The Prime Minister indicated that the budget cut was one of the conditions set by the Netherlands to obtain the loan in June 2020 to help cover the liquidity deficit.
The Prime Minister also explained how difficult it was back in May 2020, when they had no other option, other than to accept the budget cut of 5 million florins per month. The CAFT proposed a 5 million budget cut for the year, and the Netherlands converted this to 5 million a month of 60 million florins a year.
The Government of Aruba is doing their best to eliminate this condition and present other more justified alternatives as a replacement. On February 1, 2021, the government added this matter to the agenda for discussion with the Netherlands. However, State Secretary, Raymond Knops rejected this proposal and requested the Prime Minister to proceed with the agreed budget cut.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health managed to reduce the 5 million budget cut to 2 million, after consulting with the Government. They are however pending other decisions for a more structural reduction of the healthcare expenses.
The Prime Minister thanked the healthcare professionals for their outstanding work during the pandemic, who sometimes had to work under harsh circumstances, and asked the healthcare professionals for their cooperation in finding a proposal together to improve medical care while lowering the healthcare costs.
The Director of Finance gave a presentation on the current financial situation of Aruba which is appalling. His presentation called “in the eye of the hurricane” illustrates the severity of the economic situation for 2021 and 2022.
The Interim AZV Director gave a presentation of the current situation of the AZV and the dependency of AZV on Government contributions. The AZV income has drastically decreased since more people are paying lower AZV fees. The only remaining alternative is the contribution from the Government.
“On behalf of the Government and the Aruban community, I would like to wish you success and knowledge, to help us find a solution because we don’t want to proceed with the 5 million budget cut just like that. Covid hit us hard, harder than any other country since we depend on tourism more than any other country. The only option we had to get out of this crisis was to accept help from the Netherlands, which we did. If we now work together, work for Aruba, I am confident that we will succeed” the Prime Minister said.