Their Need to Stay in Power Eclipses Their Duty to Govern

The quote by Frank Underwood really describes our government perfectly.

EVERYONE keeps telling GOA over and over what needs to be done, but GOA is paralyzed, because it doesn’t know how to properly explain the situation to the average voter.

Reform is urgent. There is no real recovery without reform. Delaying only digs us in deeper.

But nothing is happening.

OR, there is progress made?

On one hand, GOA doesn’t seem to delay deadlines. They seem to hit them all, at least according to MinPres. But the question remains, how?

We suspect that the nice Dutchmen in charge of the Landspakket progress do not always understand our politicians’ skill and mastery of fake-outs and hocus pocus, behaving in a way to make it appear as if they are moving in the right direction, when they are not.

Down deep GOA would want to push the Landspakket reform deadlines until after the elections! But Netherlands, thank goodness, will not accept that under any circumstances.

So pretend becomes policy.

This week Standard & Poor’s, America’s Overview, saw publication, and apparently S&P is on the ball, describing Aruba’s situation very well, and consequently downgrading our credit rating in the process.

It doesn’t matter anyway. Because under current circumstances, we can only borrow from the Dutch.

“In our opinion,” says the report, “Aruba has the most exposure to tourism among sovereigns we rate. We expect the severe hit to the country’s economy by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath will be MORE prolonged than we had anticipated. We also expect the government will rely more heavily on borrowing to fund its expenditures, pushing debt levels HIGHER. Therefore, we are lowering our long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Aruba by one notch to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’.”

The stable outlook of the report considers the economic and fiscal challenges faced by Aruba, alongside the support offered by the Landspakket agreement reached between Aruba and the Netherlands in late 2020. The agreement underscores the Netherlands’ strong commitment to provide necessary financial assistance to Aruba, while laying the groundwork for reforms and aiming to limit the severity of the effects of the pandemic.

Get that? Reforms equal limiting the severity of the effects of the pandemic. S&P repeats this mantra dozens of times in the 21-page document.

It sees our future compounded of continued borrowing, and the implementation of a successful reform package that COULD lead to possible debt relief and more favorable fiscal outcomes over time.

S&P also describes a threatening downside scenario, where the agency could LOWER the ratings over the next two years FURTHER if there are difficulties in implementing the fiscal reforms agreed upon with the Netherlands, and failure to stabilize the government’s fiscal outcomes, leading to persistently large government deficits and higher debt levels beyond their current expectations.

Again and again, reform, reform, reform, is the only way out.

Their conclusion is also predictable: “We expect the government of Aruba, which is led by Prime Minister Evelyn Wever Croes of the People’s Electoral Movement Party (MEP), to continue to work with oversight bodies, COHO & Caft, on setting new policy and reform targets. Although Aruba will hold parliamentary elections in September 2021, we do not expect a deviation in commitment to these agreements after the election.”

Political power, they explain, has alternated in Aruba between the Aruban People’s Party (AVP) and the MEP since the country gained Status Aparte, autonomy within the kingdom in 1986.

“We also expect the government will make progress on economic reforms included in the Landspakket agreement reached with the Netherlands. Although the details of specific reforms have yet to be finalized, they will likely involve steps to improve the country’s labor market, business climate, and competitive environment.

We couldn’t agree more.

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March 18, 2021
Rona Coster