Mail from a businessman reader:

Not making timely decisions is a very bad decision, more so in the middle of an economic crisis. We cannot keep on hiding behind the Covid19 pandemic, as an excuse for NOT getting the economy moving.

There is no reason to condemn Aruba to a lower standard of living, by NOT making the necessary timely decisions on the subject of private investment, progressive labor laws. and privatization of failed state-owned businesses, for fear of rocking the boat, or stepping on toes of special interest groups, or because of other historic, previously held beliefs.

Such as

Belief No 1. “With growth comes immigration and all immigration is bad.”

Belief No 2. “Arubans are lazy and will never work the long hours required by HORECA.”

Belief No 3. “New (tourist) developments are dangerous, chancy, for Aruba.”

All three prevalent truisms are false.

Aruba could never have developed the way it did, without the positive, and vital contributions of its immigrants, that helped boost Aruba’s economy to one of the BIGGEST in the Caribbean.

As a member of the business community I refuse to accept the unsympathetic belief that Arubans are lazy. Just look at the founding generation of the hotel industry as we know it today. Very hard working people, and we are proud of their heritage.

Yes, many civil servants have been spoiled by working for GOA, which probably employs 2,000 or 3,000 people in excess.

I understand that we probably have 8,000 GOA employees, which is totally disproportionate.

By incorporating these people into the productive sector, we will solve most of our problems, we would enjoy fiscal sanity, have money to invest in health, education, and culture, etc., manage to lower taxes, minimize unwanted immigration and become more competitive and attractive for non-tourist investments, moving towards the much needed goal of diversifying our economy.

Aruba has reached a per capita GDP of $26,000, not much below well-developed countries, mostly due to the tourist-based economic bonanza of the last three decades.

That windfall of money, due to tourism, is NOT directly linked to our productivity. We just got lucky.

It was a freebee of sort; we became cash-rich like an oil producing country. Not because we worked our butts off, but because our people, climate and ocean, aligned to deliver a popular product.

Maybe some unemployment and hardships, is now the medicine, to wake us up, from our non-productive slumber.

We have been writing new labor laws for twenty years.

Perhaps some hardship will make people value their job and work harder for Aruba to become a healthy and strong country.

We need a well-thought-out Ten-year plan to reduce the excessive GOA payroll, and privatize most state owned companies, to relieve GOA of a big non-essential burden.

We must make sustainable growth, a national priority.

More so in view of our high level of debt, a HUGE fiscal deficit, a weak education system, dirt roads, pot holes, high taxes and exorbitant import duties, producing very little real growth.

Without the tourism sector growth of the last decades, Aruba would have joined the Haitis and Venezuelas of this world.

Our considerable tax income could have contributed MORE to the local economy. We should not take the high income per capita for granted, economies, if inefficient, can turn on a dime.

Is time for real leadership and planning. Not just managing circumstances but making good decisions and initiating changes fast, to replace incompetence by forward-thinking, dynamic strategies.


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January 05, 2022
Rona Coster