Little choice

Little choice

The signing of a First Quarter 2022 Execution Agenda for Aruba (see related story) shows that despite the recent postponement of decisions granting the three Dutch Caribbean countries exemptions to the balanced budget rule because of COVID-19, constructive dialogue within the kingdom to get through the related socioeconomic crisis is ongoing. In last week’s press briefing St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs also said there was willingness “to discuss the way forward” on the part of the Netherlands.

And as could be read in Tuesday’s paper, the Temporary Work Organisation (TWO) to be replaced by the contentious Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO reported that implementation of St. Maarten’s country package and cooperation in this area was going well. Not all deadlines being met mostly has to do with lack of capacity in local government when it comes to the necessary expertise.

The importance of continuing to work together especially under the present circumstances cannot be overemphasised. Aruba requested liquidity support during the next three months and although Curaçao and St. Maarten did not require any for now, they will later in the year to cover their deficits.

Besides, the COVID-19 Omicron variant confirmed that this pandemic is not over by a long shot. The Netherlands is in a new lockdown, so its affected businesses and individuals will again be receiving state assistance.

Let’s face it, if – God forbid – such drastic measures including, for example, travel bans were needed on the islands with their dominant hospitality industries, they would lack the funds to offer similar help locally and have little choice but to, once more, look to The Hague. Like it or not, that remains the current reality.

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