Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, September 8th, 2019

United Dog, upcoming spay and neuter Aruba 2019 campaign, Sept 17-21

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT together!
Mercedes De Bruyn, of United Dog Foundation reports:

August has been an amazing month for street dogs and cats of Aruba. United Dog Aruba Foundation enjoyed the fund-raising efforts of Superfood Plaza Cares Program, and received the funding necessary to spay & neuter 400 cats and dogs in just 4 days, mid-September.

The operation will take place in Noord, at the old post-office building adjacent to Island Finance. More than 70 volunteers, a mix of locals and visitors, signed up to help.

Dogs and cats will be trapped, prepped, operated, then post-recovery will be returned to the street, fixed.

The adoption corner will be open to the general public who is invited to adopt right there and then.

St Pepper’s, a local rescue organization made a donation that would allow blood work on all trapped animals, which is an extra safety measure to guarantee a complications-free procedure.

The fundraising campaign at Superfood broke all record. United Dogs was received very well, people were generous, and expressed compassion for animals via donations.

Mercedes believes awareness is growing and so many more people care for the wellbeing of animals on the island.

On a personal note: I think that those who are emotionally invested just work harder. I recently saw a FB ad on Dogs & Animal Lovers Aruba offering puppies for sale, American Bulldog, there were 701 likes, 256 inquiries how much and 68 shares. Ridiculous. These people who are breeding animals illegally, and cause the street dog problem on the island are shamelessly exploiting their dogs, sell puppies for undeclared fortunes, and manage to find fans and clients. I am astounded.

After all the year of Responsible Pet Ownership promotion and the work of all rescue foundations? The ignorant masses still want to shop and not adopt.

 Hear that? That’s me tearing my hair out.

Thank you @chateaudel’horte wines, for pledging some money towards the campaign.

Thank you Manchebo Beach Resort, Rui Antillas, Divi All Inclusive, Gianni’s Group, Papiamento restaurant, Blossoms restaurant, Papillon Restaurant, for pitching in so generously.  The list is long.

#fightthegoodfight #superfoodplaza #weloveourvolunteers #togetherwecreateabetterfuture

Should you encounter a group of dogs or cats, please send a report through whatsapp to our special number: (+297 7407957

Minister take the cotton out of your ears

Arcadis Netherland submits a report on recycling VS incineration

Arcadis, a design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets conducted a report regarding waste management treatment in Aruba.

In its executive summary the report states that in the current situation, 68,000 tons of waste (Municipal Solid Waste – MSW) will be recycled on Aruba.

In the recycling installation of Ecogas, the waste is separated into various piles: Paper/cardboard, metals, aluminum, granulate and finally what remains, RDF, refuse-derived fuel.

Arcadis made an environmental comparison in which the current method of Ecogas was assessed in relation to the option of mass burn incineration of UNSORTED municipal waste.

At present Ecogas stores the RDF in a quarry, and is assessing additional methods for its further efficient use, as secondary fuel for a cement factory or as secondary building material.

The current separation system at Ecogas and the method used in recycling has been assessed as state-of-the-art, compared to European standards, from every aspect, technical description, economic perspective and environmental situation.  

Recycling is a starting point, when it comes to achieving a circular economy, and the three RRR are essential components to sustainability.

On the other hand, Incineration when compared to recycling has a negative social impact such as on employment, less jobs, and on the environment, more pollution.

Additionally, significant financial investments, and operational costs of the incinerator, may lead to higher tipping fee, which is a risk for our community.

In addition, it is necessary to take into account emissions and control of gases, as well as a landfill facility for the deposit of ashes, bottom ash & fly ash.

Bottom line: The carbon footprint for an incineration is the high, TWENTY TIMES HIGHER than the present Ecogas solution.  

Recently, Ecogas had a presentation with AHATA, ATIA and KVK. It went very well. Most agreed that incineration is not an option and that there is a need to find an alternative to exporting RDF to Colombia.

Ecogas suggested filling quarries on Aruba, and patching up holes in the landscape with bales which are non-hazard.

While the suggestion was made, MinInfra objects, and keeps pushing for his incineration.

Ecogas reported to the forum that Europe is regularly exporting RDF, and it is being used as alternative fuel for the cement industry.

Ecogas showed the forum the negative consequences of incineration, in Amsterdam, where the under-performing plant is plagued with technical problems and releases contaminated gasses.

Ecogas conducted a second session with the Parliament’s Committee of Sustainability Development. Don’t say we didn’t tell you, that the local community will have to pay for the investment, operational and maintenance costs, 3 to 4 times higher, in tipping fees. Don’t say we didn’t tell you that WEB will also have dire financial consequences.

Besides, if GOA promotes a circular economy, an incinerator is a no-no.

Aruba needs to finally focus or RRR, recycling, reducing and reusing.

Ecogas also conducted a session with the MinInfra, but he demanded a NON DISCLUSURE AGREEMENT. So, we know NOTHING.

A fourth session with local NGOs, yielded questions, nevertheless, the incineration remained OUT OF THE QUESTION.

Corruption Survey 2018

The Central Bank of Aruba took it upon itself to conduct a survey regarding corruption on the island. So first I had to get the definition:

Corruption is the political, social or economic phenomenon in which someone in a (public) position of power grants unauthorized favors exchange for return services or as a friend’s service.

When you read the definition you immediately agree that yes, corruption is visible everywhere, only here we call it nepotism, friend and family, and it is perceived as Corruption Light, as a way of doing business.

The CBA document explores the state of corruption in Aruba from residents’ view, from their perception. And you know perceptions are always biased.

Nevertheless, the CBS also asked about experiences with bribery, on the level of Grand Corruption. Then interviewed people speaking out against the phenomenon, with conclusion at the end, a total of 11 interesting page.

I am quoting: Curbing corruption in Aruba is a high priority for the Centrale Bank van Aruba (CBA), because corruption has far reaching negative economic and social repercussions that could hinder the CBA from fulfilling its mission.

How good of them.

On page 2 we find out that 76% of those asked thought corruption in Aruba is widespread, and 52% of those asked thought the level of corruption here has increase.

Almost eight out of ten persons agreed that there was corruption in public institutions in Aruba, 79%.

56% thought the parliamentary system CONTRIBUTES to corruption and 80% thought too close links between business and politics, lead to corruption. Right.

The most interesting and valid remark:  A majority (60 percent) said that corruption was part of the business culture in Aruba. Somewhat over half of those surveyed (55 percent) thought that the only way to succeed in business was to have political connections. Nonetheless, 74 percent said that favoritism and corruption hamper business competition. 

And here comes the saddest part: In a chart listing all institutions in Aruba, such as Utilities, Dimas, Serlimar etc. the perception was that POLITICIANS as the MOST corrupt followed by Lotto pa Deporte and the Ministers and their advisers.

And here comes the funniest part: The LEAST corrupt was the Central Bank.

I had to laugh.

Really?

You write a report and give yourself the best grades?!

To make yourself look good?

Did you just interview your employees?

Then I asked some friends with excellent recall and those confirmed the CBA also has skeletons in the closet, from the sale of the Aruba Bank, to Interbank, FCCA, the recent Setar cellular phone scandal involving a central bank employee.

Anyway, BEST PART, the rate of Grand Corruption is low.

According to the survey results, the bribery rate in Aruba was low. A small percentage of respondents (3 percent) who had accessed at least one institution for services noted that they had paid a bribe.    

About one in four respondents KNEW someone who had paid a bribe when accessing basic services that should be free, mostly around permits.

 Some blogs are more interesting than others

Yesterday’s blog about the holier-than-thou Central Bank of Aruba yielded interesting comments and mail.

I fully agree, said a reader, the head of the CBA was part of management together with president CARAM at the time of the loss of the gold and secondly, NOTHING was solved. They just incurred the loss on the gold transaction. Also no visible consequences to this loss. Who polices the police??

Good question, who polices the police, because I remember a while ago, a newspaper on the island of Curacao, Antilliaans Dagblad, published an article titled Personeelslasten CBA Stijgen Fors, the article claimed that CBS spends 18.6 million florins on salaries, in 2018, and that this amount went up by 2 million, from 2017, 16.5 million in personnel.

https://antilliaansdagblad.com/aruba/19580-personeelslasten-cba-stijgen-fors

I took out my calculator. That is an average of Awg 189.000/year per employee – the article states that the bank employs 98 people – higher than the commercial banks, AIB, Setar, Web and Elmar, all those institutions CBA exposed as relatively corrupt on that fated list in the Corruption Report 2018.

Of course we must mention here that the CBA’s president is President for LIFE, above judges and members of the RVD, Rekenkamer, ministers etc., which are capped at 70 years.

And talking about the banks. I recently had the dubious honor to deal with one of our commercial banks, it was an excruciating exercise.

We are over-regulated.

Try to open a bank account. Good luck.

It is much easier in the USA. Parking and walking in, is the difficult part. Then if you have two kinds of ID, a utility bill and a check, you are good to go, with a personalized credit and debit card.

This could never happen here.  

And basically it is ironic, corruption creeps in when things are over-regulated and little people cannot find their way in the bureaucratic maze. That over-regulation breeds resourcefulness and creativity, namely corruption.

And everyone remembers what happened to our free zone. That was over regulated.

CBA doesn’t have it easy: It’s an elegant tight rope dance, between two impossible goals, keeping them honest and keeping us in business.  

ARUBA’s TAX REFORM Stage II

There are meeting these days between stakeholders and GOA regarding the Tax Reform.

Some of my friends say, kudos to GOA for giving the stakeholders an opportunity to voice their views.

Some say, you’re crazy, it would be suicidal, NOT to listen to the cash-cow private sector.

In December, the Kingdom of the Netherlands prepared a technical assistance report in which it outlined the policies needed to reach a SUSTAINABLE TAX SYSTEM 

This Technical Assistance report was prepared by a team of the International Monetary Fund. It was based on the information available at the time of completion, October 2018. 

It spells it all out regarding a Value Added Tax, Personal & Corporate Tax and Excise Tax, it’s a handbook to sober finances, in 69 pages.

The executive summary says it all:

Over the last decade, Aruba has faced three recessions resulting in a public debt of approximately 90 percent of GDP. Its current budget deficit needs to be reduced and Aruba should close a fiscal gap of 1.5-2 percent of GDP over the next two to three years to return to a sustainable path. Earlier this year, the authorities have introduced a crisis package, mainly by increasing the turnover taxes. This temporary tax measure should be replaced by a tax reform that will modernize and simplify the current system.

The new tax system should not only raise more revenue, but also shift the tax burden away from income and profits toward consumption. The current system is not well equipped to make these changes. In replacing the crisis levy, the Government sees an opportunity to streamline the current tax system, modernize it, and make it more sustainable for the future needs of Aruba.

This report provides an assessment of Aruba’s tax system, provides recommendations, and suggests a general time path towards a modern tax system. Key elements of the mission’s findings focus on simplification, a reduction in the multiplicity of tax instruments, and improvements in revenue productivity. The main areas that could benefit immediately from the mission’s assessment are the adoption of a value-added tax and a reform of the excise taxes. Other recommendations regarding the personal income tax and profits tax serve simplification purposes.

So, the Dutch are holding Aruba to those recommendation, twisting our arm, recommending the replacement of the BBO/BAZV/BAVP with a 10% VAT on EVERYTHING. But Aruba will probably try to do it its own way, because I heard very strong rumors about sticking to the BBO, implementing a soda tax, even on sugar free pop, and further leaning on the hotels for funding.

I did not hear any strong rumors about cost cutting, yet.

I wanna hear rumors about cleaning up the mess, raising accountability, diminishing corruption, introducing order into public finances and taxation, collecting from all those who are currently cheating, unloading superfluous public employees, and other good governance strategies.

Leaning further on the hotels is not a good idea. They are our lifeline and are already feeding us and keeping a roof over our heads. Let they make money, why not. If they weren’t making money here, they would leave!  

Household Waste is Gold

Our MinInfra just declared war on free enterprise by submitting a proposal, September 4th, 2019, to amend the law, asking Parliament to give SERLIMAR full MONOPOLY on waste management in Aruba.

Serlimar will have sole ownership on anything related to waste management so basically anyone that has anything to do with recycling here, will go out of business, about 200 people.

Monopolies in Aruba such as Water, Electricity, Tele-Communications regularly spell disaster for island consumers with high rates and sub-par service.

The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, the Aruba Trade and Industry Association, and the Aruba Chamber of Commerce dispatched a letter of protest to MinInfra, advising him that the move is ridiculous.

Basically what the MinInfra is asking is the following: Every household will be billed Awg 17.5 a month, a compulsory levy – you don’t pay, we send the bailiff after you – whether you use Serlimar or not.

It will leave no room for EcoTech, the private sector enterprise, and will take all small recyclers of tires, batteries, plastic, iron, spent oil, out of business. These small third-party companies, will lose their clients, already paying a monthly fee to Serlimar.

Some private-sector reactions? This is a travesty, against commerce, against tourism, against our economy, against the government’s commitment to a circular economy, and against sustainability principles.

As a consumer, my household waste has been picked up by EcoTech for the past decades. Their totters were larger, their garbage trucks cleaner, and never leaked any garbage juice, so I switched from the municipal trash collection to private trash collection, especially due to the fact that EcoTech initiated recycling, and made good progress on environmental issues, while Serlimar just piled everything in a burning, shameful dump.

The war on trash escalated recently with the government’s plan to take trash over.

WHY?

You should divest of everything.

Governments are BAD managers.

Let the private-sector do it.

But there is money in it: Awg 17.5 x the number of households, a month, over 8 million a year, and MinInfra is eyeing that piggy-box.   

What happened to free enterprise? An economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

Look at what state-control did to Venezuela.

I had a private conversation recently with the MinInfra. He is very charming, and open, and friendly, and charismatic. And he did mention, that he believed, that all WASTE is his. In his view our trash and its exploitation-rights belong to GOA.  I did not understand it at the time, but now I know what he means. 8 million florins a year, upfront.    

The opposition party will vote against it in parliament. I hope a few coalition members, with good sense, join and bury the amendment.

Share on:

September 08, 2019
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
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster