Published On: Wed, Jan 30th, 2013

Jonckheer: Economic growth priority no. 1 for Curaçao

WILLEMSTAD – “Economic growth is now priority no. 1 for Curaçao. Now’s the time to solve matters that should have been tackled years ago”, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Billy Jonckheer, said during the New Years event of the Chamber of Commerce, at Brakkeput Mei Mei. In his speech, with ‘All hands on deck’ as motto, he listed several concrete measures that are to improve and simplify ‘doing business’ on the island. According to Jonckheer, the economic growth on Curaçao is lagging behind on that of other islands in the Caribbean area, partly because ‘a population of 150,000 is simply too small’. He therefore thinks it’s important that professionals, companies and others establish themselves temporarily or permanently, and requests the minister of Justice to adjust the immigration process. According to Jonckheer, it will be necessary to introduce several types of visa, such as temporary visa for international students, visa longer than three months per year for pensioners with a residence on the island, and a visa for tourists.

Jonckheer further suggests making Curaçao attractive for young professionals to settle on the island and predicts many young Curaçao citizens will return to the island once the economy starts improving. Jonckheer requests the minister of Economic Development to work on a procedure for an ‘Automatic Business License’, whereby new companies from locals and foreigners are given a ‘red carpet treatment’. It is also important to reduce the bureaucracy and the waiting time to establish companies.

Furthermore, we must simplify export through the ‘Export facility Law’; improve the education for qualified personnel; increase the airlift from North and South American markets; further develop the dock and the airport, expand the harbor beyond the Schottegat, and build a second cruise terminal.

Jonckheer is confident that the current task-cabinet is taking the situation seriously. “Minister of Economic Development, Steven Martina, made it clear to us that he will tackle the problem of economic growth, based on a ‘public-private partnership’. The Chamber of Commerce endorses this entirely.”

Criticism on civil servants

In his speech, Billy Jonckheer didn’t have a good word to say about the civil servants who recently accomplished to be excluded from the basic medical insurance. “Curaçao wrestles with enormous deficits and it’s important that everyone bears this burden. The public sector must realize it is an integral part of the community and that we have a mutual responsibility. The private sector is already paying its part and contributes toward solving the current crisis by paying the higher premiums, even though it’s already costing a lot to do business. Why must we foot the bill for the public sector?”

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