Coalition MP: 5.1% Interest rate for “humanitarian” Corona loan refinancing is unacceptable

October 16, 2023  –WILLEMSTAD – With great astonishment and deep disappointment, Ramon Yung, Member of Parliament for the coalition party MFK, says he has learned of the recent decision by the Dutch government to refinance the Corona loans to Curaçao at an interest rate of 5.1%. This decision raises questions about Curaçao’s interests and appears to be in conflict with the intentions expressed in the letter from the Curaçao government of October 10. 

Representatives of Curaçao pointed out to Dutch officials on July 18 the unreasonable conditions set regarding the Ennia loan. On July 23rd, the Curaçao government was forced to make a written appeal to the Dutch government to seek a more reasonable solution. Despite several attempts to discuss alternative solutions, these have remained unsuccessful to date. The refinancing of the Corona loans is also linked to a solution for the Ennia matter before October 10, 2023. 

This situation is reminiscent of the negotiations between the Curaçao government and former Secretary of State, Mr. Raymond Knops, where pressure was exerted to accept the Kingdom Act COHO, despite an adverse opinion from both the Council of State and the Advisory Council of Curaçao. While it is understandable that the Dutch government, partly due to previous Curaçao governments, has set conditions for the refinancing of the Corona loans, this situation raises questions regarding the autonomy of the islands. 

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, it became evident that Curaçao, as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, required financial assistance to address the pandemic’s consequences. The Netherlands provided financial aid, but Yung had not expected the imposition of significant interest rates on humanitarian loans to Curaçao by the Netherlands. This appears to contradict the idea of alleviating suffering and supporting those already facing difficulties. 

In a letter from State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen to the Dutch Parliament on April 4, 2022, she emphasized the vulnerability of the small-scale and often one-sided economies of the autonomous countries, which became even more apparent due to the coronavirus pandemic. The State Secretary expressed concern about poverty and livelihood security and stressed the importance of placing the residents’ perspectives at the forefront. She also called for cooperation based on equality and reciprocity, with attention to constitutional relationships, local challenges, and opportunities. The State Secretary stated that concrete results for the residents can only be achieved through closer collaboration and shared responsibilities. 

However, a loan of 660 million euros for a restart of Ennia appears to have significant potential consequences for Curaçao, making the country financially, economically, and socioeconomically highly vulnerable. The Committee of Financial Supervision (Cft) has repeatedly cautioned against taking on this Ennia loan, which appears to contradict the wish of State Secretary Van Huffelen to visibly and sustainably improve the socioeconomic situation of the residents of the autonomous countries. 

Recent apologies on behalf of His Majesty the King and the government of the Netherlands for the way in which Tula lost his life in his struggle against slavery were appreciated. Nevertheless, these noble words seem to lose their value due to announced “solutions” that appear to sow division and are not in the interest of the residents of the autonomous countries. 

Yung requests the involved parties to seriously consider this matter and strive for a fair and constructive solution that aligns with the interests of Curaçao and the expressed intentions in prior communication.  

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