Prime Ministers Silveria Jacobs of St. Maarten (left), Evelyn Wever-Croes of Aruba and Gilmar Pisas of Curaçao (right). (Aruba government photo)
ORANJESTAD--Following the intense meetings with the Netherlands in Aruba on Sunday and Monday, a tripartite meeting between Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten took place on Tuesday where the countries discussed the way forward in formulating an alternative scenario for the Caribbean Body of Reform and Development COHO.
“Today was a great meeting again together with my colleagues of Aruba and Curaçao, one day after our four-countries consultation about the COHO and other themes,” said St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs after Tuesday’s meeting.
The tripartite meeting was an initiative of Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn-Wever Croes. “My colleagues already being in Aruba for talks with the Netherlands presented a good opportunity to come together to discuss common themes,” said Wever-Croes.
Themes that were discussed included the financial and economic situation on the three islands, the COHO and the 12.5% (or 12.6% in the case of Aruba) labour benefits reduction for (semi) public employees.
Working together as Dutch Caribbean countries is beneficial to all, said Wever-Croes. She said that even though they were not all located close to each other and they were not identical, the islands face the same challenges as small developing island states that affect them in an identical manner.
“We are all better off finding solutions to these challenges together as sister islands. United, we accomplish a lot more,” said Wever-Croes. Curaçao Prime Minister Gilmar Pisas agreed. He said it made sense to “use the iron when it was still hot.” “We keep in dialogue and make agreements that work in the best interest of our people and to safeguard the future of the next generations,” he said.
Collaborating to face the Netherlands together is especially important in the matter of the COHO. “I am super pleased that as three countries within the Caribbean, we are moving forward holding hands in terms of taking the considerations of our parliaments into account to put our best foot forward in realising the much-needed reforms,” said Jacobs of St. Maarten.
Looking back at a successful meeting, Jacobs added in a statement issued through the Aruba government: “We want to make sure that the reforms happen in a clear, clean and fair manner that is effective and efficient, and that will make our countries sustainable and resilient. Together we will put our proposal for the COHO forward and hopefully that will convince the Dutch government as to where we would like to go.”
“I leave back for Curaçao a happy man and will continue working on our joint proposal and prepare for August,” said Pisas. The next tripartite will take place at the end of August, confirmed Wever-Croes, who has been the initiative-taker for the meetings of the three prime ministers. The previous tripartite took place in Aruba in November 2021. She thanked her colleagues for coming to Aruba once again.
At this time, Aruba is on the agenda of this Friday’s meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers in The Hague. Aruba has agreed to the conditions of the Dutch government to start the process of removing the 12.6% labour benefits cut, starting with a pay back of 5% to all workers in the (semi) public sector next month. Curaçao and St. Maarten so far have not agreed to the conditions.