Monday, May 20th

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Editorial - Reserve judgement

The UP-led coalition submitted its governing programme “Ready to Work for You” on Thursday. Better late than never, considering that it comes almost seven months after the Gumbs cabinet took office.

The question is also to what extent the policy intentions can be achieved in light of the current financial situation, with a looming instruction from the Kingdom Council of Ministers to settle the arrears totalling 189 million guilders to Social and Health Insurance SZV and the general pension fund APS. Surely anything that is not already in the budget will be difficult to realise this year without either cutting other cost or increasing revenue.

Moreover, the current problems are likely to reflect on the budgets of 2016, 2017 and even 2018 too. In addition to the debts mentioned, there remain previous fiscal deficits that still must be compensated for.

Indications are that another minister will be appointed to approach the “normal” number of seven, rather than the current five as the only candidates on the submitted list able to pass the strict screening for such applied under pressure of the Netherlands via the governor. Whoever is now nominated most probably will have to meet those same standards.

Opposition member Sarah Wescot-Williams has rung the alarm bell because apparently there will be a reshuffling whereby Minister Claret Connor is to be moved from Tourism and Economic Affairs to the Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI portfolio now held on an interim basis by Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. The DP leader is worried about the state of the hospitality sector and especially the lack of representation abroad, funds, cohesive direction, dialogue between industry partners and investments in the product.

Her concern is understandable, as it regards the livelihood of practically all who make the island their home. Continuity is indeed important, certainly in an increasingly competitive market and with the opening up of Cuba as destination for Americans.

However, there may be good reasons for the switch, such as not having an alternative deemed suitable to head this equally crucial ministry. It’s also hard to form a solid opinion on the issue without knowing who the new envisioned Tourism Minister actually would be.

Until then, the prudent attitude is to reserve judgement.