a cheap political trick, a cockamamie PR move, because they were going to make bigger cuts down the road. And how insulting it is to offer a miserable Awg 1,000 contribution to Aruban workers, when 25.000 just saw their last pay check.

Thus as expected, in a parliamentary vote, 9 voted against, 8 for, and 4 were absent, though they could have been contacted to vote by absentia, but one of them doesn’t give a hoot, anyway.

So what was confusing?

Wasn’t the motion discussed behind closed doors, PRIOR to parliamentary vote?

On TV, fictional, Machiavellian Vice-President Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, always voices her concern about Senate support for her proposed legislation, prior to vote, in an attempt to make her mark, push things through, and create a legacy. Doesn’t anyone here watch TV to learn how to lobby, and force their proposals in??

Perhaps GOA should hire a few lobbyists, so that motions get introduced and the votes pre-determined, because this current stealth POUNCING of proposals doesn’t work!

If you just hit them with your pearls, without working to sway their vote, it is indeed just a PR move, where the dejected may climb on his cross to show the world how righteous he is, and how mean they are.

The last thing we need at the time of corona.

I also learned that many think it is OK that GOA costs us 1.5 million florins A DAY, 50 million a month, including teachers, police, serlimar, etc., “because now is not the time to make cuts. Now, it the time to spend and invest.”

Apparently, many believe now is not the time to restructure GOA to acceptable levels of expense of value, because we are fighting a global monster.

On the other hand, many others think it is a unique opportunity to create a sustainable future: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, but slash WASTE, because with zero income, ‘man plans and the gods laugh.’

FREE Advice from an economist:

  1. The approach is backwards. They should have started with what GOA, SVB, AZV, etc. SHOULD be with an (temporary) economy of 0. Then see how they can get any additional financial support. Now it looks like they have just kept everything in place and then try to find financing for that.
  2. To make any kind of year “budget” is a waste of time. There are too many variables/unknowns. They should setup a system of financing shorter time cycles (based on step 1.) which make taking advantage of opportunities possible. It’s called Beyond Budgeting, something which many industries and governments have adopted.

From what I understand beyond budgeting means rethinking how we can manage our economy in a crazy world where everything changes every minute and where sticking to a fixed annual plan is impossible.  

So, what’s possible? Short term, goal oriented strategies.

Good news: According to statistical experts our rate of infection slowed down yesterday.

Compliments to MinPres on an excellent TV appeal last night. She is super-woman, not sure about the rest of the gang.  

A totally irrelevant story from the pre-corona days

A long, long time ago, maybe three-weeks, my friend Bill Lee recommended the Golden Wok for lunch. He said their Peking Duck is out of the world.

I really haven’t heard anyone ordering or talking about that imperial dish for many years. Some very iconic retro dishes such as Sole Veronique or Beef Wellington, Borscht or Goulash vanished from menus over the past decades, even Sachertorte, cannot be found anywhere except in Vienna, and thus the expensive, labor-intense, cruel and calorific Peking Duck disappeared too, and I did not miss it.

Until Bill sent me by WhatsApp the picture of the flattened, shiny, sugar and soy caramelized fowl, ready to be carved, then I really had to have it once more in my life, and I apologize in advance to the duck, and to the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, but the picture was irresistible.   

Many years ago, the late Roger Coster, a Peking Duck aficionado, took me on a whirlwind tour in China Town, New York, I think we stopped at three different Pekin Duck emporiums, holes in the wall restaurants, on our quest to find the best.

We stopped to admire the orange-hued hanging-to-dry ducks displayed in windows, so mouth-watering and decadent. At the time, Peking Duck came to represent China, as it received worldwide recognition, having been named a trademark in 1999. Even Fidel Castro called it his personal favorite. We did too.

So one cool October day, my birthday month, we roamed China Town in search of the perfect duck, and we waited patiently at each of the restaurants we picked, for the delicacy to be served.

Pekin Duck is carved table side. The crisp dry-roasted skin is served first, with just a little meat attached. Then the chef rolls up some of the shavings into paper thin steamed pancakes, spread with sweet bean sauce, topped with spring onions, and cucumber sticks for the crunch, between bites. The first rolled tubes are ceremoniously prepared by the chef, then he retires to the kitchen and lets diners roll their own, with a little or a lot of all remaining ingredients. Everybody likes to play with their food and there is always some left for take-out.

So, Bill urged me to call chef Anthony Tam — famous last name in Chinese restaurant circles — and discuss a culinary experience with him. As I found out later, Chef Tam recently took the Golden Wok restaurant over and has been collecting fans, since opening day.

We were welcomed into a typical Chinese restau, red lanterns and some left over Christmas decorations. The chef asked which channel we wanted on overhead TV, then returned to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on our customized deluxe meal.

We were five on the occasion, and we brought our own wine. No corking fee.

Chef Tam started us with a clear duck broth then a family style platter of spring rolls, tuna sashimi and steamed dumplings. The piece de resistance, the duck, with all delicious accoutrements, hailed from the kitchen on a platter with artistically carved radishes, for decorations. A large platter of fresh fish cooked three ways followed, the fish practically swam to our table. It was paired with a hooiberg of mixed fried rice.

No dessert yet. Chef Tam says soon, as he expands his hours of operation.

Call ahead to order your Peking Duck, one day in advance, you may order a full one or half!

For now, you must stay at home, but put this on your future bucket list.

Where is your sense of URGENCY??

GOA: Thank you for your salary cuts. About 15%. Similar to POR’s suggestion, and you wasted a full day of press articles and picture opportunities to trash it.

BUT, you said nothing about Setar, Arugas, WEB, Post Aruba, Arubus, Serlimar, Elmar and all related companies.

These all get about 17 salaries and year, and must contribute at a reasonable level, because the private sector paid their salaries all these years, now those with guaranteed employment must support the private sector.

Follow the Dutch example, with a slash of salaries across the board. This MUST happen here too.

You also wasted another full day of press articles and picture opportunities – costing 1.5 million florins a day — to show us how well you take care of yourself, assuring your source of income is protected.

What about the other 25.000

Open your eyes: All employees got cut, no time for discussion, and GOA treats itself with silk gloves.

You must help employers, help their employees.

So far all MinFec has done is reward the deadbeats, those who haven’t paid their taxes now get a 75% discount. That pisses me off, because I am paid up.  Do I now get a refund??

You are doing everything backwards.

You should reward the ones who comply, not the ones who ignore you.

MINPREs: This is you time to eliminate GOA’s waste, reduce the expense level, no one will blame you, under the crisis protection you have an opportunity to tackle core issues, and while we are grateful you took a pay cut, it will not save us, we need BIG PICTURE changes.

Hurry up with measures that help our people, so employers may put money in the pockets of workers.

In the Netherlands if your company depends 100% on tourism, the government will help pay 90% of employee salaries. The Dutch do that too for the BES islands, Bonaire for example, at 80%.

What will they help us with?

They made it clear, there are NO GIFTS. We must become lean and mean. And CFT will provide instructions how to wash this piglet.

QUESTION: Is Aruba working on a similar package now that local companies in tourism have no income and cannot pay?

You came up with a 12% or 15% discount for your salaries, that’s IT????

WHERE IS YOUR PLAN FOR THE REST OF THE ISLAND?

You now have to get a loan from the Netherlands, at a reduced rate, hopefully, maybe they will forgive some down the road, and use this money to support EMPLOYERS to help pay their employees.

The way GOA structured it, the Awg 950 will incentivizes employees to stay home, unemployed.

GOTTA support your business community because they in turn will support your people. Incentivize business people to keep their employees.

And I know, the BUSINESS COMMUNITY is working, busting its balls, to try keep heads above water, managers cut salaries up to 50%, owners down to zero, to try keep 100% of the work force.

We hear that Curacao started a Think Tank of two dozen people, ministers, the Central Bank, movers and shakers from the private sector, big business people, all coming together to forge a plan.

Is Aruba?

If you are, please share.

Why not do exactly what the Netherlands is doing and what it recommends for the BES islands.

Why come up with something new that makes no sense??

Of course if we weren’t so wasteful over the past thirty years we could have withstood the storm, GOA was told to reduce and conserve, but it held up its middle finger, but never mind that. Forget the wastefulness.  

The MINPRES finally has a chance/excuse to deal with the crisis and political rivals will not be able to blame her. MINPRES: Make the hard decisions, take a good look at how GOA operates. Step up to the plate to help employees/workers through the companies/employers.

Don’t waste time on press releases and picture opportunities.

We are running out of time.

CBA and One Foolish Island

Is CBA out of touch??

The Central Bank of Aruba, CBA, sent out consumer confidence survey yesterday.

You could have saved the graphic fees if you had asked me.

It’s ZERO

We are trying to figure out how to stretch our money for 18 months, because that what it is, at worst case scenario, I hear.

I filled in the questionnaire, I did not save the questions for later reference, but I distinctly remember that as I was answering them my brain refused to believe what I was reading.

REALLY? Is that what you want to ask me now??

Will you buy a car now, will you apply for a mortgage now, OF COURSE not.

Will you take out a loan? For food, medicine, yes, but which bank will approve that??

Don’t you read my column? (That was arrogant.)

We are mid WORST global crisis ever, this survey is useless in extraordinary times, you should conserve your energy to work on macro-economic strategies and tactics to save us, and porfa prevent the florin from tanking.

 

#Covid19 #theyjustdontgetit

I went walking, solo, on Friday, 5:30pm, with the helicopter spinning circles overhead. The traffic up and down the lighthouse road was heavy. The chopper was circulating, pissed, so many people misbehaving, and he just had to hang up high, a powerless witness.

Toward Arashi, where the road bends at the back-gate to TDS, an ATV was flipped on its side, its cooler emptied on the road, a mix of shattered glass, plastic bottles, ice, and sandwich bags.

The two women on the side of the road seemed dazed, but their two companion criminals, the ones they were on paranda with, pushed them back into their seats once they righted the ATV, and then a desperate number of ignition failures finally led to success, the engine coughed, but it was alive.

Aren’t you going to pick up your trash, I asked, into the air, chopper twirling nervously overhead.

The two criminals looked at me as if I was a bothersome mosquito, spun their vehicle around and sped down the road. Adios losers.

I collected my thoughts a bit, I was not going to pick up the debris, nor was I going to touch anything, but I was troubled.  #Covid19 #theyjustdontgetit

Just as I was getting on the Arashi stretch of the road, a young biker, wearing a helmet, and an older, morbidly obese quad rider, flew by, revving their engines.

Guess what, two police cars, lights on, rumbler siren on #GETOUTOFMYWAY loudly, came storming down the street.  I jumped, startled. Five minute later the two biking criminals came charging down the Lighthouse hill having escaped the Police, they gunned their bikes as the past me, to spite.

I couldn’t even hold up a middle finger.

Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. I felt such immense sadness, and frustration. Such as assault on the senses, on common sense, on decency, on safety. By that time, I reached Arashi filled with locals and their kids with coolers, wet towels, and chairs, as if they knew nothing about our nuked economy and the serious threat to our ONE HAPPY ISLAND, I accepted the fact that I live on One Foolish Island, instead.  

Thank you MinPres for the decision to oblige SHELTER IN PLACE. Good move, and much needed.

Follow the BES islands Strategy

The MinFec called me on Saturday, she read my column and was especially touched by readers’ comments and wanted to assure me and the readership that the leadership of this country is in good hands, women with heart and courage, who have been working tirelessly, making many personal sacrifices, to help pull us over the hump, by making the tough decisions.

She assured me she was not starting fires among allies, but true to her reputation as the Charming Minister, conducts negotiations with just one goal in mind, to support her people in hard times.

I totally believed her, and would like to take a minute to acknowledge these daily/nightly TV performers from the various departments, mostly women, who do their best to instill confidence and inspired calm.

THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts

The thank you to the medical and support staff, excellent specialists, nurses, lab techs, pharmacy workers, DVG, handling this tsunami. You are admired and appreciated.

The MinFec also mentioned an ongoing string of meetings with experts, and I just wanted to add that I would feel better if she added business people to the mix, owners, such as Eduardo de Veer, Eddie de Veer, Rik Timmer, Warren Stanley, Frans Ponson, Kenneth Ponson, Ronnie van Trigt, Rene Kan, all bankers, AHATA representatives, to support the capable Nilo Swaen who perhaps economist not sure.

We would love to see people with real business experience, for a TWO PRONG approach, one team for survival and one for recovery (more about that tomorrow)

Teams of smart, professional people with real business experience.

We cannot burden the Minister of Tourism, Health & Sport and the Minister of Transport, Communication & Primary Sector with this herring, because their life experience hasn’t prepared them for a crisis of that magnitude, sure they are handsome, ambitious, educated, and the members of the right party, but we should use other criteria now, for the drivers of our bus, Hellen v/d Val? Jossy Lacle? Aruba has a good arsenal of brains in the private sector.

First things first:

We need to move now on the international loan, and move yesterday with a plan to hand in to the Netherlands for assistance.

Curacao is seriously working on a plan and many Caribbean islands already published what they are about to do, preventing companies from going under, helping employees

Aruba?

ARUBA SHOULD LOBBY FOR THE BES MEASURES FOR COMPENSATION WHICH IS A PERCENTAGE of LABOR COSTS BASED ON LOSS OF REVENUE.

This is exactly what the Netherlands is doing, and I talked about it before. Curacao is also pushing this agenda, and we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, we should join the party.

For those who lost 100% of their revenue, GOA pays 80% of employee salaries. This will save hotels, restaurants, retail shops and laundries from going under. Employers will keep their employees. The BES islands will be granted that arrangement and Aruba should lobby for that too. 

If GOA stick to its plan of individual Awg 950 subsidy, it encourages companies to let their employees go.

QUESTION: Why don’t we follow a true and tried strategy?

It is too time consuming to try invent an alternative strategy, why not follow a tested recipe??>
We have no time.

We will be in hot water within three weeks when people have no money to buy food, including the illegals invisibly living among us.

What is Aruba’s approach? When will it be implemented?

And from the rumblings on social media, I see that there is little communication going out to those affected. GOA must communicate before people take drastic actions.

Free economic advice from a highly regarded professional: For this type of challenge you need the people from statistics, belastingdienst, AZV, SVB, some smart people who understand numbers, and you start modeling /calculating per sector how much the sector will be affected (100%, 80%, 50%), salaries and expenses and how much should be covered by GOA. You do this per sector which will bring you to a magic number required to cover expenses for the next months.

So far here, we saw the ministers and the parliamentarians talking about taking a salary cut, and may we gently add the suggestion that they should be paid according to the number of days, they actually show up for work, because some rarely do!

CBA and One Foolish Island

Is CBA out of touch??

The Central Bank of Aruba, CBA, sent out consumer confidence survey yesterday.

You could have saved the graphic fees if you had asked me.

It’s ZERO

We are trying to figure out how to stretch our money for 18 months, because that what it is, at worst case scenario, I hear.

I filled in the questionnaire, I did not save the questions for later reference, but I distinctly remember that as I was answering them my brain refused to believe what I was reading.

REALLY? Is that what you want to ask me now??

Will you buy a car now, will you apply for a mortgage now, OF COURSE not.

Will you take out a loan? For food, medicine, yes, but which bank will approve that??

Don’t you read my column? (That was arrogant.)

We are mid WORST global crisis ever, this survey is useless in extraordinary times, you should conserve your energy to work on macro-economic strategies and tactics to save us, and porfa prevent the florin from tanking.

#Covid19 #theyjustdontgetit

I went walking, solo, on Friday, 5:30pm, with the helicopter spinning circles overhead. The traffic up and down the lighthouse road was heavy. The chopper was circulating, pissed, so many people misbehaving, and he just had to hang up high, a powerless witness.

Toward Arashi, where the road bends at the back-gate to TDS, an ATV was flipped on its side, its cooler emptied on the road, a mix of shattered glass, plastic bottles, ice, and sandwich bags.

The two women on the side of the road seemed dazed, but their two companion criminals, the ones they were on paranda with, pushed them back into their seats once they righted the ATV, and then a desperate number of ignition failures finally led to success, the engine coughed, but it was alive.

Aren’t you going to pick up your trash, I asked, into the air, chopper twirling nervously overhead.

The two criminals looked at me as if I was a bothersome mosquito, spun their vehicle around and sped down the road. Adios losers.

I collected my thoughts a bit, I was not going to pick up the debris, nor was I going to touch anything, but I was troubled.  #Covid19 #theyjustdontgetit

Just as I was getting on the Arashi stretch of the road, a young biker, wearing a helmet, and an older, morbidly obese quad rider, flew by, revving their engines.

Guess what, two police cars, lights on, rumbler siren on #GETOUTOFMYWAY loudly, came storming down the street.  I jumped, startled. Five minute later the two biking criminals came charging down the Lighthouse hill having escaped the Police, they gunned their bikes as the past me, to spite.

I couldn’t even hold up a middle finger.

Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. I felt such immense sadness, and frustration. Such as assault on the senses, on common sense, on decency, on safety. By that time, I reached Arashi filled with locals and their kids with coolers, wet towels, and chairs, as if they knew nothing about our nuked economy and the serious threat to our ONE HAPPY ISLAND, I accepted the fact that I live on One Foolish Island, instead.  

Thank you MinPres for the decision to oblige SHELTER IN PLACE. Good move, and much needed.

Follow the BES islands Strategy

The MinFec called me on Saturday, she read my column and was especially touched by readers’ comments and wanted to assure me and the readership that the leadership of this country is in good hands, women with heart and courage, who have been working tirelessly, making many personal sacrifices, to help pull us over the hump, by making the tough decisions.

She assured me she was not starting fires among allies, but true to her reputation as the Charming Minister, conducts negotiations with just one goal in mind, to support her people in hard times.

I totally believed her, and would like to take a minute to acknowledge these daily/nightly TV performers from the various departments, mostly women, who do their best to instill confidence and inspired calm.

THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts

The thank you to the medical and support staff, excellent specialists, nurses, lab techs, pharmacy workers, DVG, handling this tsunami. You are admired and appreciated.

The MinFec also mentioned an ongoing string of meetings with experts, and I just wanted to add that I would feel better if she added business people to the mix, owners, such as Eduardo de Veer, Eddie de Veer, Rik Timmer, Warren Stanley, Frans Ponson, Kenneth Ponson, Ronnie van Trigt, Rene Kan, all bankers, AHATA representatives, to support the capable Nilo Swaen who perhaps economist not sure.

We would love to see people with real business experience, for a TWO PRONG approach, one team for survival and one for recovery (more about that tomorrow)

Teams of smart, professional people with real business experience.

We cannot burden the Minister of Tourism, Health & Sport and the Minister of Transport, Communication & Primary Sector with this herring, because their life experience hasn’t prepared them for a crisis of that magnitude, sure they are handsome, ambitious, educated, and the members of the right party, but we should use other criteria now, for the drivers of our bus, Hellen v/d Val? Jossy Lacle? Aruba has a good arsenal of brains in the private sector.

First things first:

We need to move now on the international loan, and move yesterday with a plan to hand in to the Netherlands for assistance.

Curacao is seriously working on a plan and many Caribbean islands already published what they are about to do, preventing companies from going under, helping employees

Aruba?

ARUBA SHOULD LOBBY FOR THE BES MEASURES FOR COMPENSATION WHICH IS A PERCENTAGE of LABOR COSTS BASED ON LOSS OF REVENUE.

This is exactly what the Netherlands is doing, and I talked about it before. Curacao is also pushing this agenda, and we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, we should join the party.

For those who lost 100% of their revenue, GOA pays 80% of employee salaries. This will save hotels, restaurants, retail shops and laundries from going under. Employers will keep their employees. The BES islands will be granted that arrangement and Aruba should lobby for that too. 

If GOA stick to its plan of individual Awg 950 subsidy, it encourages companies to let their employees go.

QUESTION: Why don’t we follow a true and tried strategy?

It is too time consuming to try invent an alternative strategy, why not follow a tested recipe??>
We have no time.

We will be in hot water within three weeks when people have no money to buy food, including the illegals invisibly living among us.

What is Aruba’s approach? When will it be implemented?

And from the rumblings on social media, I see that there is little communication going out to those affected. GOA must communicate before people take drastic actions.

Free economic advice from a highly regarded professional: For this type of challenge you need the people from statistics, belastingdienst, AZV, SVB, some smart people who understand numbers, and you start modeling /calculating per sector how much the sector will be affected (100%, 80%, 50%), salaries and expenses and how much should be covered by GOA. You do this per sector which will bring you to a magic number required to cover expenses for the next months.

So far here, we saw the ministers and the parliamentarians talking about taking a salary cut, and may we gently add the suggestion that they should be paid according to the number of days, they actually show up for work, because some rarely do!

 

Share on:

April 05, 2020
Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster