Compounding challenges

One of the reasons why very little gets resolved on the island, is our desire or tendency to bite off more than we can chew, or compound challenges.

The recent discussion regarding the privatization of the Bubali Plas sewer treatment plant, RWZI, is one example.

Another example is the call for Vacation Rental regulation.

We were recently told that GOA intends to introduce a new tax for stayover tourists, you could also call it an additional levy, collected by a mechanism already in place, the ED-Cards.  The amount mentioned unofficially was $20 per visitor.

GOA wanted to introduce it as a law, the document was already written, then the minister of transportation declared his desire to create a new sui-generis, an Aviation Direction, a privatized entity within the government, and he wanted to also piggy-back on the mechanism already in place, the ED-Cards, and make visitors pay for it, $15 per person.

Why not combine the two levies?

Then the documents had to go back to legal to be re-written, which delayed the initiative.

For 26 years, GOA has failed to properly address the issue of gray water on the island. The Bubali plant was built more than 40 years ago to handle 4,500 tons a day, it is today burdened by 9,000 tons daily.  Experts welcome the privatization of the plant but warn against it remaining in the government sphere.

It should be truly privatized, and completely independent, they say. The DOW people are overwhelmed and overworked, one can’t expect them to also supervise the new entity, AWSS.

Also, the discussion regarding the regulation of vacation rentals, was progressing, in collaboration of the Aruba Vacation Rental Association, then someone decided that GOA might as well regulate the entire industry and proposed the introduction of HORECA permit fees, and the creation of a new authority, in charge of permit issuance and supervision under the Licensing Regulation. This new central supervisory body, the Aruba Quality & Hospitality Authority, AQHA, will be specifically responsibly for quality control and enforcement. It will be a semi-public Sui Generis, also in charge of vacation rental permits, lodging, hotels, and restaurants, from start to finish, a one stop shop.

Since the AQHA must be self-sufficient, the question of fees will be debated, hopefully, before the launch of the program.

Then the documents had to go back to legal to be re-written, which delayed the initiative.

A high-up-there individual told me: I don’t think it will be done this year.

In both cases, I think the delay is welcome.

The proposed new sui-generis, AWSS, designed to manage the Bubali Plas sewer treatment plant will cost twice as much as the current poop allocation in the DOW budget.

It will still be the responsibility of DOW and they failed to handle it properly when it was in their direct control. We cannot be guaranteed they will run it well via AWSS, a third party.

Why should visitors be charged for flushing, and locals let off the hook?

A law introduced ten years ago and NEVER enacted, The Sewer Ordinance, can easily be pulled out of the drawer, tweaked, and put to good use, with local homes who are connected also paying for the right to press the lever.

#BoAbogadoFaborito, Lincoln Gomez, recently wrote a series of articles about the subject. He managed to get his hands on the legal document establishing AWSS and finds it badly written. His opinion is supported by the findings of RVA, Raad van Advies, the local independent GOA advisory board. They also thought the project could be undertaken without penalizing stay-over visitors with additional fees.

He also found that as far as laws and regulations, we are lagging, and must first finalize all our environmental / sustainability standards, before arbitrarily raising money to protect the not yet defined.

As for the vacation rentals regulation. All the Aruba Vacation Rental Association wanted to do is level the playing field, enforce the tourist tax and environmental fee and increase compliance among operators.

The issue is now part of thew AQHA, a huge project that will require more time, and more money, to set up.

One of the reasons why little gets resolved on the island, is our desire or tendency to bite off more than we can chew, or compound challenges.



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February 08, 2024
Rona Coster