It is a 65-page document. By page 13 my eye-lids drooped. But I am a woman of grit and perseverance, and I will get through the document.
The EP goal, as stated by GOA is noble: “To turn the disrupted government finances into a sustainable, responsible financial policy, which is a prerequisite for creating a solid and resilient economy.”
I understand there was also a lengthy presentation of the EP at the Surfside Marina, the MinFEC spoke, and I hear she did a fantastic job, breathing life into this fairy tale narrative, it all sounded spectacular in her 5-star Papiamento.
I hate to be the party pooper, and rain on her parade, but I am also reading between the lines of the report.
The Big Hurdle:
There is not a single word in the 65-page document that must have cost a pretty penny to produce by the economist-du-jour, about cutting the government payroll and reducing the overhead.
On the contrary, we know GOA is hiring.
So, to keep it short and sweet: As long as there is no massive human resources reform in which GOA looks at its most precious resource critically, recovery efforts will be microscopic.
And you can’t just lay everybody off – you will be creating a HUGE social problem, bigger than the one we already have – you have to develop a plan, to redirect, re-train, teach people new skills, or new applications for old skills, but you have to start managing your human surplus/shortage, start somewhere, small, but start!
It is a beautiful concept. A lovely word. I have heard it prescribed by five previous governments. This one identified “Tourism (specific niche products), Knowledge Economy, Agriculture, Logistics, Circular Economy and Creative Industries,” as centers with POTENTIAL, not physical, but digital promise.
We are already doing our best to diversify, but are hampered by our SIZE and by our LACK of resources. Agriculture?! Really?! We have no water. And to overcome the scarcity of water, we require science, but we have no science. Logistics? In principle the San Nicolas deep water harbor could be a great asset, but it is quagmired with the refinery. Circular Economy? We could not even teach our people to recycle or reduce household waste. We are a very wasteful society, always buying new, hardly fixing anything, it will take 200 years to teach us to extract the maximum of what we have!
So that put the kaibosh on diversification.
Speaking out of both sides of GOA’s mouth
On one hand: The EP wants to be in “alignment with labor policy, social policy, education policy, safety and security policy, and environmental policy that is so fundamental for a sustainable economic development.”
On the other: The EP aims “to improve the investment climate in Aruba and to stimulate an innovative, competitive and diversified economy, which contributes to a higher quality of life for all citizens”
Hogwash. There will be no improved business climate in Aruba, until the labor policy is amended. Employees have a lot of protection in Aruba, and it works against business.
And how about that immigration plus permit situation. This works against business too. No tax holidays, no incentives, and try to open a bank account here – a test from hell.
The two above stated noble goals contradict each other.
One speaks in socialistic terms the other uses capitalistic languages.
How can you have your cake and eat it?