Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, May 5th, 2019

AHATA IS CONCERNED ABOUT MISLEADING TOURISM SALARY INFORMATION

The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association has reviewed the recently published Economic Policy for 2019-2022 of the Aruba government, and wishes to clarify employment salary information included in the document.

On Page 26 of the “A Strong and Resilient Economy” policy, it is stated that according to 2010 census data there is a high percentage of workers in the hotel and restaurant sector that grosses a low (minimum wage) income and considered a “vulnerable” group. 

AHATA has completed a manpower study of 22 hotel and timeshare members, which directly employ a total of 7,560 residents of Aruba, and can report that only 3% of their employees are earning minimum wage.  It is important to add that a vast majority of workers in the tourism industry that earn below AFL 2000 (i.e. Housekeeping, Food and Beverage, tour guides, etc.) also earn significant untaxed tips, and therefore their total income is beyond what is reported to the local tax office. The additional and unreported income generates significant economic activity through the consumer purchasing power it enables.

Over the years, we have observed statements made by a variety of leaders in the community that is misleading regarding the tourism sector’s wages.  We consider this misleading information to be of great detriment to the tourism industry and the local economy, as it can deter the local population from applying for jobs in the pillar of our island’s economy.

Companies within the sector already report great challenges in finding qualified candidates for the various positions available, and AHATA urges local leaders to consider the full reality of data prior to distributing incomplete information. AHATA applauds the efforts to diversify Aruba’s economy and educational focus, however it is important that the primary industry can count on a robust workforce to ensure sustained success.

Meanwhile, AHATA was encouraged to note that the Economic Policy includes the identification of lack of flexibility in the labor market regulations as a bottleneck for doing business and productivity levels, while recommending reform of labor laws (Annex E).

AHATA endorses a review of the regulation that can impede Aruba’s ability to reach a more effective productivity level. In IMF’s recent report on Aruba, they illustrated that “the labor market regulation is rigid, impeding labor mobility and job growth”. The IMF recommends that policy should promote labor market flexibility and provide protection for workers (via unemployment insurance) rather than jobs, hereby supporting a productive private sector to stimulate our economy. 

About blackouts and condecorations

This is yesterday’s column, published today, because my computer did not survive the shock of coitus interruptus with Elmar/WEB, Sunday night. The power pack blew, they did not have a spare HP power pack in the shop, guess what kid, you are getting a new machine.
So YES, it is true, I have a new computer, and setting it up with all the security codes, and passwords is tedious, but necessary evil, in view of all the hacking that goes on.
Some of my friends reported their Netflix got hacked, imagine saving $10 a month propels a geek to hack someone else’s account.
And please note I have four man-eating-dogs in charge of my office computer security, just saying.
I am collecting receipts, and will pick up a claim form from Elmar/WEB to report my loses. I heard Luis Oduber, with my own ears, informing the general public to pick up a form and claim their damages. I will follow up on that sound advice and will keep you in the loop
Condecorations:
This year, on the occasion of King’s Day – his 52nd birthday, on April 27th, 2019, a total of 2,882 Royal Decorations were granted within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including the Netherlands, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao & St. Maarten.
A surprising number of Royal Decorations were awarded in Aruba, a total of 35 – 8 last year, in comparison.
The awards were bestowed by King Willem-Alexander’s representative on the island, His Excellent Governor Z.E. Alfonso Boekhoudt, in the presence of his wife, first lady Hanneke Boekhoudt-Koetse, at a special ceremony at the Renaissance Convention Center during the morning hours on Friday, following an elegant party with dance music in the evening.
Eleven of the eligible individuals, received a Knight’s decoration, and 24 received a Member’s decoration, both in The Order of Orange-Nassau. In total 57.14% males, 42.86% female. Remarkably, the percentage of females is much higher in Aruba, than the 35.05% female winners overall.
The Order of Orange-Nassau, established in 1892, may award six different degrees of decorations namely Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, Knight and Member.
The two last categories are used to reward and to publicly praise individuals for their voluntary work, and for their social contributions in the arts, sports, and education. To be appointed to the Order of Orange-Nassau, eligible individual must have made special contribution to society in general and their community in particular.
A total of 63 people were decorated in the Caribbean, with Aruba heading the list with 35, Curacao with 14, Bonaire with 1 and St Maarten with 3.
Among those decorated here, Elvis Lopez, curator Atelier 89, who single-handedly and on a shoestring budget manages to run a respectable art school with a full program of courses, exhibitions and events; Byron Boekhoudt, who is best known for his efforts in organizing our national Reef Care initiative, and fighting back the Lion Fish invasion, besides being active in fishermen circles; Evert Bongers, a High-Winds pioneer, who tirelessly organizes/judges the windsurfing event for 33 years – Imagine, he was the governor’s French teacher, once upon a time, when the official was still a tall, shy student –Desiree Eldering, the savior of the donkeys of the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary, where would the donkeys be without of passion for them; the first lady of dance Diane Antonette, who has instilled discipline and grace in hundreds of students over the past 50 years, at her Scol di Baile, Rolly Sint Jago, active in the art and culture scene, Desiree Correa in education and Rene Kan who mixers business with selfless service of his community.
Apologies for those left out, with just an initial I did not recognize their name.

Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau, bij bevordering:
• R.M. Wanapa-Luydens

Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau: Knight
Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau is the 5th degree in this order and is more common than the higher degrees.
• D.L. Antonette
• N.M. van der Biezen
• D.C. Correa
• D.H.A. Eldering
• G.R. Gil
• E.R.F. Lasten
• E.R. Lopez
• G.M. Peterson
• F.R. Sint Jago
• F.C. Tromp

Lid in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau: Members
Most successful applications are submitted for appointment as a Member in this order. People may be eligible based on voluntary earnings.
• B.G. Boekhoudt
• E.A. Bongers
• M.T. Arends-Croes
• G.T. Croes
• R.A. Croes
• F.L. Croes
• M.L. Croes
• N.R. van Lis-Donata Norris
• J.C.C. Dumfries
• L.E. Vrutaal-Emerenciana
• T.N. Erasmus
• S.T. Tromp-Farro
• F.S. Harms
• R.I. Kan Rene
• W.R. Krozendijk
• T.K.H. Lee
• J.L. Luidens
• E.T. Maduro
• A. Maduro
• E.R. Rasmijn
• L.F. Schmidt
• O.A. Trimon
• J.J. Geerman-Tromp
• M.J. Wout

Increasing mandatory sentences is secondary, MANDATE REPORTING: All offenses should be public order issue

I heard/read a lot recently about the burning issue of child sexual abuse, people on the street voice their opinions about the need to increase mandatory minimum sentences, have more control, heavier penalties, basically, let the government handle the issue.
We’re all outraged when a predator engages with a child physically, psychologically, sexually, neglects it or abandons it, which constitutes the crime of Child Abuse, but alas, we do not have MANDATORY reporting on Aruba, and thus most cases are left hanging because parents/guardians chicken out.
According to a press release from POR with Marisol Lopez Tromp and Alan Howell – they are both parents to feel the pain – they already presented a law increasing mandatory sentences for serious crimes on May 21st 2018, and while the law meanders through legal channels, they would like to see it handled ASAP. They suggest a minimum of 7 years.
I solicited legal advice
1. In order to impose these minimum sentences (or any minimum sentence at all) the cases must be reported to the Public Prosecutor. Our bottle neck starts with reporting the cases. If we had mandatory reporting in place – think Hospital, nurses, doctors – we would probably be even more shocked/outraged. Because we would be exposed to the enormity of the disaster, and we would realize how common child abuse is in our community. As long as we mostly dependent on third parties (parents/guardians) reporting, we will have challenges addressing these crimes.
2. We need skilled professionals to lead the case and investigate properly, in these kinds of crimes. This is the third seated government with promises on the books, but so far ZERO experts in the field.
3. If you have mandatory minimum sentences you are only giving a judge 2 choices: Complete absolution or minimum sentence. When in doubt about the evidence you will force the judge to choose for absolution rather than locking someone up for a prolonged period of time. This will be the case specially with minors close to the consent age (16), where the defense may claim there was consent, and the abuser walks.

BOTTOM LINE: No need to rush mandatory minimum sentences in, DO SOMETHING ABOUT AWARENESS and REPORTING.
You can have all the heavy penalties on the books but if there are no reports and/or shoddy investigations it will not matter; the predators will be off the hook!
I checked in the USA: All states require certain professionals or institutions to report suspected child abuse. Those required by law to file are considered mandated reporters. These professionals can include health care providers, mental health providers, crisis counselors, school personnel, social workers, day care providers and law enforcement personnel, in some states additional professionals are now included on the list of mandated reporters: substance abuse counselors, domestic violence professionals, court-appointed special advocates, and members of the clergy.

Happy Labor Day

The government surprised the private sector with a public announcement on April 30th, one day ahead of Labor Day, May 1st, 2019, when GOA reported via social media and news media, that the minimum wage has been increased with 3%.
New minimum wage rate is now: Awg 1,762.48 per month, Awg 411.07 per week.
AHATA and ATIA (the two large employer associations) received ZERO previous notice of this decision.
GOA timed it nicely for Labor Day, to demonstrate its commitment to social idealism.
IRONICALLY, on April 29th, all private sector entities were present at the Tripartite dialogue, together with ministers. The forum was talking about UNION, and working together…
GOA asked the private sector to come up with ideas on how it can collaborate more effectively with government entities and the unions. They solicited an idea on how to honor Labor Day.
Then out of left field, Boomshakalaka, a triumphant dunk: 3% minimum wage increase.
Not a word that this was coming, while they had ample opportunity to share the news at the meeting.
We call it lack-of-transparency.
Not a good way to start an open exchange on labor and social issues.
Another social monologue on the horizon?

About Inflation

As you know GOA just granted the 3% increase to minimum wage earners. GOA just reached out and stuck it hand in the pockets of employers and helped herself or maybe it was more like a hand-me-your-wallet command.

I connected the dots yesterday. 3% in honor of the additional 3% levied by the BAZV and in compensation for the loss of that income which GOA granted itself by reaching out and sticking its hand into the consumer’s pocketbook, last year.

So first the consumer was punished by a 3% increase in prices. Then he got compensated for it, by a salary increase. The merchants will surely turn around now and raise their prices again to compensate for this last 3% having already padded their price tags originally, when the added BAZV tax came around.

Whichever way you look prices are going up and our buying power declines. In other words, INFLATION rears its ugly head.

And the fact that all these taxes added must be added to the price is an opportunity to round the amount up and hide additional potoshi in the bottom line.

Everywhere in the world the fiscal obligation fees are on the receipts for everyone to see, be it city tax, federal tax, VAT, sin tax, environmental fee, fuel surcharge, cleaning charge, whatever. It always appears plain and simple and visible.

Then at the end of the month you press one button and the computer tells you how much you collected.

When you include the fiscal obligation fees in the price, pencil pushers must calculate what is what at the end of each month.

Extra work? Yes.

Where will we find the workers??

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May 05, 2019
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster