Published On: Tue, Apr 11th, 2017

Not the answer

WILLEMSTAD - That the Kingdom Council of Ministers would annul Curaçao’s so-called 80/20 Law (see Saturday paper) was to be expected. Limiting all employers to a maximum of 20 per cent immigrant workers was considered discriminatory, against the principle of equality and in violation of international treaties by Governor Lucille George-Wout, who refused to sign the National Ordinance and submitted it to The Hague for annulment.

There was initially an issue with the term “local,” because officially there is no such thing as a Curaçao national; only citizens with passports of the Netherlands. It was therefore changed to Dutch Caribbean-born personnel, which in theory could also include foreign residents on the various islands.

More important, Curaçao’s own Council of Advice saw no pressing reason that would justify such drastic action to protect the country’s labour market. Especially due to its general nature the measure was also viewed as undue interference by Government in the private sector. The Council of State will now look at the proposed legislation, but is likely to come to the same conclusions.

In St. Maarten too similar quotas had been announced some years ago for various segments of the tourism economy. It was obvious from the beginning that many of the percentages mentioned were quite unrealistic and hardly possible to enforce without inflicting serious damage on the business community.

This was never fully recognised by the authorities, who nonetheless decided not to implement the contested policy across the board, but to use common sense. The latter seems to be working fairly well in practice.

It’s been said before, but creating more job opportunities for residents instead of hiring people from abroad is first and foremost a question of education and vocational training. Closing the border is not the answer, but rather opening the door to knowledge, abilities and skills that can help empower people and really make a difference.

The Daily Herald

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