This morning the Royal Council of Ministers (RMR) held a meeting to which Curacao’s minister plenipotentiary Mr A. Begina participated on behalf of our country. During the meeting the ministers discussed the urgent request for financial aid (for three months), which Curacao submitted to Mr Knops and Mr Rutte. on April 1rst, 2020. In conformity with the request by Mr. Knops the Financial Supervision College (Cft.) issued an advice on Curacao’s need for liquidity for April 2020 on 7 April 2020. On the basis of the documents and the advice mentioned above, the RMR have made the following decisions:
*). For the time being Curacao will receive financial aid for the loss of income and the measures to save jobs. The money available is Nafl. 105 million for April 2020 and Nafl. 72 million for half of May 2020. This means a total of ANG 177 million for the next six weeks. The financial aid is in the form of a loan for two years, the so-called ‘bulletlening’, at 0% interest. After two years the aid will be refinanced and the period of amortization and other appropriate criteria will be discussed.
*). Cft. will monitor the appropriate administration of and the application for the financial aid available, paying special attention to efficiency and avoiding bureaucracy.
*). With regard to the package of aid measures in its totality, which is Nafl. 755 million according to the calculations by the ‘Noodfonds’ committee, the countries will continue to hold intensive talks the coming periods in order to reach structural agreements. The government has requested the financial aid partially in the form of a gift (‘schenking’) by stating article 36 of the Constitution, which is: ‘steunend op eigen kracht, doch met de wil elkander by te staan (relying on one’s own power but with the will to assist each other’).
In this framework, the Government of Curacao stresses that the decision by RMR is the first step. Further meetings will be held to reach a decision on the road ahead of us to exit this crisis better and as soon as possible. The transparent meetings and communications are necessary to reach the best vision and solution on the short and long term for our country. The government is aware of the mixed reactions in the community to today’s decision. Some people are satisfied, some unsatisfied, with the manner in which we have received the first part of the aid. The government considers today’s decision to be the beginning of a trajectory with the Netherlands. In this respect, we are aware that at a certain moment we must pay back the money we have borrowed. Paying back the money will be a heavy load in the future. Therefore, we will continue to deliberate through the Kingdom government on the structural road to take in order to come out of this crisis.
The government emphasizes that every person in Curacao must realize from now that we are entering a new era. This means that after we have managed to contain the virus in our community with as little effect as possible on the public’s health, it does not mean that we can expect to return to business as usual. We must do everything necessary to recuperate as soon as possible.
However, the reality is that the whole world is feeling the effects and we must adapt to it because we depend a great deal on the developments in other countries. In this framework, we must be prepared for a few years of economic and financial pain more severe than that which we have experienced up till now. Each one of us will experience the effects of the crisis, which requires national solidarity to combat. National solidarity also means that the things that were impossible must become possible, and straight away. Only in this manner can we limit the period of pain. If we do not take the necessary steps, even the difficult ones, the pain will last much longer.
Various projects and laws are pending for quite some time, such as the option for civil servants to go on pension voluntarily, the zero line for civil servants, the subsidy system for foundations that are not effective sufficiently, the expenses of the public apparatus, the steps to optimal digitalisation. Often they are legal aspects and they last quite some time. We must not neglect the law obviously but if in this crisis we require more rapid legal trajectories, we must be willing to follow them.