Once again it’s been demonstrated that history is full of moments when people should have easily seen what was coming – like when petroleum apprentice Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) was chosen to operate the Curaçao refinery, only to later confirm that this Chinese state enterprise was just smoke and mirrors. I’m not going to repeat my countless warnings we should have taken heed of, but will refer below to my past articles.
What’s past is past. Mistakes were made, but we must move forward. This means looking for serious, experienced, financially sound actors that are environmentally and socially responsible to shape the future of our refinery. We must however neither forget the past nor ignore the lessons learned from this GZE episode.
1. We should realize that we can’t afford the kind of division we’ve seen so far in Government, especially the power struggle between the Prime Minister and his deputy. Instead of having political surrogates twist themselves into knots to deny this political row, the coalition must resolve it. Division weakens us.
2. This failed episode is a tragic tale of GZE zeroing in on what opportunistic politicians want: economic miracle without meaningful structural reforms that stand in the way of sustained growth. Modernization of the refinery is no substitute for the much needed policy reforms, however unpopular they may be.
3. What’s past is past, but in the spirit of truth and transparency, this GZE chapter needs to be investigated in order to understand what went wrong, learn from these missteps. Actors need to be made responsible for their actions.
4. We must use all resources available locally, via the Kingdom of The Netherlands and internationally to identify capable partners and to assist us during the ensuing negotiation process.
5. Complete transparency and relevant information from the beginning to the end of the refinery project is a must as is outreach to all stakeholders which must get the opportunity to voice concern. This will reduce distrust.
6. Keep the dialogue going with the Chinese. No party wants to rush to arbitration. And, China as the largest foreign investor in Latin America and the Caribbean, may still want a role in the refinery project or other investment opportunities here. We should not burn our bridges behind us.