Interview with Tisa LaSorte, AHATA CEO, on Noticia Cla

It was an excellent interview last week, and it enjoyed more than 1,000 views, but I wish more people could see it, because it recapped many of the complicated issues facing Aruba today.

Yes, we have recuperated from the economic slump, but the hardship of the last two years will take a while to overcome, and the building back of cash reserves, is slow.

Small companies will take longer to fully recover.

While the Minister of Labor announced in February, he was making moves to issue some kind of documents to potential workers, already living on island, nothing has been done in that department. An inventory of the available hands must be taken, a data base created,  qualifications sorted out, then some kind of a well-controlled process must take place and a kind of permit issued, because Aruba is struggling with a severe labor shortage, and that shortage prevents the market from operating optimally, to maximize its revenues.

The Great Resignation reached Aruba, LaSorte announced, and people don’t want to work as much,  especially not on weekends or at night, which are peak hours for hospitality.

“We want action, no word,” she stressed. The labor shortage is most worrisome especially in light of upcoming openings, with no hotel, or building moratorium in sight.

On the question of pay, if your employer isn’t paying you 100% of your salary, said LaSorte, look for another job, because work is available on island.

(That comment ignited an online discussion, many locals expressed their anxiety at leaving a steady albeit unfair work places, others stressed the difficulty of getting interviewed and hired.)

Regarding the upcoming Tax Reform, LaSorte presented the concerns of the private sector that a value added tax will be introduced in a rush, ushering in inflation and subsequently causing the decline of consumers’ buying power.

The private sector is of the opinion that the government is only focused on satisfying its financial needs and is not looking down the road at the dire consequences of switching from direct to indirect taxes, at the drop of a hat.

GOA should first focus on reducing its expenses, increasing compliance, and the collection of all taxes due, for example by from Vacation Rentals, then a responsible GOA should listen to the private sector regarding the tariff, preferably just one, not two, and at a much lower rate than the one suggested by GOA advisors, whose identity is concealed.

The private sector she said is PRO a fiscal reform, to simplify the system, yet it would like to take its time to figure how to play it out, wisely.

If taxes are raised without the prerequisite reduction in expenses and increased collections, the local buying power will decline.

And perhaps there is a need to think about the reform differently. Charging 6% at the gate of entry?? That would guarantee compliance.

LaSorte has been a very vocal advocate of business and commerce and she has been saying, over, and over, that the current plan is too rushed, and will increase the underestimated inflation rate.

At a priceless moment in the program, LaSorte commented on our politicians. Herself the daughter of a much-appreciated pioneer-politician, she voiced her hope, that the people in charge will do the right thing. They signed a landspakket, she said, they know the reform is important, they have a masterplan, all they have to do is comply now and reduce the size of the country’s government machine.

Obviously, she believes in the goodness of mankind.

The interviewer, Tito Lacle, pressed her about the issue of government responsibility. He asked her where the stick is, and what can be done to pressure government into the right thing, and what will happen if….

The sad answer was that inflation, combined with increased taxation across the board, will make Aruba too expensive for visitors, who are now travelling with vengeance, but will cool off. The disregard of questions and concerns will finally shrink our economy, and we all still remember what 2020 felt like.

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June 08, 2022
Rona Coster