Published On: Mon, Dec 30th, 2013


Jacob Gelt DekkerWelfare and well being in 2014 and thereafter, for the little autonomous island of Curacao, will totally depend on government’s ability and willingness, to allow entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities, and deal effectively with challenges in the global markets. Swift, decisive action with new laws, rules and regulations to open up the market is essential.

A few examples are worthwhile mentioning. 1. New Middle Class: For the first time in the existence of the world, more than 2 billion people will enter the middle class in the next 5 years. In the latter part of 19th century, the Industrial Revolution lifted millions of country peasants out of a millennium long cycle of poverty and gave them entry to the middleclass. After World War II and during the 1950-1970, it happened again and a second wave joined the wealthy middle. The third wave started since the former -USSR, China and India abandoned Communism and introduced a free market economy. A new miraculous vertical economic migration is now in process. For the first time in their existence of mankind, an extra estimates two billion people will enjoy a middle class income and life style, before 2020. Hundreds of million will travel and enjoy a vacation for the first time in their life.

In the immediate Curacao region, similar processes are taking place in Brazil and Colombia. Immediately, Curacao’s tourist and financial industry could take advantage of these new, fast growing emerging markets by removing outdated visa barriers, rewriting immigration laws and allowing hub-status to regional and foreign airlines.

2. New energy markets: The demand for energy in these fast growing and new economies restructured the energy markets totally. High hopes were focused on renewable energy sources, but economic and technical developments have been extremely disappointing; China and America’s largest solar panel factories have gone bankrupt. After nearly 30 years, not even 0.1% of the world energy market is supplied by solar power. Since 2000, radical new developments in exploration and exploitation of shale oil and natural gas have radically changed the energy landscape. The USA, once the largest imported of fossil fuels, is expected to be a net exporter within the next 5 years. The economic benefit emphasis will shift away from the Middle East and Venezuela as major suppliers, and be recaptured by the USA.

Curacao’s oil refinery, shipping, dry-docks and airline industries depend heavily on the welfare of Venezuela and its national oil company, PDVSA. The present rapidly imploding Venezuelan economy and the dramatic deterioration of PDSVSA will inevitably adversely affect Curacao. Only rapid and decisive action by the Curacao government can shift these markets away from disaster and toward new opportunities, like bunkering, mammoth tanker shipping and transshipment of US- liquefied natural gas.

3. Internet opportunities. The Internet supplied many opportunities to communicate with world markets. It also connected the island with the opportunity of high quality, on- line education. The so-called MOOC, massive open on-line courses, could bring the Curacao- work force up to higher training level, at very little expense, time and local investment. The government has the unique opportunity to accredit on- line learning, and to make it available immediately to the present traditional educational system as well as the individual student. The enormous mismatch between what present education offers and what employers demand can be eliminated quickly.

4. Drugs. More than 20 states in the USA and many countries in the EU allow medical and recreational use of marijuana. The rigid drug laws of Curacao are outdated and demand change. More than fifty years of extensive and exhaustive public debate has highlighted every aspect of such liberalization. No sensible argument can be brought forward to continue the present backward situation. An immediate end to the soft drug prohibition on the island would result in decriminalization and bring a large part of the extensive shadow drug economy into full daylight. Agriculture, distribution, and tourism would benefit tremendously. A rich stream of taxes could supply the local government with much needed funds.

Conclusion. These are only a few aspects, and many more could be listed. One thing is obvious; your government could either become the winning leader and hero that bring prosperity and glory, or remain the stumbling block prolonging the cycle of poverty.

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