The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents the private sector in Curaçao, voicing the interests of the whole business community, keeping a record of both domestically active and internationally operating legal entities and companies and providing support and information to local and international companies interested in setting up a business in Curaçao, or trading or exporting through or from Curaçao.
In order to do this effectively, the Chamber has various divisions that promote business in Curaçao, as well as track economic growth. Mr. Dennis Dare is a senior economist at the Chamber and has worked in various sectors providing unique insights to the island’s economy. Curaçao Business Magazine had the opportunity to interview Mr. Dare, and learn more about his background and ideas.
CBM: What did you study?
DD: I have a degree in macroeconomics, with a specialization in development economics. Basically this entails the ability to utilize historical, social, economic, monetary, financial, fiscal, institutional and geographical factors to establish the right policy mix to resolve issues that developing countries are facing, and in particular, spur economic growth. Development economics therefore has to balance a combination of structural policy actions to achieve consistent economic development. This is certainly a challenging but rewarding feat.
CBM: Upon completing your studies, why did you decide to move back to Curaçao?
DD: After my studies, I was working in Suriname. One day, it dawned on me that I needed to return home. I moved back and for a while, I worked for the government in the Department of Development Cooperation. After completing the Business Development Scheme, which had the purpose of strengthening businesses in Curaçao, a job at the Chamber of Commerce opened up, so I moved to the private sector.
CBM: As a senior economist at the Chamber of Commerce, what does your job entail exactly?
DD: The work of a senior economist at the Chamber is very demanding, with a mix of scientific and practical roles. In the past, I worked towards setting up institutions to improve the island’s economic and financial infrastructure. One example of this is the Export Risk Insurance Agency, supporting local export companies to insure their risks in the case of a default with an overseas importing company. Another example is the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, with the view to matching savings with investment, facilitating a company’s expansion, and providing safe exit routes for business owners of listed companies.
The work of a senior economist at the Chamber is very demanding, with a mix of scientific and practical roles.
I am also responsible for weighing in on national policies that directly affect the island’s financial and economic conditions. I have provided advice on labor force development, a private capital-based pension system, export incentives and tax reform, among other things. Economic impact studies and other research on the balance of payments, as well as the impact of private and foreign direct investment on employment are also part of the job.
Recently, special attention has been given to researching the various service industries and their potential target markets to support firms in their quest to increase overseas sales, as well as devising economic policy focused on innovation and exportable businesses.
CBM: What does your average day look like?
DD: My days vary a lot; that’s the beauty of it. It’s always exciting and challenging. One day I might work on an impact study of a proposed new tax or minimum wage law. The next day I will do research on the potential impact of a global trend on our island or a high-impact event in a certain country or I may work on some investment infrastructure issue. The following day a benchmark study is needed in the area of export or investment promotion or taxes.
An average day can also include a review of the labor market, balance of payments, or advice on international trade. Attending Chamber board meetings and answering economic inquiries from business owners, students, public servants, international organizations or foreign entities are also all part of a typical day’s work.
CBM: What impact does your job have on the development of Curaçao?
DD: I am principally an advisor and that says it all. Years ago, with the general expenditure tax, the economic model pointed out that passing the law could result in a loss of jobs for more than 2,000 citizens. The law was, despite the admonition, approved by Parliament. Consequently, 2,000 persons lost their job in the private sector and 1,900 were laid off in the public sector. As an advisor, I see the importance of carrying out economic impact studies and cost-benefit analyses before making decisions, because as demonstrated above, these models do have truth to them. In addition, one always needs to consider the long-run implications, whether a specific development serves the general interest in creating a better economy, generating more jobs and foreign exchange. Working in a tripartite setting on structural improvements of the labor market and business climate is, therefore, crucial.
CBM: What is your vision for Curaçao in the near future and ten years from now?
DD: I think one of the most important aspects of my vision is improved cooperation between the Parliament, Government, Non-Profit and Private Sector, fostering economic development and growth. Once collaboration is optimized, the potential of Curaçao will actually be realized. This will lead to transparent rules and regulation compliance with accountability across all sectors. The decision-making process will be clear and the adherence to higher standards will build trust. Courageous decision- makers take the necessary steps to stimulate sound public-private dialogue and cooperation, taking the general interest of our citizens into account.
Curaçao will be exceptionally successful in the global arena, as we encourage innovation and support new startups with exportable business models and at the same time, build national capacities through contemporary education systems and specialized skill development. Our successful private enterprises will continue to thrive generating employment, higher wages, and thus higher living standards for our citizens.
CBM: If you had a message for future generations in Curaçao what would it be?
DD: Always think positive, speak positive, act positive and expect your miracle. Be courageous, be open for dialogue, listen carefully and dare to act.