Coronavirus COVID 19


Willemstad – The economies of Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten seem to be more affected by the corona crisis than other Caribbean countries. The open economies of the three countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom play a role in this, ”according to a publication in ESB, trade journal for economists. In it Koert van Buiren writes, among other things, that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates shrinkage figures for the three countries twice as high as the Caribbean average. “A successful recovery of tourism as an economic pillar requires a reorientation and a greater role for the government,” argues the partner at Economisch Bureau Amsterdam and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. The contraction of the real gross domestic product (GDP) of Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten is estimated by the IMF to be 20 to 25 percent respectively for 2020. “It is striking that Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten are being hit considerably harder by the corona crisis than other Caribbean countries. That’s because they have more open and more trade and tourism-oriented economies than most other Caribbean areas. ” The corona crisis comes on top of “the silent crisis” that has unfolded in the Caribbean region over the past decade and about which Van Buiren has previously written. Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten were also in an unfavorable economic position when the current crisis presented itself. “The three countries were each affected by the corona crisis in their weakened economic positions.” Most autonomous countries in the Caribbean region receive emergency financial support from the IMF, aimed at preventing balance of payments problems caused by the corona crisis. This support, according to the author, “acts as a catalyst” for additional support from the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), the Development Bank for Latin America (CAF), and the donors and development organizations. Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten do not receive any financial support from the IMF due to their constitutional status. They do receive liquidity support from the Netherlands in the form of loans. With this support, the three countries finance emergency aid measures aimed at, among other things, maintaining employment, covering the financial deficits and keeping the foreign exchange stock up to standard. For the longer term, financial and economic reform programs (Country Packages) have been agreed with the Netherlands, which will be implemented in the coming years with the support of the Netherlands. “The measures taken by other Caribbean countries are broader than job retention, and more focused on income support for households,” said the economist. Particular attention is paid to workers in the informal sector, which is generally large in the Caribbean countries. Income support is also provided to vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the disabled. These groups are often financially dependent on family. Van Buiren: ,, Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten could also give more attention to this. ” In addition, economic reforms are needed. These are “essential” for the economic recovery and for structural resilience. Already before the corona crisis, several Caribbean countries have implemented or started reforms. For example, Jamaica (-8.6 percent of GDP in 2020) has completed a financial and economic reform program with the support of the IMF. As a result, the country has been able to reduce public debt, build the necessary buffers that can be deployed to combat the crisis, and the country is now economically resilient, which will help accelerate its exit from the current crisis. Barbados (-11.6 percent of GDP according to IMF) has started reforming the public sector and public companies, but there is still much room for improvement in the business environment. The country is seeking to accelerate recovery from the corona crisis by accelerating structural reforms. “Economic and financial reforms are also needed in Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten,” the ESB article continues. “It is evident what needs to be done for the reform of the labor market, the business climate, healthcare and the public sector. The speed with which the reforms are implemented will determine the strength of the recovery. ” Van Buiren argues for “reorientation of tourism policy”. “It is uncertain whether the corona crisis will cause a permanent shock to tourism, and how the pandemic will shape tourism in the Caribbean region in the long term,” said the author. Also, the pace at which tourism will develop.

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