The coming days will prove crucial to the short-term well-being of people in the Dutch Caribbean. Curaçao and Aruba have indicated they are not ready to swallow added conditions for COVID-19 liquidity support in Friday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting (see related story).
While St. Maarten up to last night had not officially made known its stance on all the new requirements received only Monday, the Silveria Jacobs Cabinet in no uncertain terms rejected a proposed new supervising entity that would decide on use of the funds. Make no mistake, hundreds of millions in soft loans to keep the public and private sectors going by – among other things – preventing widespread business closures and mass layoffs are at stake.
There is thus a clear need for compromise so that the already-hard-hit populations do not become victims of any governmental discord in this unprecedented crisis, but willingness seems to be lacking on the part of The Hague and particularly State Secretary of Home Affairs Raymond Knops. To change that, cooperation and active involvement from Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who chairs the kingdom council, is crucial.
Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have their backs against the wall. However, they deserve a bit more consideration and solidarity regarding their vulnerable position also due to refinery closures in the two former countries and the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma in the latter.
Truth be told, with the three islands’ tourism economies only now starting an expectedly slow and very gradual recovery, survival at a socially acceptable level in the coming weeks and months will be difficult at best. Foregoing continued monetary assistance from the Netherlands is therefore no realistic option.