In a recent article, Mr. Mike Willem, director of the Antillean Contractors Assocation (AAV), suggested that Curaçao must economize, reform and become cheaper. This since Curaçao’s economic growth has been 1 percent on average over the past 20 years. Focusing on ‘economizing’ is what Curaçao has been doing for 20 years, with success in some areas - look at our schools, roads, poverty and subsequent crime - but not in GDP growth. Why would continued focus on the same thing yield a different result this time around?
According to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Sweden and Holland, in that order, are the most competitive countries in the world. They are also nowhere near ‘cheap’, which, according to Mr. Willem, is IMF’s recipe for success. Instead, these countries have consciously sought and found high-added value sectors and jobs where a small cost-differential is not a deal-breaker.
In this increasingly competitive world it requires professional skill to find and analyze these opportunities. Unfortunately more than a generation of our best and ‘go-to’ professionals have specialized in economizing, becoming cheaper, repeating broad macro-economic tenets, regulations and laws. As a result, as a country we just don’t know how to identify and go after the high-added value innovative and global 21st century industries and opportunities. We also do not think it is a priority. Case in point? The new minister of Finance and Economic Development, himself a public finance expert, has enlisted the support of no less than three high level public finance experts, but, to my knowledge, not one expert in economic/business development, the area where the new minister is likely to be less strong. I am a business development strategist (often misunderstood and dismissed in Curaçao, I might add). I <I>just<I> returned from a business development conference. I respectfully submit that we must urgently professionalize our business development approach and skills, and make it a priority. After all, if our priority is to become cheaper, the simplest solution is that we all live in mud huts instead of brick houses.
Tamira La Cruz (MBA), Curaçao