THE HAGUE–The much-anticipated decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers on Friday regarding the next tranche of financial assistance for Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten did not materialise because the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the countries asked to first consult with their governments about the conditions for the Dutch loans.
Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed the media in The Hague after Friday’s meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers that no decision had been taken.
The proposal for liquidity and budget support for the countries was discussed, but Ministers Plenipotentiary Guillfred Besaril of Aruba, Raymond Begina of Curaçao and Rene Violenus of St. Maarten asked for a deferral to consult with their governments.
Aruba announced on Friday that the Kingdom Council of Ministers had approved a third tranche of 113.3 million Aruba florins, but this turned out not to be the case.
Knops said the three Ministers Plenipotentiary had promised to get back to him at the latest next Wednesday with the answers from their governments as to whether they could agree with the strict conditions set by the Kingdom government (read: the Netherlands). After that, another Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting will be held.
Curaçao Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath said on Thursday that the Dutch demands were “unrealistic” and that Curaçao was unable to comply. According to a leaked document, the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT had advised issuing a zero-interest loan of NAf. 204 million for Curaçao.
The advised amount for St. Maarten was not divulged.
Knops told the media he did not want to go into details about the proposal currently on the table, as this was still under discussion. “A number of conditions have been set which I have already indicated earlier on. They have to do with levelling down salaries and reducing the size of the government organisation.”
Offer of support
The fact that conditions are being set is not new, Knops stated.
“We have always said that there are conditions tied to financial support. The same applies in this case, and that will also be the case for the next tranches. This is an offer of the Netherlands to provide support for which we have set a number of decisions, and it is up to the countries to decide whether they agree.”
According to him, the financial situations on the islands was of such a serious nature that measures were warranted, including reducing the salaries of members of government, members of parliament, directors of government-owned companies and subsidised institutions, and top-ranking civil servants.
Knops said the discussions with the countries would continue, and that for now he could not give more details, also not about the amounts involved. “The amount of support will be announced when a decision has been taken.” He said it concerned similar packages as agreed on in the first tranche last month.
The financial support will be granted in terms of six weeks, explained Knops. “We work with short terms, step by step, while every time linking the budget support to reform measures.”
He denied that the Dutch conditions were too stringent. “That is not the case. We have always linked budget support to conditions. These measures are very necessary in this crisis situation.”
Asked if he was optimistic that the parties would reach a compromise, Knops said: “I am always optimistic. But if I were in the shoes of the countries, I would again take a good look at this offer for support.”
Money for Aruba?
Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes announced immediately following Friday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting that approval had been given for a third zero-interest loan for Aruba of Afl. 113.3 million (about 58 million euros) for the period May 15 to July 3.
The amount was divided into Afl. 63.9 million for liquidity support and Afl. 49.4 million for wage subsidies for employers and employees, Wever-Croes stated.
However, a spokesperson for Knops denied that a decision to this effect had been taken in Friday’s meeting. No decision was taken for either three countries, because the Ministers Plenipotentiary indicated that they first needed to consult with their governments.
Wever-Croes divulged the conditions during the press conference in Oranjestad. The conditions included a general reduction of personnel cost, a pay-cut for Members of Parliament, Ministers and civil servants, and the introduction of a top norm for salaries in the public sector, set at a maximum of 130 per cent of the Prime Minister’s salary.
The second general condition concerned a structural reform of government expenditures and revenues. The Aruba government has to present a concrete plan on how to achieve this by June 15. Wever-Croes said these conditions were generic, and counted for Curaçao and St. Maarten as well.
Make a fist
Curaçao Prime Minister Rhuggenaath stated at a press conference on Thursday that the conditions set by The Hague were unrealistic. “Now is the moment to make a fist together as Curaçao for less dependence and against the unrealistic conditions that the Netherlands ties to the granting of loans. We cannot comply with these conditions.”
Rhuggenaath said Curaçao now needed to take charge and take steps to “move forward with a strong mindset and as an internal unity.”
“We have to stop with the mentality of being dependent and inferior. We have to do this together with everyone in society: the private sector, the non-government organisations, the public sector, unions, Parliament, opposition and the people. Together we have to sacrifice, feel the pain, but in the long term it will make us stronger.”
According to Rhuggenaath, Curaçao was now at a crossroads. “We either bend under outside pressure and follow decisions that others take for us, or we come together to construct our own country.” He said Curaçao found itself between a rock and a hard place, because it could turn nowhere else for financial support but the Netherlands.
Bron: Daily Herald
De Rijksministerraad cornavirusmaatregelen liquiditeitsvoorwaarden voor Aruba, Sint Maarten en Curacao. Met dank aan een trouwe lezer. Indien niet leesbaar en/of downloadbaar in verschillende browsers, klik hier in PDF.