ORANJESTAD/THE HAGUE–Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes on Monday informed the Aruba Parliament that government has accepted the Dutch conditions for the third liquidity support tranche. “I can announce with great satisfaction that we are ready for an agreement with the Netherlands.”
On the day that Curaçao signed a historic political agreement with the Netherlands in Willemstad, Wever-Croes sent a letter to the Aruba Parliament to announce the acceptance of the conditions for COVID-19 financial support. That same day, Wever-Croes gave an update during a meeting of parliament.
“The negotiations have gone well and we have arrived at four important adaptations which safeguard our country’s autonomy and which state that the Caribbean Reform Entity (CRE) has to consult us in whatever it does,” said Wever-Croes.
“We consider this a big accomplishment, and as government we are of the opinion that we must accept the conditions so we can receive financing from the Netherlands at zero per cent interest. This is needed so we can continue rebuilding our country.”
According to Wever-Croes, the Dutch funding is necessary to guarantee the payment of salaries of public employees and the payment of wage subsidy to the private sector. It is also highly needed to carry fiscal alleviation for residents and entrepreneurs who owe taxes and to financially support dismissed employees through the FASE programme.
The prime minister asked the parliament for support. “I hope that government can count on parliament’s support in this important trajectory for our people. Let’s bring tranquillity for our people, especially for those who need it most. Let’s create opportunities for progress and prosperity for everyone.”
Wever-Croes assured the parliament that the government would not sign an agreement without the permission of parliament and without parliament having its say. She said that the concerns of parliament were taken into account in the negotiations with the Netherlands, as well as the observations brought forward by the social partners during the various consultations.
During the meeting with parliament on Monday, Wever-Cores gave an update on the negotiations and elaborated on the “substantial” changes that were made in the documents that are on the table in the negotiations with The Hague.
One of the changes concerns the securing of the country package for Aruba in a mutual regulation, instead of a Kingdom law. Also, a new article will be included for the CRE which stipulates that the prime minister of the concerned country, in this case Aruba, will determine the priorities of the country package and prepares an execution agenda.
Furthermore, there will be an evaluation regulation which states that the CRE will be evaluated after three years. The evaluation committee will include two members from Aruba and one member from the Netherlands. The recommendations of this committee will be carried out.
The fourth change is the most important one for the Aruba government: the CRE will assist in Aruba’s recovery and reform process, but it will not do so while taking over the country’s autonomy. In this manner, the autonomous position of the government and parliament are secured.
“Based on these changes, we accept the conditions,” said Wever-Croes, who added that she was waiting on the final text from the Netherlands. She said that there was some delay because the team was now focusing on the agreement with Curaçao. Once the final text is in, it will be sent to the Aruba Parliament for deliberation and approval.
Wever-Croes reiterated that the Dutch liquidity support was direly needed. “COVID-19 hit Aruba very hard. The financial problems caused by the coronavirus for this year and for the next two years are enormous. The reality is that we cannot get out of this abyss on our own. We need help.”
Asking for help was not a sign of weakness, but rather a signal of strength, said the prime minister. “We are asking for this temporary assistance so we can get out stronger out of this crisis. We will get assistance, money for investments, financing at zero per cent and refinancing of loans for two years at zero per cent.”
Bron: Daily Herald