photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE – Minister Knops (Kingdom Relations) wants to look into how Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten can be helped out financially. The islands will also experience economic setbacks due to the corona outbreak.

The Caribbean municipalities Bonaire, Saba, and Statia can count on a financial aid package from the Hague. People and business who lose income due to the corona crisis will receive a compensation.

That is not the case for Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, because they are autonomous countries within the Kingdom.

More financial wiggle room for Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten
Before this the islands had gotten an instruction from the Hague which stated that they needed to drastically cut back their expenses. Minister Raymond Knops acknowledges that the islands are currently dealing with ‘budgetary constraints’ during this time of crisis.

The economy on the islands are for a large part dependent on tourism. Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus this sector will suffer the most.
“In the current extraordinary situation, we are looking into the possibilities that the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands provides for exceptions in the law and regulations to enable the countries to weather the crisis as well as possible”, according to the minister.

Curaçao: ‘We need support’
“We need financial support”, says the Speaker of the Parliament of Curaçao, William Millerson (PAR). “We won’t be able to provide the support needed, looking at our precarious financial and economic situation.”

The Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) calls upon the Netherlands for financial support. The bank warns of ‘mass lay-offs’ if an emergency loan is not granted, because the islands don’t have the financial breathing room to withstand downturns as the Netherlands does.

“It is exactly in these times that the countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands have to support each other. Solidarity is more important now than ever”, according to acting president José Jardim (CBCS). “Curaçao and Sint Maarten are facing a difficult challenge.”

“The challenges of the near future will put enormous pressure on the government of both countries. The CBCS will do its upmost best to support the governments of both Curaçao and Sint Maarten.”

‘Council of Ministers for the Kingdom ASAP’
The Board of Financial Supervision (CFT), which supervises the finances of the islands, and the International Monetary Fund will map out what the islands need.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom will be called as soon as possible in the Hague, where decisions will be made for the autonomous islands. The ministry cannot give an exact date. “As soon as possible.”

According to a spokesperson for the ministry it could be as early as next week, but that ‘depends on the speed’ with which the financial institutions can write up their advices.