September 12, 2020 THE HAGUE - Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten urgently need the money and hope that The Hague will relax the conditions for this. “We are not negotiating our proposal,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte now also says firmly. The conditions have been on the table since July, but as long as the islands do not agree or comply with them, there will be no money. The islands fear that their autonomy and democracy will be eroded if they agree to the Dutch conditions. Aruba angry with the Netherlands
The tone of Aruba has remained friendly and diplomatic towards the Netherlands in recent months. Until this week. Aruba accuses Undersecretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) of having changed the conditions for a third emergency loan for the second time "at the last minute". Instead of 95 million euros for three months, Aruba has to bridge five months with that amount. As a result, the island is again in payment problems and the government says it has to borrow extra money.
Undersecretary Knops is "extremely surprised" that Aruba does not agree with the conditions for a third emergency loan. Moreover: “We spoke for two months, also during my vacation. If you wait a long time, then it is of course not the case that those terms remain the same.”
The Dutch cabinet, therefore, thinks it will take "still weeks" before the corona loans will eventually be issued. Whether Prime Minister Rutte himself has hope that The Hague and the islands will still resolve this? "I don't use those kinds of terms."
“I understand that it is politically complicated on the islands, but it is, of course, important to make a decision,” says Rutte.
Borrow money without help from The Hague?
Aruba is trying to find a party on the international capital market that wants to lend the island money. Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes reported in a televised speech on Thursday evening that she has found a willing party.
Undersecretary Knops indicates on Friday that Aruba first needs a green light from The Hague. "That may also have consequences for the package of conditions that we already had in July."
The Netherlands wants to guarantee hundreds of millions of euros. The loan through The Hague will be interest-free. The islands will have to repay tens of millions extra via the international market.
The Aruban government says, just like Curaçao and St. Maarten, it will continue to "constructively" talk with the Netherlands. The other two islands do not (yet) have an institution on the international market that is seriously interested in lending them money.
Prime Minister Rhuggenaath "positive"
Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath also gave a national speech on radio and TV on Thursday evening. He characterized the conversations with the Netherlands as "intensive" and are conducted from "a positive approach". He did not say whether an agreement will be reached