THE HAGUE, Holland -- The fear expressed by the Dutch Kingdom Council of Ministers and the financial supervision agency (CFT) that Curacao is heading for bankruptcy has been rejected by the Curacao government, which has assured that it is working hard to sort out the country’s finances.
The actions by the Kingdom Council of Ministers were premature and, moreover, not according to the correct procedure established, argued Douwe Boersma on behalf of the government of Curacao during a hearing by five State Councils, which is how the members of the Council of State are referred to.
Arguing that it was necessary to impose guidelines on July 13, outlined Eric Daalder on behalf of the National Council of Ministers, indicated a very dark future for Curacao.
“While the situation at that time was already bad, the situation on the basis of current data is now worse,” he said.
According to most recent estimates, the current budget deficit for 2012 has grown to 300 million guilders in 2013 and up to 420 million in 2014 and 2015.
The capital of the island, with assets such as buildings, according to Daalder may not be used for these deficits, but it is also not sufficient because its value is not real. It is in the accounts of the government estimated at 500 million, but some are worth 315 million less when taking into account deferred maintenance, he says.
“At the end of next year, the equity will be exhausted. Curacao is heading for bankruptcy by the end of 2013 if no measures are taken,” said Daalder.
Boersma argued, supported bySecretary-General for General Affairs Stella van Rijn, that the Curacao government is doing its utmost to balance the budget and thus comply with the guidelines.
At the request of the State Council for Curacao, Robert Van Rijn Vornis, Boermsa mentioned as examples the restructuring of health care and the decision to increase retirement age from 60 to 65 years, with only one exception for employees of 58 and 59 years.
“This is a drastic measure, but we underline the urgency because the retirement funds are exhausted. The government is willing and able to take steps proposed on our Budget Day. But you understand that such measures cannot be implemented within a day,” he said.
Kees van Nieuweamerongen of the Committee for Financial Control (CFT) says that the CFT takes into account the complexity of such measures, but that the government should have taken these measures at the beginning of the year.
“We hope that now it will happen soon,” he said.
State Councillor Hans Borstlap then wanted to know whether the guidelines still can be seen as an additional incentive to implement austerity measures, a description of the measures that Prime Minister Mark Rutte previously used.
Van Rijn reiterated that, in all decisions, the correct procedures are followed, such as submitting all decisions to the Advisory Board, the Social and Economic Council (SER), the Organized Officials Consultation and eventually the Parliament.
“We can say that an opinion should be swiftly given, but we cannot force them,” she said.
“The political answer is that everything that is imposed by the Netherlands is seen as regressive, so that says nothing about a possible acceleration,” she added.
Jaap Polak, chairman of the committee of five State Councils, described the dispute between the Curacao government and the Kingdom Council of Ministers as a serious problem.
“The State Council will come with a draft decision, which will be sent to the parties, but not for the public. I cannot say when, but the situation requires us to do something as soon as possible,” he said.
Republished with permission of the Curacao Chronicle