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Letter from the president: Historic Agreement signed will put Curaçao at the next level

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At the beginning of the year, in my 2014 annual speech to the business community at Brakkeput Mei-Mei, I said that for Curaçao to go to the next level we need a New Game Plan, which was the title of my speech. I also stated that it is necessary to change the way we do business. What the Chamber means is that we have to change the way our system as a whole works for the development of the country. During the last decades there has been only one important change in the structure in the economy, which was based on a decision we made together: putting the sector Tourism as our number one priority. That change has made tourism the engine that powers our economy; going from producing 200 million ANG a year to a billion ANG a year, in less than 20 years a 5-fold increase. We still have to make some concerted decisions as to where we want to stand in the coming 20 years when it comes to our other exporting sectors. Each and every economic development is related to confidence; it is the confidence, which is the compass for entrepreneurial behavior, resulting in economic activity.

As a result of the employers’ association, the VBC, signing a letter of intent with the political leaders of the government coalition, aimed at a closer relationship between government and the private sector with the goal to facilitate economic and social development, we have been discussing mutually important issues that needed adaptation in order to contribute to a better investment climate and an improvement in the way business is conducted in Curaçao, and help create the confidence we needed to start moving forward again. After meetings with the coalition party leaders an historic agreement has been reached. It is the first agreement of its kind in the short history of our new country of Curaçao, but also for the former Netherlands Antilles, where public and private sector have agreed to make some fundamental changes in our entrepreneurial environment. An interesting note is that we have even reached an agreement on a deadline, by which the points agreed upon should have been executed, namely October 15th, 2014.

An agreement has been reached on the following:
• introducing a competitive system of permits, where companies, start-ups and expanders, which removes all red tape, and in fact, abolishes red tape;
• amendment of immigration policies, focusing on facilitation of the target groups which we want to attract to the island due to their economic significance, i.e. investors permits, foreign students, 2nd home owners, etc;
• cooperate in formulating and executing a comprehensive plan to address youth unemployment issues;
• we also agreed to stimulate a better and positive way of doing business through introduction of a concept similar to what is known as a “Better Business Bureau”, and to develop and execute a program aimed at stimulating a culture of “social corporate responsibility”.

Dear reader, with this historic agreement we at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry believe that we managed together to turn the corner when it comes to growing our economy; this platform has all the potential to fuel confidence in our economic development and getting it to the next level, making Curaçao a better place to do business!