One week from today the Kingdom Council of Ministers is to decide on a third tranche of COVID-19 crisis-related liquidity support for Curaçao, St. Maarten and Aruba. Conditions for such set by the Dutch government and particularly Undersecretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops include packages of far-reaching social, economic, and financial restructuring measures to be supervised by a Dutch-controlled Caribbean Reform Entity (CRE) for the former two countries and Organization for Reform and Recovery Aruba (ORRA) for the latter.
St. Maarten was yet to fully comply with all requirements for the second tranche of –already received – coronavirus loans, according to the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, so it will not even qualify for the next phase if those are not met first. The Parliaments of all three Dutch Caribbean countries are firmly against The Hague’s current approach and requested the intervention of Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in his capacity as Chairman of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
Knops has meanwhile been called to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament about the issue on Wednesday, two days before the crucial Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting. Sending a representative or small delegation of each of the three islands’ parliaments to the Netherlands to witness the legislative debate on this matter at least as observer with some behind-the-scenes input might be worthwhile considering.
And if it comes down to “make or break it” in the Kingdom Council next Friday, one or more members of the Jacobs Cabinet should surely be present, in addition to the plenipotentiary minister in The Hague.
Perhaps a transitional arrangement to prevent deadlock with all possible consequences can be agreed on, such as an advance on the third tranche of funding pending further talks. Ultimately this is not so much about being right or wrong, but about safeguarding the people’s wellbeing under unprecedented circumstances as best possible.