Reform Aruba, an introduction by Armand Hessels

An interactive workshop titled: Towards integrity in Aruba, took place this week, with background remarks provided by the founder of SDBA, Foundation Good Governance Aruba, Armand Hessels.

Armand started with the definition of integrity: Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain – Unknown

The NIS report – an evaluation of our National Integrity Systems, he said, published in April 2022, is the latest investigative report on the dysfunction of key government agencies, in Aruba.

There were many reports before, about that same governmental disfunction, yet all disappeared into the black hole and thus did no bring change about.

The way Armand puts it, SDBA wants to break that tradition. However, it cannot do that alone, and that is why, it entered into a partnership with the University of Aruba, which is an independent, multi-disciplinairy and not-for-profit center. Another partner is the Aruba Institute for Good Governance and Leadership, GG&L, affiliated to the university, led by Mieke de Droog.

All faculties of the university work together, in close cooperation with partners from the Aruban civil society. The goal is to help improve the quality of Public and Corporate Governance on the island, by promoting three main activities:

Public dialogues, training/workshops and research.

In service of that goal, a partnership was established with the HOPE Foundation, chaired by Lisette Malmberg. That foundation aims at strengthening the notion of good citizenship.

Both GG&L and HOPE were the driving force behind the recent interactive workshop, and should be congratulated on sparking the beginning of real positive changes towards integrity within our political system, and the improved functioning of our country, hopefully.

This is what must happen, according to Armand

  1. We must recognize that the political system, since Status Aparte of Aruba, has not functioned properly and that continuing in the traditional way is detrimental.
  2. We must accept responsibility for the roles we played in failures, and make up our minds to contribute actively to a well-functioning democratic constitutional state. An active contribution of civil society is crucial, if we aim to improve the political system.

This was indicated by “politicians” on several occasions, in the Rapport Calidad, under the AVP, in 1997. This calls on society to correct where ‘politics’ have failed. This was reinforced in the first Wever-Croes administration, in its Master Plan “Repositioning our sails,” inviting civil society to join in public discussion about the political system.

It is the hope of SDBA, GG&L and HOPE, that civil society will accept this invitation and implement its social responsibility collaboratively. Only then can integrity, and consequently a truly functioning democratic state of law, finally be realized.

BOTTOM LINE: Aruba must wake up and smell the roses. Shake up the indifference and get involved if we can ever hope to bounce back from mismanagement and poverty.

Poverty? Take a look.

Currently, Aruba pays over Afl. 250 million/year for interest payments.

  • That is withoutthe interest for the PPP projects (min. Afl. 50 million/yr)
  • Thus, in 5 years, Aruba will pay a total of ± Afl. 1.5 billion in interest alone.
  • The full 5-year total interest payments more than covers the full 1-year budget of Aruba (total ± Afl. 1.5 billion).
  • Thus, the 5-year interest payments alone would cover ALL government costs for 1 year:personnel, goods & services, subsidies, health- & social care, investments, etc.
  • Interest payments of up to 5% of all government revenues is considered sustainable. Aruba’s interest payments exceed 20% of all its revenues.
  • PPP obligations of up to max. 0.5% of the total budget are considered reasonable. In Aruba, the figure is over 5% (10x as much)!

Total nation debt: Afl. 6 billion + Afl. 1 billion PPA





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October 14, 2022
Rona Coster