Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, May 10th, 2020

NOW IS THE TIME

ATV/UTV, we must move GOA to act, it will now be considered needed and responsible!

At the beginning of the year, and then again in October, and now in May of the following year, AHATA send the Minister of Transport, Communication and Primary Sector Government of Aruba Oranjestad, a letter.

It expressed AHATA’s concerns regarding UTV vehicles and tourists on Aruba, and it was received by the minister TWICE, recommending new regulation for reasons of safety of our tourists and the reputation of our island. Additionally, it warned against the increasing toll the large number of vehicles imposes on our flora and fauna, and local neighborhoods

AHATA stands for tourism companies that operate in a responsible and safe manner, the letter said, and we endorse introduction of regulation to ensure safe circumstances for our tourists, our community, and to protect natural habitats. In consultation with our members that operate UTV tours, we had compiled the attached set of regulations to propose for legislation, it stated.

The strong letter also requested that the rules be introduced by law AND by a sound plan for enforcement and a clear definition of which agency is authorized and responsible for such enforcement.

Repercussions for lack of compliance? The letter endorsed fines, and eventual loss of permits, by offenders.

WAS ANY PROGRESS MADE?

It seems like ziltch, though the letter was addressed to the Minister of Tourism, Public Health and Sport, and to the Minister of Justice, Security, and Integration, who both have a stake in the issue.

The following was suggested, for UTV Operators:

  1. Strict enforcement of required permits and regulations to be able to operate.
  2. Ban the rental of UTV/ATV vehicles directly to individuals. Rental is only allowed by a registered operator in a guided tour (caravan style).
  3. Max size of a caravan is 10, including 1 guide in front, 1 guide in back and 8 tourist vehicles in between.
  4. If vehicles are owned or leased, all rules and requirements must be complied with (including proper license plates, insurance, etc).
  5. Every operator must have an insurance policy which includes liability insurance with a minimum of USD $1M coverage per incident.
  6. All operators must have a written safety manual and proof that every employee has read and signed it.
  7. Safety and rules briefing for each tourist driver is required, prior to start of tours.
  8. Every operator must have a set of written Accident & Incident Procedures dealing with the handling of guests in the event of an accident/incident.
  9. A properly stocked first aid kit must always be in the guide vehicle.
  10. Every guide must have properly working cell phone in the event of emergencies.
  11. Every guide/driver must have a “green card” (health card).
  12. Minimum age for guides is 25 years.
  13. Minimum age to drive the vehicle is 23 years.
  14. Minimum age for passengers is 12 years.
  15. Every guide must be first aid certified and be recertified annually.
  16. Every vehicle must be inspected by the authorities annually and can be determined to be beyond their lifespan after 18 months (lifespan can vary depending on type of UTV vehicle, a Sports Side Vehicle has a longer lifespan with off-roading than farming vehicles, for example).
  17. Every vehicle must be equipped with turn-signal lights, and governors to regulate speed.
  18. UTV’s are required to be well-maintained and Operators are required to keep up to date maintenance records of every vehicle which must be made available for inspection by the authorities upon request.
  19. Dangerous maneuvers such as fishtailing, donuts, driving in undesignated areas or off the trail are prohibited by all drivers.
  20. Guides are required to respect and protect local flora and fauna.
  21. Ban the vehicles from certain roads/main arteries (such as Irausquin Blvd, L.G. Smith Blvd, Downtown, etc.)

Additionally:

22. Protect certain trails/areas from use by any motorized vehicles. Note: Need to determine what authority is responsible for ensuring compliance and the consequences of or penalties for non-compliance.

If you read through the suggested regulation it’s all common sense, and nothing excessive. The free for all fosters resentment. It is in the interest of the Operators to regulate.

Minister, fish or cut the bait!

Storage wanted

In recent weeks the price of a crude oil barrel reached a negative $37 which means that producers were paying their customers, to take the stuff off their hands, because we’re not flying, we’re not driving, cruise ships are in dock, and industry is not burning as much fuel as before, the normal demand for oil diminished, yet production remained the same.

It’s difficult to shut down an oil field.

Where would you keep the sticky stuff?

Thirty million barrels in excess, per day.

Anywhere willing to take it, storage tank, ships, reserve systems, tankers.

Imagine, from $147 at its peak to negative $37 a barrel.

Which brings us to Aruba and the former Wickland facility. We’re in the news:

 https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2102133-aruba-offering-oil-storage-after-pdvh-exit

“Aruba has 10 available storage tanks with capacity for 665,000 bl of clean products, 5.224mn bl of crude and 518,000 bl of naphtha, according to promotional material obtained by Argus. Another seven tanks currently awaiting repairs have capacity for 4.224mn bl of crude.”

The estimated net revenue would be at least 5mn florins ($2.8mn per month).

According to the above article it will take about a month to complete some maintenance work around the jetties and tanks and look at offers that are pouring in from around the world.

My friends report Aruba would be better off leasing the storage facility to a third party oil storage company to manage, and worry about the ins and outs and the price of crude, and the availability on the global market. Aruba would be better served just collecting a steady commission instead of running the show itself.

But then knowing the people in charge, they will not make a decisions based on what’s good for Aruba, they will be making decisions based on what fits their agenda.  

Evicted

Legally we all understand the verdict. The home ‘owner’ got the right to evict his tenant in October. The tenant got 6 months to relocate, and did not move. Thus at deadline, the bailiff showed up to place the washing machine in the street. Again, legally we understand the letter of the law followed by the judge but the actions are morally despicable.

An eviction mid-pandemic. Very bad timing. And it’s not like the home was needed urgently, for transfer to a new owner, and it’s not like the owner was desperate for a place to live himself.

My learned friends believe the justice system here became fed up with the former couple ripping each other’s throat out forever, wasting the court’s time. The judge must have been weary, when he allowed the ax to fall.

And this very public case, is an extremely bad precedent for many others, who will now suffer from morally despicable evictions, based on this precedent.

Didn’t we place a moratorium on eviction at the onset of the pandemic?

Interestingly, the court rushed out to publish the verdict on a SUNDAY, knowing it will be met by criticism, and wishing to suppress outrage.

But I was outraged anyway. A woman, a mother, who built her own house, sweet-talked into an unfavorable sale/lease agreement by a grease ball former lover/employer, where it is uncertain if she got paid, and her appeal to the court arrived late. The way she handled her affairs, wasn’t smart at all.

Marriages and love affairs fall part. Such is the nature of our consumer society which rarely bothers to repair anything. But people have the right for happiness post-divorce, and should not hold each other hostage, for the sake of control.

These two, could not get out of each other’s way, and remained locked and entangled. There is a lesson here.        

An opinion by former minister Angel Bermudez

An article by a former business-minister, Angel Bermudez, in response to a publication by economist Ben Marapin. I will also publish Marapin’s opinion, but for now here we go with Bermudez, translated from Dutch

He raises many interesting points, worth public discussion.

“Our millennials must redefine the meaning of our Aruban autonomy together with the Netherlands (and a number of other sister islands?)”

The opinion article ‘Unexpected visit of the corona virus to Aruba,’ in Antillean Dagblad on Saturday by economic advisor Ben Marapin, in which he describes the origin of the current challenge, is clear and I would like to leave this type of analysis to economists and accountants.

However, I would like to add a number of nuances, for further discussion.

The tourism economy, the white elephant of Aruba has been on its back since mid-March 2020; national borders are closed, hotels and restaurants dark.

Evidently this means major loss of income for GOA, business, and locals, as well as the loss of needed foreign exchange.

In my opinion, a comparison of this crisis with that of 1985 is flawed: In my opinion, the current crisis is more serious than that of 35 years ago. At the time, we had access to both continents: The US and the Netherlands. Moreover, we still had the charm of a young country that tried to give substance to its newly acquired autonomy and future.

Nobody was afraid to lend a hand.

Both factors are now missing; the US and the Netherlands have also been hit hard by the pandemic, with all its dramatic consequences, while Aruba has accumulated a loss of approximately 4,500,000,000 florins in 35 years of autonomy.

No reason, therefore, to expect any solidarity.

Moreover, solidarity is usually reciprocal and it was not, for example, brought up by the islands during the austerity or austerity years of the first Rutte cabinet.

We should not be surprised that a request for help, for a transfer of 1,300,000,000 florins only resulted in a stern response: “Put order in your house, first.”

The aforementioned accumulated loss is due, to mediocre institutionalized financial management over the 35 years, but it is also decisive proof that our economy can never, ever, sustain that autonomy.

Apparently, we didn’t learn anything from the Holloway debacle, the global banking collapse, the SARS crisis, etc.

Most of our income, and therefore GOA’s income, is generated nationally by the tourist sector.

So this white elephant is on its back and the government is flat broke.

Most companies have seen their sales evaporate overnight and are therefore forced to lay off in mass.

Now that we are slowly but surely awakening from the shock of Covid19, the question is obvious: How do we get the white elephant back on its feet? GOA now needs hundreds of millions in liquidity for the social safety net, and for locals who have lost their income.

The wage subsidy should therefor “defuse” the ticking socio-economic time bomb, for a while.

Tens of thousands of locals with no income to pay their rent, shop or cover other needs is an excellent recipe for disaster.

Likewise, the expected liquidity needs are high for business, which can hardly sustain its regular fixed costs. But the private sector will be able to achieve the necessary cost minimization, in an effort to get the white elephant back on its feet.

The government cannot just watch!

If it wants the Netherlands to assume its responsibility as “lender of last resort”, it must demonstrate decisiveness.

Indeed, GOA’S personnel costs must be sharply reduced, as must those of the state-owned companies. Transparency is badly needed here.

Another must: Broad political support. So all parties and all sectors must seriously be involved in the effort, so that the sacrifices made are perceived legitimate and just by the community.

Setting up a “corona crisis fund” that can provide bridge loans to companies under favorable conditions is a good move. This fund should be backed by the Netherlands, Aruba and the local financial institutions.

Management should be carried out by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and the Centrale Bank van Aruba (CBA), with the help of local experts and institutes.

Opportunity now also becomes the question, whether we should restore the “old” normal. Meaning, how big should the white elephant be allowed to grow?

With the boundless expansion of hotel rooms, Aruba has steadily built an economy for second-class citizens. Welcoming tens of thousands of Latinos in the low-wage sector who can hardly afford an apartment and therefore often live together in clusters. Most of them work to support their families in their homeland, and often cannot even afford an old and cheap RWD car.

From now on, let the big employers themselves own the legality of their foreign workers. In the case of mandatory repatriation, these employers must bear the costs themselves; they select the right work force themselves and the mediocre worker can return to their homeland.

The big employers have professional HR departments (human resources) who know exactly which hands they need to recruit and get the white elephant up and keep it ticking.

GOA’s departments such as DAO (Department of Labor and Research) and DPL (Departamento Progreso Laboral) cannot compete with these HR departments.

GOA should focus its enforcement on small entrepreneurs who often pay their workers under the table, and abandon their foreign workers to illegality.

We baby-boomers must now make way for our millennials who have the future and so together with the owners of the white elephant must determine how it can function sustainably!

Aruba must come up with a common vision, quickly, for how the ‘new’ normal should be. This perspective must be broadly supported by all parties and sectors, including the FTA (Federacion di Trahadornan di Aruba) and other unions.

GOA should only act as a facilitator in this regard; ensuring innovation of our outdated regulations, infrastructure and logistics including digitization.

Meanwhile, unprofitable departments that do not produce value, should be offered to the private sector. (Arubus, Aruparking etc)

Allow financial institutions to finance this privatization then money will come into the treasury and GOA’s payroll will shrink, services will become more effective, etc.

Above all, transparency in all public companies must be a norm with annual reports published including remuneration structure, annual payments of dividends, etc.

Finally, with an accumulated loss of more than 4.5 billion in 35 years, financing new losses for Aruba will be virtually impossible.

Autonomy in this form thus appears neither realistic nor affordable.

Our fragile economy cannot bear it, despite more hotels and more foreign workers.

Our millennials have to review the definition of our autonomy together with the Netherlands (and a number of sister islands?).

The quality of our tourism must be the guiding principle here and hopefully operators will still find the path to ‘sustainability.’

If not, the quality of education, healthcare, environmental protection and safety will not be guaranteed by the aging white elephant and all sacrifices and financial assistance will only lead to the beating of a dead horse.

The author, Angel Bermudez, is a former Minister of Finance of Aruba (2014-2017) and also a former Minister of Transport and Communications (1987-1989). In both appointments, he indicated that he would act as a partisan minister of trade. He studied Civil and Business Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam and obtained his postdoctoral Fiscal Law at Leiden University. After his inspector training, Bermudez returned to Aruba, where he became head of the Tax Inspectorate. Between 1989 and 2010 he worked as a tax specialist in the private sector. From 2011 to 2014, Bermudez was director of the Tax Authorities of the Caribbean Netherlands on Bonaire. In 2017, he became head of the Zorgverzekeringskantoor BES (ZVK).

MPs urged to earn their salaries by delivering value to their people

By Armand Hessels

www.deugdelijkbestuuraruba.org
www.harmoniAruba.org

On April 29th 2020, in view of the Covid19 spread, the Parliament of Aruba made an important decision, reducing its salaries by 25%. In addition, all regional travel was stopped. That piece of good news is in effect until December 2020. However, for a number of reasons outlined here, the writer of this column believes the reduction should be permanent.

Moneygrubbing
On July 14, 1997, the MPs unanimously passed a law, in a rush, and in secrecy, designed to immensely improve their legal and financial position. Among others, the MPs almost doubled their salaries, and awarded themselves full pension, when reaching fifty, after serving just three, four-year cycles. Full pension after 12 years of work.

This ruling was hidden from the community. And was AGAINST the advice of: Servicio Central di Accountant, Directie Personal y Organisashon, Controlaria General, Conseho di Consulta, Directie Wetgeving and Banco Central.

The MPS ignored all form of protest against expensive travel and endless international meetings they attended. That was back in 2014, when the age of pension was raised to 65. But still MPs became entitled, and assigned themselves many privileges.

Parliamentary practice
Over the next years, the performance of our MPs did not improve, as much as their almost-illegal pay raise. On the contrary, they continued to blindly approve what GOA dictated and justly earned a nickname: Rubber stamp parliament, Stempelparlement.

The MPs totally neglected their checks and balance responsibility and for reasons that were always deemed important, postponed many parliament meetings.

And that is why Aruba is the only country in the kingdom without political party- finance law, ombudsman, consumer protection and environmental law. The MPs did zero work on our constitution, and did not handle any new issues adequately.

AND that is why the MPs are also responsible for the enormous financial disaster of Aruba and that is the reason why Aruba arrived at the Covid19 pandemic as an intensive care patient.

Perspective
Undoubtedly, the collapse of Aruba’s economy has long term consequences. The large number of unemployed in the US, over 30 million, means that they are in recession that is likely to turn into a depression, considerably affecting OUR level of prosperity.

Under these circumstances, a fast recovery is improbable.

To survive, Aruba needs a lot of financial help and for a long period of time. But because of the heavy weight of existing debt, loans from international capital markets are unobtainable.

In reality only the Netherlands in prepared to help

A great part of that help is in the form of loans which will further burden Aruba, and the process of paying these loans back with interest will cripple the island into the future, for years to come.

We will have to economize, seriously, and that is why Aruba’s MPs CANNOT regain their full compensation after just a short or even medium term, of 7 to 12 months. The reduction of salary is here to stay.

General advice

For decades, for political partisan reason, GOA’s salary system was negatively affected, not only for politicians but also for other public sector employees. The system abused the concept of allowance, or grants, or subsidies, inflating salaries, rewarding services excessively, in spite of often warning and recommendation. The system never implemented corrections.

The last attempt of Directie Personal y Organisashon at salary reform and revision was in 2006. As became the political custom, the issue was never addressed and it continued to linger.

As we realize now, the current crisis calls for a reform and revision of practically everything, and it is a perfect opportunity for lasting, sustainable change.

We hope the MPs will use the next 18 months of compulsory island-stay to work on an efficient and effective way to recover from all the mistakes made in the last 34 years.

And consequently because of the Corona crisis, for the first time in history, MPs will give the people of Aruba true value in exchange of their salaries, paid for by local sweat and tears.

Part I of Ben Marapin’s article from Antillean Dagblad

The visit of the corona virus to Aruba.
The economy of Aruba turned almost entirely on tourism until mid-March 2020, but the island was not spared from the worldwide pandemic caused by the coronavirus.

Since March 16th, 2020, there has been a “lockdown” and as a result the tourist sector has come to a complete standstill.

A small consolation is the contribution of the timeshare industry, which still receives maintenance fees in foreign currency.

Public finances, which for more than 10 years (although declining but still strong) demonstrated major structural deficits, were threatened by the sharp drop in income, are now no longer able to pay even the most essential things, including salaries.

Moreover, due to the precarious financial situation, it was also impossible to obtain a loan on the international capital market. The Netherlands was approached of necessity for Awg. 1.3 billion in budget support, more than half of which as a gift.

The Netherlands judged the request to be insufficiently substantiated. Given the seriousness of the situation, the Netherlands has made €20 million available fairly quickly, with which Aruba was able to deal with the worst emergency for six weeks, with a condition that it must come up with a detailed action plan before May 1st, 2020, which can serve as a basis for further support from the Netherlands.

The economic downturn in 2020
According to the Central Bank of Aruba Annual Statistical Digest 2018, the country’s GDP was Awg 5,734 billion. Concrete quantitative analyzes of the current crisis is not yet available. The department of Economic Affairs, Trade and Industry (DEZHI) has made an analysis of the impact of Covid19 on the GDP of 2020 and estimated it to fall between 30% – 40%.

The main problem, however, is that due to the stagnation of the tourist sector, foreign exchange earnings have largely disappeared. Local production, with water and electricity as main products, also have a large import component. (importing the fuel, required to run our energy plant.)

Government
The major part of all income, and thus also GOA’s income is generated (directly and indirectly) by the tourist sector. This largely disappeared for now, and the near future. The recently approved budget with more than Awg 1.5 billion in both income and expenditure, required a drastic revision.

The private sector

The entire private sector was hit hard by the crisis. Companies that were completely dependent on tourism for their turnover have seen it drop to almost zero, resulting in mass layoffs.

Companies that depend on purchasing power are also hit hard by the decline in the GDP and therefore have to make substantial cutbacks, and lay off staff.

Action plan
In the short term, GOA  needs at least several hundred million for the social safety net, to support the fired masses. The local capital market is unable to finance this.

Due to the direct impact of a local loan of this size on the foreign exchange reserve, this should be avoided for now, and because borrowing on the international capital market is not an option, the Netherlands had to assume its responsibility as a “lender of last resort,” within the kingdom.

The Netherlands has asked Aruba for more far-reaching measures as a condition for follow-up support.
These measures were prepared in time for the deadline. One of the most important measures is to significantly reduce GOA’s personnel costs. State-owned companies also have to significantly reduce their personnel costs.

GOA must also make every effort to ensure that income of other stakeholders such as the medical and financial sectors, is also affected in more than symbolic sacrifices, so that the crisis is spread around fairly, and that Sacrificio cu Solidaridad should be the guiding principle.

Wage subsidy
This measure was subsequently added to the action plan, after the Aruba Board of financial supervision, CAFT, had “recommended” it.  CAft has not provided any substantiated reasoning for this recommendation.

There are several arguments AGAINST a wage subsidy in Aruba.

The Aruban economy mainly revolves around tourism, which is a service industry. The workforce in this industry can be adapted to turnover without major technical consequences for the infrastructure. Because Aruba has no unemployment benefits, except for a one-time cessantia benefit, a very modest social assistance benefit, a wage subsidy means (unnecessarily) extra high expenditure for the government.

Companies that had hardly any raison-d’être before the crisis will certainly use the wage subsidy to muddle on, which is de facto an expensive reprieve.

A large proportion of foreign workers need a work and residence permit. Without a wage subsidy, a large part will become unemployed and will therefore have to return to their country as soon as possible. Their (temporary) return to their country will not only save the public treasury, but also the AZV directly, because their premium contribution is often not cost-effective.

Aruba does not have an optimal control system for fraud and corruption. Wage subsidy will therefore encourage both fraud and corruption.

Part II of Ben Marapin’s article from Antillean Dagblad

Private sector financial support
Despite layoffs, many healthy companies found themselves in need of urgent cash to survive the temporary crisis. This crucial aspect of speed, was not included in the action plan.
The expected liquidity needs are so great that the local banking system cannot be considered capable of providing it, also because the risks are excessive. One solution could be to set up a corona crisis fund, which may provide bridge loans under favorable conditions to companies that are considered capable of operating successfully again after the crisis.

Corona Crisis Fund
This fund can be set up with the participation of the Netherlands, Aruba and the Aruban financial sector. The Aruban Investment bank, AIB bank, which was set up to combat the 1985 crisis, has extensive experience and expertise and will be able to manage this fund well. Because the loans must be granted to companies under favorable conditions, though some may still be in danger of folding, the fund will have to be managed independently from the regular banking affairs of the AIB bank.

Extent of the financial support
It is not possible to determine objectively the size of the financial support. Perhaps the financial support given in 1985 in the form of a soft loan, could serve as a guideline.
Aruba then received, under the condition of carrying out the adjustment program drawn up by the IMF, more than Awg 100 million in a budget loan. That was almost 15% of the Aruban GDP of 1986. Assuming a decrease of GDP in 2020 at 35% to ± Awg 3.9 billion, this means a corresponding budget support of ± Awg 585 million.
There are important differences between the two crises involved in the above analogy.

The 1985 crisis was of a structural nature. The biggest challenge was to (further) develop sectors that could replace the oil sector.

The tourist sector proved to be the savior for this. Major hotel projects, including Golden Tulip and Hyatt Regency, had already started in 1985, which immediately led to employment and foreign exchange inflow. The extremely high unemployment that threatened was tempered by the departure of many Arubans, mainly to the Netherlands.
In addition, substantial profit tax receipts from the refinery, received by the government were not fully spent and therefore added some financial backing. Together with the budget loan of more than 100 million Awg and giving guarantees to large projects in the hotel sector, Aruba managed to quickly not only overcome the crisis, but ultimately make Aruba one of the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean area with a GDP per capita of over Awg 52,000.00 (US $29,000.00).

The current crisis is temporary in nature. The point now is to keep the economic infrastructure, especially that of the tourist sector, intact, and to make the necessary sacrifices in a solidarity-based manner.

The chances that projects that generate employment and foreign exchange will be started up in the very short term are virtually nil.

Moreover, the government currently does not have any buffers and / or lending capacity to provide a costly social safety net and to provide much needed support to the private sector.

The current crisis is therefore more serious than that of 1985.

The size of the social safety net and support to the private sector will therefore depend on how much support the Netherlands is willing to provide. Comparing to budget support in 1985, this will now exceed Awg 585 million

Dealing with the crisis: A task for all of us
This national crisis can only be overcome well if every stakeholder takes responsibility. This period of economic silence is ideally suited for remediation at individual, sectoral and government level. In addition to GOA, it is often the tourist sector that has exhibited excesses for quite some time, which have proved to be quite disadvantageous.

The private sector: Corporate Social Responsibility.
A large number of companies can, in principle, suffer less from the crisis, including the medical and financial sector, because of their economic and social power. The medical sector, which is paid by AZV, could / should agree through negotiations, to lower prices and rates. The financial sector that has the strongest economic position must now show its social entrepreneurship to the fullest, something that it has hardly shown, to date.

The Unions: Critical Reasonableness
Until now, unions in the private sector have taken a reasonable stance, which was also the case during the crisis of 1985. The letter recently sent to the Netherlands by trade unions for GOA and state-owned personnel uses financial blackmail, attempting to force GOA to negotiate further with unions which created the impression that these unions are not (yet) reasonable.

This was also the case during the crisis of 1985. An ironic detail is that these unions represent employees, who, together with employees in the financial sector, are among the best-paid in our market.

GOA: Consider before you start
This is as mentioned a temporary crisis (the severity of which cannot be estimated in advance) and the action plan must be as clear-headed as possible. If GOA fails to react, there will be many avoidable expenses that will place an additional burden on the already heavily taxed future. Especially now, it is important for GOA to acquire foresight, and attempt to look into the future.

The arguments AGAINST wage subsidies have been sufficiently explained above, and should therefore be considered.

Another conclusion is the commitment to agriculture, that is seen as a weapon against the crisis. In the past, various ministers, including the late Daniel Leo and former-minister Robertico Croes, have made agriculture one of the priorities of their policy.

Despite these efforts, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP is negligible, namely less than 0.2%. Even if the proposed policy is successful, and the contribution of agriculture is increased tenfold, the contribution would remain marginal towards the GDP, which suffered a ± 35% loss recently, barely ¼%.
However, at GOA’s invitation, many individuals have volunteered to obtain rented land to practice agriculture on it, sacrificing extremely scarce space.

Many people, whether or not with dependent family members, are forced to live with their parents or in rental apartments due to a shortage of affordable owner-occupied homes. A large part has requested a leasehold lot, but the question is whether, given the scarcity of land, everyone will be able to get a leasehold lot at all. The (accelerated) issue of rental land for agriculture will only exacerbate this major social problem.

Netherlands: Two points of view
The Netherlands has always promoted its international economic interests in a social guise. It was the business person who put economic interests first, while the pastor or priest called attention to local social issues.
However, the current crisis calls for both to be equally involved
One of the core pillars of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is mutual solidarity. The help offered Aruba so far is perfunctory, and certainly not a sign of solidarity.

The main argument is that under the watchful but apparently indifferent eye of the Netherlands, supposed to oversee Aruba’s loans on the international capital market, the Netherlands turned a blind eye to the island’s increasing debt from less than 50% of the GDP to ± 90% of the GDP, disqualifying it from getting any loans on the international capital market.

Seeing the recent credit ratings of Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, we can clearly see that the Netherlands is partly responsible for the de-facto financial bankruptcy of present-day Aruba.
The Netherlands must therefore be prepared to assist Aruba with at least 15% of the expected GDP in 2020. In order to avoid a significant currency loss, similar to the one that occurred with the assistance loan in 1985; It is necessary that the loan part of the assistance is provided in US$ or that the currency risk is immediately hedged.

The business person can play an important role as the purse-holder and critically monitor the financial assistance and make sure it complies with the financial assistance conditions. Responsible use of the financial assistance is in the interest of Aruba, and must therefore be fully embraced.

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May 10, 2020
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