|18-2014 - Chamber's position on the conflict between Aruba and the Netherlands|
Oranjestad – The Aruba Chamber of Commerce & Industry wishes to make a public statement on its point of view regarding the events arising in the last few weeks in the conflict between the Aruba government and the Kingdom government. The Chamber will not give an opinion on the legal aspects of the matter, but wishes to focus on some other aspects that it considers pertaining more to its terrain, and that need to be addressed.
Firstly, it is important to take a very strong position against the way it was allowed to citizens to express their aggression against both the person and the institution that the Governor is, while as a representative of the King he represents one of the most important entities of our country, and must be able to count on the absolute respect of one and all. Many of our citizens perhaps do not understand that it is not the person who is the Governor, who is acting according to his personal opinion, but that he is acting according to the requirements of his office. In this, a great responsibility rests on the government of Aruba itself, who is the first responsible to guarantee the Governor’s safety, and should have taken action against any person who would insult, or worse, threaten the Governor, be it verbally, or physically. Regretfully, we have not been able to see any action from government’s side to prevent acts, which were moving in the direction of the punitive act of sedition, against the highest authority of our country.
It is also necessary to address the financial-economic situation of Aruba. The critical situation of public finance at this moment, is not something that surfaced overnight, and did not start with the Governor not signing the budget law, but has been headed toward us as severe weather during several years. The Chamber has constantly expressed - during the last few years - its preoccupation and disagreement with the direction that public finance had taken. Specifically, the excessive payroll expenses were pointed out, which are of such magnitude that they render it impossible to conduct a wholesome financial policy. This contributed in causing a high level of public debt that has created a huge problem for us, and for the coming generations.
For some time already, it has become also visible that the government’s financial problems have begun to affect the private sector even more. The incapability of government to pay its bills timely has always been a problem for the private sector, where those not receiving payment from government cannot pay, on their turn, their suppliers of goods and services. The situation during the last few weeks, where there is no budget, and hence no international loans, may make a serious situation even worse. The fact must be taken into account that government in its totality is the principal actor in our economy, having great influence on money circulation in most sectors.
Now, the moment has come to admit that we have an abyss in front of us, and that we need to start repairing what did not go well, according to norms of good governance. The Chamber wishes to urge the government of Aruba to take its responsibility, in order to do all that is possible to remedy the current situation, providing a realistic budget, working in a transparent manner, and being accountable for the policies implemented.
Without any doubt, the process of repair will not take place without sacrifice, but it would be better to stop this process of deterioration now, instead of regretting later on that no action was taken.
Aruba, July 18, 2014
Chamber of Commerce & Industry