That Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten may in the future access special investment programmes and subsidy schemes of the Netherlands (see related story) will no doubt be welcomed. Establishing these specifically Dutch Caribbean instruments can’t happen overnight, but there is at least the prospect of assistance to promote economic development.
The importance of such should not be overlooked. While reforms to enhance fiscal compliance and increase government income like some of those in the so-called country packages are logical, ultimately the private sector must be able to produce additional revenue.
It involves means from the National Growth Fund (NGF). Initially 100 million euros will be provided for projects in six fields including tourism and a minimum contribution of 15 million euros, with another 100 million euros available if needed.
A guarantee regulation fund in the three Caribbean countries is to be created as well, with options for agriculture and fisheries. Considering an urgent need to improve food security on the islands, the latter spells good news.
Although all this understandably takes time to materialise, the dominant hospitality sector badly needs whatever short-term boost is possible. With the low season already in progress and rather high US airfares, attracting more visitors is a challenge that requires action and money.
Just like the Emergency Marketing Funds following Hurricane Lenny in November 1999 and the post-Hurricane Irma Trust Fund, these new Dutch means could prove a game-changer in overcoming impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Europe.