Business as Usual?

The traffic in my neighborhood was overwhelming yesterday.

Cars coming and going in the hundreds.

The beaches were packed.

I also heard from friends that BINGO was played in not one, but FOUR casinos, with mostly elderly clients, sitting together, in close proximity with plenty of flat surfaces, the virus so likes.

Sure, I understand it was a matter of policy to carefully, move us into lockdown, in stages, not to create panic or flame unnecessary fear.

But apparently the local public is undisciplined and the next step should be an enforce #kedabocas, this gradual, polite request did not work, and cute pictures of doctors with signs did not make a difference, time to drop the carrot and use the stick.

On the economic front if you got used to seeing the MinPres on TV every morning and night reporting on the number of Co-Vid19 patients, prepare to see her replaced by Health Department officials, because she has bigger fish to fry.

This island will be unemployed soon. And for 3 to 6 months. So fasten your seat belt. We must figure out how to feed perhaps up to 40k people, out of money.

I talked with some of my friends in hospitality.

HORECA salaries, he said, are made of service charge, tips, and a very basic salary. That service charge and tip portion, has already disappeared. And the basic salary portion of line-employees is paid every two weeks, according to the number of hours they work. They work, they get paid. They don’t work, they probably get minimum wages, if lucky, not everywhere. Some pay checks have disappeared altogether.

So, if you’re lucky and you are working for a conscientious operator who values his people and wants to keep the team together for better times, you will probably take home a salary, equivalent to a five-day work-week.

Be grateful. Many local businesses will have to shoulder heavy payrolls with ZERO income, out of cash flow. And there are only a handful of local companies with reserves and available funds.

Most companies cannot afford to shoulder the burden of paying their employees, even reduced amounts, for the next 6 months.

All temps were probably let go already, all recent-hires, all stagiers, and all contractors.  

Then both companies and individuals have to pay, water, electricity, telephone/communication, rent, mortgages, and taxes. Fuhgeddaboudit, the money will never reach.

Locals will not be able to feed their children. This is the classic case of living from pay check to pay check where a single emergency topples the house of cards.

Unable to feed their children, who are on the street because schools are closed, locals will experience desperate times.  And GOA must make resources available.

Hence, the bigger fish to fry, the MinPres will use her time, to make good plans, and venture out into the world for help. Don’t take no for an answer.

(In the Netherlands the government pays up to 70% of salaries, so employers are responsible for just 30%)

If all else fails, I am packed, standing with my suitcase at the door, with the dogs and my bee hive on standby, ready to take the first KLM flight out to the motherland to sign up there for unemployment benefits.

Remember 1986? A great number of Arubans relocated to the Netherlands, hat in hand, and settled there for lack of work on the island.

Incidentally, SVB just sent out a notice for a two-week extension on payment, because they are closed. ARE YOU JOKING? You should freeze payments to alleviate the pain, like most countries, be nice!   


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March 19, 2020
Rona Coster