CUA’s business brew

Comerciantenan Uni Aruba, CUA, hosted a business brew at Gloria this week, the last one for 2023.

A bit of history first for those who forgot.

Frans Ponson of the General Store, and Francis Saladin of Frasa International Trading NV, formed a new merchant association a while ago.

Then the pandemic interrupted.

But the island recovered and they were back at it, talking to their 130 members via an efficient APP.

(C.U.A. Comerciantenan Uni Aruba in the APP store)

CUA was created as a form of grassroot protest, when GOA decided to bundle all taxes, namely, BBO/BAZV and BAVP, into the total price on the bottom of the consumer receipt. The merchants then sent a collective petition, July 4th, 2019, to MinFec, asking her to reconsider and postpone the implementation of that ruling until such time when the complete upcoming tax reform was revealed.

They wanted to keep the BBO / BAZV / BAVP on the receipt, until then, for the sake of tra


You know what happened.

No one listened to them. Their requests were ignored.

So, they decided by become more vocal, organize, talk to the press, until GOA was willing to actually read the formal petition, but remained totally unprepared to take any suggestion into consideration.

So that’s history. Since then CUA repeatedly tried to tackle issues with the tax department and the ministers, especially the introduction of BBO at the border, some successfully, some not but they remain a leading advocacy organization representing the interests of the Aruban businesses.

In their own words: “Together we can weave a network of collaboration and innovation driving a prosperous future for Aruba‘s economy.”

The gathering at Gloria feature Ponson and Saladin as enthusiastic speakers. They urged their members to show active involvement with the APP to contribute opinions and perspectives that may contribute in a meaningful way. They encouraged members to promote their businesses within the APP, enhance their profile and visibility and most of all discover and connect with like-minded other merchants.

Members were also asked to self-nominate to the board, for member positions, so they can significantly influence the direction and growth of CUA, “a game-changing non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting Aruba’s economy.”

Gloria served cocktails and P.F.Chang’s hors d’oeuvres, and members enjoyed a lively networking opportunity. I opened the APP, I updated and upgraded my profile, found my modest annual membership fee invoice, Awg 125/year, paid it, and considered it a good investment.

The APP is indeed a platform where members may speak up openly and seek resolutions, free-speech is protected and merchants may conduct a more open dialogue and take more action.

I only asked one question that evening and Frans Ponson answered privately: How did the introduction of the BBO at the border go. Better than expected, he said, some glitches, but not that many. Nevertheless, our tax department is having difficulties administrating its workload. One thing is certain. GOA gets more money than it ever did, and the tax is collected from everyone, including gray market entities, which is a positive development.

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November 18, 2023
Rona Coster