The Daily Herald – Don’t Rock the Boat

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Treasury Secretary Ardwell Irion was on the point with his latest comment (see Monday Gazette) that the 14.4 percent increase in gross domestic product (GPD) projected by the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) for 2022 does not mean the country out of the danger area. After all, there was a contraction of no less than 22.1 percent in 2020 due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, while this year’s recovery will only be around 3.4 percent.

Additionally, even with full resorts and multiple cruise lines in port, it will be some time over the next few months for that revenue to flow into the local economy and reach earlier levels. Nearly 800 companies applied for monthly payrolls to make up for lost revenue at the height of the pandemic and are now forced to do without it.

Nevertheless, the tourist outlook is positive and that has not been the case for a long time. It is obviously extremely important to stimulate this still fragile growth.

For this reason, concerns remain about planned restructuring measures, some of which are part of the so-called “country package” that is to be overseen by the Caribbean reform and development body COHO with the Netherlands. Although undoubtedly well-intentioned and necessary in certain cases, their immediate impact on the already ailing private sector needs to be considered.

Granted, a non-resident real estate tax, the aggressive collection of unpaid rental fees, a direct import (mail order) tax and the increase in the social security SSV wage cap to 120,000 Dutch Antillean guilders per year may not seem very drastic. However, possible negative effects that together they could only have on the dominant hotel industry in the short term from a deep and sustained slump cannot be overlooked, especially under the currently difficult circumstances.

Traditional wisdom would suggest that, especially in rough seas, it is probably better not to rock the boat too much.

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