We’ll get back to you when we’re done

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One of the assumptions scientists make in order to create theoretical models is to hold some variables constant, a concept known in Latin as ceteris paribus. Whilst this makes sense in laboratories, it’s not the case in the real world. Meaning, we can’t assume others will stand still as we sort things out. Yet, in Curaçao we’ve been telling the world for too long: “we’ll get back to you when we’re done”.

When the world was getting ready in 1994 for the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules-based global trade, we doubled down on inward-looking protection policies. Today we still don’t comply with WTO and have zero trade agreements. When we had a chance in 2006 to become an associate member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), we told Georgetown we’ll get back to them. When we finally did, we found out that becoming an associate member became more complicated than before.

Since we became a country in 2010, we’ve promised to change the name of our currency. We still use Ang, the currency of the non-existing Netherlands Antilles which makes certain transactions difficult (ex. Ang doesn’t appear in the U.N. bank system). We complain about the Curaçao-St. Maarten monetary union but haven’t decided if we want to terminate it or introduce the much needed macroeconomic coordination mechanisms for it to function.

After 8 years we still don’t find the country option “Curaçao” in many online (payment) systems. We want a referendum, but don’t care that we don’t have a referendum law. We still don’t see the importance of phytosanitary regulation or technical barriers to trade which means that practically anything can be imported into our country whether it’s dangerous or not. Anyone in Curaçao can call himself a veterinary and while the world uses sanctions to punish those who commit atrocious human rights violations, we remain ‘unconvinced’ of the usefulness of amending the Sanctions National Ordinance. I could go on. 

Where does this idea that Curaçao is the center of the universe come from? Probably no one knows. What I do know is that this behavior doesn’t happen overnight; the seeds are sown deep within our institutions, both public and private. What’s also obvious is that this kind of behavior hinders us to take advantage of our society’s huge potential for growth. 

The world moves on. It’s dynamic, not static. Ain’t no one going to wait for us. Now more than ever, we need to reset our development button. We must recognize the urgent need for frank conversations on a new approach and to do things differently.

Istanbul, Turkey

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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