Published On: Fri, Mar 4th, 2016

Chamber of Commerce: “Port too important for the economy and future Curaçao”

PortWILLEMSTAD - This last week we have followed very closely the CPS / CPA discussion over the harbor, and with great concern. From 2008 there is a debate about the contract with CPS, including the maintenance of cranes and quay of the Brion Yard.

In the opinion of the Chamber of Commerce this all takes far too long and now we are in an unacceptable situation where at any moment the harbor cranes could fall out, which causes great harm to our people, our economy and our international position. This situation may result in a shortage of goods and a rise in prices, which neither our economy nor our population can afford.

Based on the statement made by the Minister of Economic Development, we conclude that there is a contract on the table which indicates that the parties have found each other. Apparently this means that in the new contract the CPS will make an investment of 50 million guilders for the harbor cranes in exchange for exclusivity to be allowed to operate on the Brion Wharf for 25 years and no longer at other ports in Curaçao as is currently the case.

What is also important is that CPS must meet several criteria of transparency and control of service, maintenance and investment, and at the end of the period, all equipment should be transferred to CPA. We believe that this is the best option for our port.

A good example in Curaçao where a similar structure has demonstrated good results is our airport. There a private company has a concession of 30 years in exchange for investments they need to do, and follows rules that are included in a contract (DOMA), which the company must follow. In that case we have an airport that grows and generates funds for the country’s treasury instead of costing this government (i.e. the population of the island) money, and headaches.

We of the Chamber of Commerce believe that, as a private company that wants to make a million investment, it is normal for this company to get sufficient time to recoup that investment.

In the message of the President at the beginning of the year, the Chamber of Commerce said that public companies should leave business to the private sector. That is, if there are private investors who want to do business and invest in our infrastructure, there is no reason that a public company should do the same. The money the government invests through its companies would be better invested in projects such as our education. We therefore support the construction in which CPA leases its properties to private investors for operations and CPA keeps track of the conditions of the concession and the business side is left to the private sector.

If at the end of the day the parties are ready to sign a new contract on short notice, which provides millions of investments in cranes and quay and more "checks and balances" to ensure a sustainable solution that offers CPS, CPA and the population of Curaçao better protection than is currently the case under the current contract, the Government must take that alternative into consideration and on very short notice via CPA find a solution to the situation of new cranes. This means that CPA (read: the government of Curaçao) must make investments, but CPS should immediately be informed that the current contract will not be renewed at the end of it and then the process must be started to find another private company to sustainable and competitively manage the cost of investment and the Brion Yard for the local people and the international market.

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