Curacao Business Magazine | 2017, Edition 1

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Organizing Growth:

The Initiation of a National Dialogue

A New Normal

Curaçao is Ruled ‘Fully Compliant’

CPA and CPS Off to a New Start S&P Awards Aqualectra with an ‘A-‘ Financial Rating Nena Sanchez

It’s Never Too Late to Start Something New

EDITION 1 | 2017

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT infrastructure and training facilities for personnel. Curaçao also found a strategic partner in Guangdong Zhenrong Energy, which will invest in, modernize and operate the refinery, while Tourism is finding anchors in new markets. A new agreement was reached with Curaçao Port Services opening the way for more foreign investments in our harbors. These developments will, for the coming decades, provide a backbone for important export sectors of the economy of Curaçao, and will provide for the most important vehicle of social development, being jobs. Dear readers, The year 2017 starts with exiting economic prospects. Damen Shipyards Group will soon take over the operations of Curaçao Drydock Company and will invest 40 Million US Dollars in the

Now there is a solid consensus among stakeholders that increasing export in Curaçao is fundamental to long-term economic growth, and that a strong focus on diversification and facilitation of export should be developed. In 2017 the

coordination of efforts from the private and public sectors will be organized in a strategic partnership, having everyone on board on our journey towards organizing growth and reaping the fruits thereof. New ideas and entrepreneurs constitute economic development. Be inspired by the examples of innovations on wastewater, crowd funding and smart technology. Wishing you an inspiring 2017! Billy Jonckheer President Curaçao Chamber and Commerce and Industry

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR community and bring to you interesting articles that share their unique insights and perspective.

The New Year has begun with a promise of renewed energy and newfound opportunity. As we enter into the first quarter of 2017, this issue of the Curaçao Business Magazine brings with it a fresh new approach with greater momentum. I would like to introduce myself as the new Editor for the magazine, and with my wealth of experience in the communications field, I hope to make a significant contribution to this publication. I would also like to welcome my new team of contributing writers who have been the force behind this exciting issue. They draw from their experience in a wide range of sectors in the business

As we look forward to the year ahead, it has become increasingly clear that Curaçao’s future lies in technology. We find ourselves in a world that just a decade ago could have been described as a science fiction movie, with the realization of smart cities and virtual marketplaces. The world has indeed gotten smaller with the use of Internet-based technologies and we find ourselves at the threshold of great business and economic opportunities as we enter into new markets that extend themselves across the globe. The key is to seize these opportunities with a cohesive and organized effort from all sectors of the Curaçao business community. It is through an organized economic growth plan that we can, not only survive, but also thrive as a nation. In this issue, our main article talks about the collective initiative that has already been launched to spur such efforts towards organized economic growth. But tapping into the many opportunities that are based in new technology markets goes hand-in-hand with this economic

growth. This issue explores many different topics regarding technology and the opportunities to expand our business realm. Indeed, it is a fast-paced highway and the very nature of doing business has been revolutionized, and continues to change at break-neck speed. Various articles take a closer look at some of these changes and how we can make them work to our best advantage. Yet again, the one thing that has remained true is that the key to success lies in one’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing markets. I hope that this issue of the Curaçao Business Magazine, spurs a discussion of ideas on how we can all benefit from the vast potential that lies ahead on the technology highway and how swiftly we can adapt to change. Helen Griffith Editor-in-Chief

GUEST CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Farah Ayoubi started her writing career more than 20 years ago when she was still trying to work her way up the corporate ladder. For more than 10 years she owned a content providing company, which put her in charge of the production of many newsletters, websites, annual reports, corporate content and more. She stopped just long enough to fully pursue her dream of becoming a life coach, so as to empower all who need that extra oomph to reach for their dreams, in their own authentic way. Still empowering people thru coaching, she is now empowering herself as a freelance writer, combining the best of both careers.

--------------------------------------------------------------------Gonneke van den Kieboom is brand strategist and marketing communication professional, trend watcher and business innovator. Initiator of Creative Lab Curaçao and owner of WOW! Marketing Communication. She is a fierce advocate for innovation by incorporating creative entrepreneurship into every aspect of the economic development. She strongly believes that the broad spectrum of the creative industry can and will become the new economic pillar for Curaçao. Photo courtesy: Ton Verkuijlen Photography

--------------------------------------------------------------------Tjarrie Wijga is freelancer in marketing and communications who likes to talk & write. After 15 years of marketing campaigns and projects for many Dutch premium brands, she now has a more online focus: copy writing and content creation for several companies in Curacao and abroad. Tjarrie loves sunsets, watersports and wants to build a houseboat made of recycled plastic.


Carlinda van der Marel, Marketing Director and CEO of Social Lemons B.V. Social Media experts offering online and in-person Social Media training, consulting and strategic solutions. We help organizations and major brands use social media for marketing, customer service and internal communication.


Katy Branum was brought up in the great outdoors of Australia, and graduated from university with a BA in Business, which included a double major in Marketing and Management and a minor in Finance. Today, she enjoys living in Curaçao and is currently the Director of Stella Vanilla Consultancy, and works with many different publications.




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Korra Pietersz-Juliana is an entrepreneur in the field of wellness development and is on a quest to make Curaçao a wellness destination with her company Oasean Vision. She holds a Bachelor in International Tourism Management from Webber University and a Masters in International Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Since 2012 she has been creating new wellness concepts, organizes wellness events, develops corporate teambuilding programs with focus on wellness, and is currently adding a new wellness tourism brand to her scope of services.

--------------------------------------------------------------------Jeanise Job graduated with a Master’s

degree in Fiscal Economics from Tilburg University. Subsequently she finished both the Post-Masters in International Tax Law and the Masterclass Tax Accounting & Reporting from Nyenrode Business University. In 2010 she started working as a Tax Consultant at a Big Four tax firm in the Netherlands and in 2013 she joined Meijburg & Co Caribbean. She specializes in Tax Accounting & Risk Management Services, (TARMS), and focusses on Tax Accounting & Reporting as well as on Tax Assurance, mainly Tax Risk Management. Furthermore she provides advice to clients regarding, amongst others, profit tax, personal income tax, wage tax and tax structuring.

--------------------------------------------------------------------Jeannitza Felix graduated with a Mas-

ter’s degree in Fiscal Economics with a minor in Tax Assurance from Tilburg University. During her studies she worked at Meijburg & Co. Caribbean‘s desk in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In August 2016 she started working at Meijburg & Co. Caribbean’s main office in Curaçao where she specializes in Tax Assurance and Risk Management Services (TARMS). Furthermore she provides advice to clients regarding several fiscal issues in the fields of, amongst others, profit tax, income tax, wage tax and sales tax.


Heather de Paulo, was the first editor of Curacao Business Magazine and continues to work behind the scenes, writing articles, promoting the magazine and providing support, where needed. She is currently involved in various entrepreneurial roles, and with a Master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, plans to pursue her passion in eating local, eating clean and eating whole. ---------------------------------------------------------------------

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Curaçao Business PUBLISHER Curaçao Business Media Group b.v. POSTADRES ON CURAÇAO: Sta. Rosaweg 19 Willemstad, Curaçao EXPLOITATION Van Munster Media BV P1: Postbus 6684, NL-6503 GD Nijmegen, The Netherlands P2: Kerkenbos 12-24a, NL-6546 BE Nijmegen, The Netherlands T: +31(0) 24 373 8505 F: +31(0) 24 373 0933 I: PUBLISHER Michael van Munster T: +31(0) 24 373 8505 E: EDITOR IN CHIEF Helen Griffith SALES REPRESENTATIVE Jonathan Jonckheer SALES INQUIRIES Heather de Paulo

8 Organizing Growth: The Initiation of a National Dialogue

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions: NAF 35 per year (4 issues)

10 A NEW Normal: Curaçao is Ruled ‘Fully Compliant’ 12 CPA and CPS Off to a New Start


14 Caldera Targets Newcomers: As Damen Gears Up for Growth

ART PRODUCTION Jan-Willem Bouwman

16 S&P Awards Aqualectra with an ‘A-‘ Financial Rating

PHOTOGRAPHY Jonathan Jonckheer, Alberto Sanchez,

20 The Answer for Reduced Completeness and Accuracy Checks During Tax Audits 23 Recognizing MCB’s Historic Centennial

The publisher and its staff cannot be held liable for the contents of this magazine and statements and/ or its advertisements do not necessarily reflect its editorial views.

24 Getting Things Done: The New Way of Being More Productive 25 Facebook Features – Targeting & Retargeting

Although the greatest care was given to the accuracy of the information in this publication and checked where possible, the publisher and the editors explicitly contest any liability for any incorrectness or incompleteness of the information provided.

26 An Interview With Nena Sanchez: It’s Never Too Late to Start Something New 28 New Strides in the Region 30 Making Money with Technology

van munster m e d i a

g r o u p

32 Wastewater: Definitely Not a Waste of Time van munster 34 Curaçao Chamber of Commerce Highlights m e d i a

g r o u p

36 Ready for the Smart Revolution? - A Case for Economic and Fiscal Preparedness 38 Trends in Human Resources: How the Recruitment Game is Played 40 The Chamber’s Export Platform: Curaçao Business Point


Recently, The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (KVK), presented Maduro & Curiel’s Bank, (MCB), with a painting of Breedestraat, Punda by Marianne Cats.

Organizing Growth: “The momentum to think about re-organizing industrial policy must start now.”


Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath shared the breaking news that Curaçao is now fully compliant with international fiduciary standards.


The Curaçao Business Point was offcially launched on June 2nd, 2016. The website serves as a business platform for local business owners wanting to reach out to potential global markets for export opportunities.

Beaming with pride, the team at Aqualectra was pleased to announce that the highly esteemed Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, LLC, has awarded the company an ‘A-‘ financial rating.



In Curaçao, there is scarcely anyone who has not heard of Nena Sanchez. She has become a household name synonymous with bright colors, joy, happiness, and all that is Curaçao. And those who know her personally can testify that that is exactly who Nena is.



We are on the verge of the next level of the “Smart Revolution”. How will this create new opportunities for us here in Curaçao and what challenges can we expect to see ahead? Emauro Scoop, MSc, elaborated on this topic during a lecture held recently in the auditorium of the UoC.

With all of the benefits that this new concession brings to the ports of Curaçao, CPA is looking forward to a new era of cooperation between the Port Authority, (CPA), stevedoring company, (CPS), transport companies and shipping agents.


Organizing Growth

The Initiation of a National Dialogue The global economy is an ever shifting, ever changing ‘organism’. Always changing its form and reinventing itself, it derives its power from a constantly changing source. On a smaller scale, the same can be said of Curaçao’s economy. Different factors cause the local economy to take on a different form, and the local economy needs to be constantly reinventing itself to keep abreast of global developments. TEXT HELEN GRIFFITH

I sat down with Rinke Karman, an economist at the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce, to discuss how and why the economy changes, and the importance of collectively working towards an organized conduit of growth. Rinke first elaborates on the unique nature of the Curaçao economy by stating that, “In the long run, the economy of Curaçao can only survive by diversifying its exports.” The dynamics of the global economy cause certain sectors to become inefficient and obsolete. If a country becomes relatively expensive, adaption takes places by means of devaluation of the currency. On a long-term basis, this determines the pattern of diversification of exports of the country. In our case, Curaçao



has a fixed currency rate, whereby the guilder is tied to the U.S. dollar, therefore adaptation by devaluation is not an option. So when Curaçao’s export becomes expensive relative to foreign competitors, an important mechanism to protect against loosing production and employment while simultaneously attracting investors is to adapt by lowering wage costs. As wages adapt slowly there emerges an alternative option of stimulating diversification and innovation in the economy, especially in exporting industries.

Initiative for National Dialogue In response to these fluctuations in the local economy, a group of representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Labor

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Unions and the Chamber of Commerce (representing local business owners and employers) focused on this alternative fully recognizing that Government must play an important role in this strategy in order for it to be successful. This important initiative took place during 2015, whereby a policy of economic advice was drafted with the intention to initiate a national dialogue on collectively organizing economic growth for the Curaçao economy. To understand the momentum for this initiative one must look back to 2013 and 2014, when there was a considerable shift in the consumption patterns of private households due to a change in government spending on healthcare. With the implementation of the new S.V.B. (Basis Ziektekosten Verzekering) program, which incurred a higher cost to households, there was a resulting decline in expenditure on other consumer goods. As a result, demand for other consumption items and services decreased due to this increase in healthcare costs. The need therefore arose for a change in economic policy in order to ease the economic shock, in an effort to shift the economic development to a different phase. It was the intention of the government to simultaneously introduce budgetary discipline within the government and increase public investment, (specifically the new hospital), and to stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending by the beginning of 2015. This was envisioned in order to instill a feeling of trust in the government amongst investors and to trigger additional private investment to boost the economy on a sustained higher level.

government to end its involvement in investment projects that fail. Although this demands a certain level of financial control, failures cannot always be avoided, and these are precisely the opportunities for us to learn from our mistakes. Karman commented that the key to entire initiative’s success is that the characteristics of the plan need to be organic. He advised, “Start small, build and learn from your experiences, and that is what builds trust.”

The Chamber however, foresaw a risk that this policy wasn’t enough to stimulate neither local nor foreign investment. There still remained two major obstacles that would discourage investors. The first is the inflexible labor market on the island with well-protected labor contracts and very influential labor unions. This constraint to economic growth has been diagnosed more than once in the last twenty to thirty years and seems hard to solve in the medium term. Thus, the reality is that, Curaçao, with the guilder tied to the US dollar, lacks the most important mechanism to adapt to international economic development. The second obstacle is the role of government when bottlenecks arise for private investors. The idea that was proposed during the national dialogue was to modernize economic policy and to implement an effective industrial policy.

Industrial Policy The group initiative also advised an industrial policy that was targeted towards two largely separate groups of economic activities. Firstly, the policy should be aimed at the improvement of performance in existing industries. This is done by solving binding constraints through the assessment of specific problems within investment projects - not necessarily in pre-targeted industries - and working towards specific solutions. This would involve a gradual improvement of the capacities of industries with a relatively small amount of support from the government to qualifying investors, and would incur a small risk to government. The intention was to execute this policy on a caseby-case basis.

meet international standards. It goes without saying that the government must do its due diligence and conduct all necessary cost analyses in order to make a rational decision on whether or not to invest in any such venture. And as such, the institutional capacity to perform due diligence must be in place. The organization of the above industrial policy should be based on a set of principles, which should serve to build trust. To achieve this objective, private-public strategic partnerships should be the central focus of the policy. Equally important, is the transparency of the process and accessibility for all investors. At the same time, government should prioritize their efforts in order to select those private investments that deliver productivity gains in order to avoid subsidizing non-sustainable economic activity. Furthermore, government should limit its financial risk through the use of ‘sunset clauses’, whereby agreements always contain an exit strategy clause for the

The collective proposal put forth in 2015 was merely intended to trigger discussion on the need for diversification and how to organize it. Curaçao’s lack of diversification will only serve to stagnate growth and economic development. It is vital to the survival of the local economy that we as a people, adopt a mindset of diversification in order to keep up with the rapidly changing world economy. With new innovations taking place at breakneck speed, we constantly need to be reinventing ourselves in order to survive. Karman notes that many administrative jobs, especially in banks and financial institutions, will become obsolete in the next 10-15 years due to robotizing. Retail jobs also face great risk with the onslaught of online purchases. This accounts for the jobs of a very large sector of the local population. However through diversification, opportunities in technology can be the architects for re-invention in many of the existing sectors. In anticipation of this inevitable change, Curaçao must find ways to reinvent its economic drivers. And the best way to encourage new ideas on how to accomplish this is to encourage foreign investment. But in order to encourage foreign business owners to the Curaçao market, we need to incubate an attractive investment environment. Karman sums it up perfectly by saying, “The momentum to think about re-organizing industrial policy must start now.”

The second aspect of this policy was a more ambitious instrument targeted at new exporting industries. These ‘strategic investment bets’ might involve substantial financial risk and subsequent coordination of complementary public and private investments in government services, in order to


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10th CRCA Conference Brings Compliance Officers Together at a Vital Moment in the Industry

A NEW Normal: Curaçao is Ruled ‘Fully Compliant’ Curaçao could not have hoped for a better start at the 10th annual Caribbean Regional Compliance Association, (CRCA), Conference, entitled ‘Chaos - the New Normal’. Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath shared the breaking news that Curaçao is now fully compliant with international fiduciary standards. The CRCA conference covered topics related to financial crime and money laundering, and was a huge success, not only in terms of the large attendance and value for its participants, but also because of the momentous strides that Curaçao has made towards full compliance. TEXT FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI

Curaçao Stamped with Seal of Compliance Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath, announced the news on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Jose Jardim, who was unable to make it in time for the conference as he was still in Turks and Caicos, attending the CFATF (Caribbean Financial Action Task Force) plenary at which this Curaçao



Compliance ruling was passed. Rhuggenaath graciously announced, “I am honored to share the good news, that it was decided in this year’s plenary that Curaçao is no longer subject to periodic reviews by the CFATF, as all shortcomings in our Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing legislation and policy framework have been successfully addressed and as of

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now Curaçao is fully compliant with international standards. Congratulations Minister Jardim and Congratulations Curaçao!” Much like obtaining a seal of approval, Curaçao had to undergo a series of four evaluations after having taken measures to: strengthen its legal and regulatory anti-money laundering and

financing of terrorism framework; adopt a new Penal Code and implement various National Ordinances and Ministerial Decrees. Processes, procedures, provisions and guidelines have also been incorporated in the regulatory framework. During the CFATF Plenary meeting that was taking place at the same time as the CRCA conference, Curaçao was successfully approved by the task force and is now officially rated as fully compliant. This strengthens our competitive position on the financial markets, sends out the right signal about our level of commitment and ethics, and opens more doors to foreign investment. Ulrich de la Paz, Conference Chairman and Chairman of the local compliance officers association, ACCUR, said, “Small countries often have to make a bigger and bolder effort to meet compliance standards that are set by large countries that define the field. To meet these standards sometimes we have to stretch far beyond our limitations. Curaçao has been reviewed and removed from the list of non-compliant countries. To say we are proud is an understatement.” Curaçao has positioned itself firmly as a reputable player in the New Normal of compliance.

Compliance’s New Normal The worldwide shift towards higher standards of compliance has been changing the global scene of financial business. The repercussions of FATCA* regulations, for example, are impacting clients, banks and other financial institutions worldwide. Financial institutions are forced to approach and handle client accounts and the responsibilities that come with these dealings in a different way. Rhuggenaath drew attention to the fact that compliance is not only relevant for the financial services sector, it is also an economic issue, saying that, “Curaçao’s economy, as confirmed by the most recent IMF Article IV Consultation Review, urgently needs more foreign direct investments, an increase in business and more international trading partners. Other countries, business partners, investors, overseas clients, they all want to do business with and in countries that are compliant. In fact, international organizations like the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development, (OECD), are increasingly critical of countries that are non-compliant. Consequently, the ‘New Normal’ is that countries that are known for money-laundering… countries that do not have robust tax laws… countries that are known for trade in counterfeit goods… countries that do not have proper law enforcement, will no longer be considered for business and run the risk of going ‘out of business’.”

A Larger CRCA Conference Turnout The CRCA Conference brought together compliance practitioners and an impressive list of experts in their field who covered a wide array of topics to broaden the knowledge base and bring valuable insights. It created a platform on which to share best practices and concerns that Caribbean compliance officers face. The good news for Curaçao may have made for an eventful start of the conference, however the tone for a successful conference was set well in advance. The intention to hold the conference in Curaçao was set in 2012, when De La Paz joined the CRCA committee. Achieving this goal in 2016, the same year that ACCUR celebrates its 10th anniversary is a crowning moment. De la Paz focused on attracting more participants to the conference, which is usually attended by an average of 150 delegates. This year’s conference was sold out and there was a waiting list in case any of the approximately 260 delegates would relinquish their seat in the beautiful ballroom of the Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort. He notes, “I focused on raising attendance. I know we have great potential here, so getting people here to learn more about us was important. Most conferences are held in the north and it was time to showcase the Southern Caribbean and our hidden treasures. I knew we could do it, and

I’m proud that we did it.” The extra marketing efforts and the lure of the spectacular venue aside, the bigger turnout is also attributable to the recent developments in the compliance sector that make it imperative to stay abreast in the compliance working field. There is a shift in the way compliance is approached worldwide, and many are looking to find their way in this rapidly evolving arena. Hence the conference title: Chaos is the New Normal. Ulrich de la Paz, Chairman of ACCUR adds, “What makes this conference so unique is that the focus of the topics is based on the headaches and challenges we are facing in the Caribbean. Small countries have to make a bigger, bolder effort to meet compliance standards of large countries that define the field.” *FATCA: The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, (FATCA), is a 2010 United States federal law that serves to enforce the requirement for United States persons, including those living outside the U.S., to file yearly reports on their nonU.S. financial accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, (FINCEN). The law requires all non-U.S. (foreign) financial institutions (FFIs) to search their records for U.S. person-status and to report the assets and identities of such persons to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Source: Wikipedia


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CPA and CPS Off to a New Start After many years of negotiations, Curaçao Ports Authority, (CPA), and Curaçao Port Services, (CPS), have finally arrived at an agreement with regards to the long-standing monopoly held by CPS, over the island’s port containerization and stevedoring services. In September 2016, Minister of Economic Development, Eugene Ruggenaath, CPA Chief Executive Officer, Humberto de Castro and Fernando da Costa Gomes of CPS, signed a new port concession, which eliminates the exclusive rights previously held by CPS over all port services. TEXT HELEN GRIFFITH

Just a few years after the establishment of CPA in 1981, an agreement was signed granting CPS the exclusive right to carry out all stevedoring services in the ports, and the handling of all containers and goods at the Container Terminal. Originally, CPA acted as a Tool Port and was responsible for the fixed port infrastructure including the quay walls, all harbor wharfs and the gantry cranes. CPS, on the other hand,



was responsible for the operations of the port services and port buildings. This original agreement was to be automatically renewed every 10yrs, essentially granting CPS a permanent monopoly over the ports. Several key stakeholders, including parliament, saw the need to revise this concession as quickly as possible in order to allow themselves

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the option to attract new container terminal operators to serve the transshipment market and to facilitate further economic growth. After much negotiation between the parties concerned, CPA and CPS arrived at an accord, overseen by Minister Eugene Ruggenaath, that provides a number of key benefits to the harbor. This agreement eliminates the exclusive rights that CPS holds over the ports for the next 20 years and opens up the market to newcomers in the industry. It also clears the way for the development of container transshipment or bulk transshipment in Bullenbaai. Due to the size of the harbor at the Annabaai, transshipment would not be possible because of the size of the larger vessels and the depth of the harbor. Bullenbaai is seen as an attractive alternative. Extensive feasibility studies have been conducted and the conclusion is that the development of Bullenbaai as a transshipment port could be a viable project with the consideration of 3 major factors. Firstly, the total investment required for the entire project would amount to 400-500 million dollars. The development of this port would require a huge investment, not just in port facilities at Bullenbaai, but also in infrastructure in the surrounding lands to facilitate easy access to the port. Secondly, a complete market assessment would be con-

ducted to analyze exactly what potential markets could be served. In many instances it would not be beneficial for shipping companies to make an additional transshipment stop, with a resulting increase in price, when their ultimate destination is already within the region. Thirdly, the port’s ability to offer competitive pricing for their services must be taken into consideration, while taking into account the overhead costs of infrastructure. Neighboring countries with competitive ports can change their price structure almost overnight, rendering the Bullenbaai port unprofitable. The conclusion of the study was that even though this is a very volatile investment to make, there is a scenario in which it is feasible, and therefore it would present itself as an attractive venture for a large shipping line or container terminal operator to invest. It is considered too high a risk for CPA alone to build the entire infrastructure, but it is seen as a more viable solution to set up the conditions that would make it attractive for foreign shipping companies to invest. As a result it is not foreseeable in the near future, but any future plans for the development of Bullenbaai should take these potential plans into consideration. So in actuality, it seems unlikely that CPS will run any major risk of loosing its market share in the harbor in the near future. In addition, the concession also requires CPS to replace the existing gantry cranes. The cranes must be replaced within the next 2 years at a cost of 30 million dollars, and the surrounding infrastructure must also undergo major repairs to the tune of 20 million. Both the installation and renovation will be monitored and approved by CPA.

share in what is already a very small market. If the purchasing of 2 cranes and repairing of the wharfs alone costs 50 million, one can only imagine what the investment would be for an entirely new establishment of port containerization services. Another key benefit that the concession brings to the harbor is that CPS is also now required to meet a certain level of transparency in its operations. CPA will now have access to information on a variety of Key Performance Indicators, (KPI’s), which will serve as crucial to the assessment of all functions performed by CPS, and subsequent analysis on ways in which they can improve the efficiency of its operations and levels of customer service. CPA acknowledges that at times, there may be a lack of sufficient chassis at the port to properly serve the number of customers and their incoming containers in a timely manner. Both CPA and CPS have agreed to work on a solution with the merchants on this issue. However it must also be noted that at times the lack of chassis is used as a scapegoat in order to dismiss other operational problems both within CPA and CPS, and with external shipping agents. There have also been many instances of customer complaints of CPS not delivering their containers on time, when in reality the customer has unrealistic expectations of the time it takes to process the container. Customers do not have sufficient access to information regarding the status of their shipment, and the paperwork required to process it. As a result, when an official complaint is lodged, it serves to discredit the

reputation of the ports, when in some cases they are not at fault. While there are always areas in customer service that need improvement, Mr. de Castro is of the opinion that the service levels at CPS are not as bad as is publicly perceived. However he notes, “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. There is a perception that they provide bad service, so we need to be more transparent [to the public] to make it easy for customers to know the status of their containers [at any given time].” By providing the customer with readily available and up-to-date online information on the status of their containers, it is hoped that ideally the more informed a customer is, the less likely he or she will lodge an ill-informed complaint. Mr. de Castro also keenly stresses the importance of the identification and analysis of the KPI’s, and is confident that this will serve to accurately identify areas within the operations of the entire stevedoring chain, and thereby improve the customer service levels of all parties. There is a commitment from both parties to focus on those KPI’s that will result in a true turnaround in the efficiency of operations. Their ultimate goal is to promote the ports of Curaçao as an attractive package for foreign investment with benchmarks of excellent customer service. With all of the benefits that this new concession brings to the ports of Curaçao, CPA is looking forward to a new era of cooperation between the Port Authority, (CPA), stevedoring company, (CPS), transport companies and shipping agents.

CPA’s, Humberto de Castro notes, “The cranes are nearing the end of their lifespan and are not in proper working order. There have been instances in 2015 and 2016 where vessels have had to divert in order to drop their containers in Aruba because of the cranes being out of order.” Over the course of 2016, CPA has made a significant investment in repairing the cranes so that they are sufficiently functioning in order to bridge the 2-year period in which CPS is required to purchase new ones. One might ask, how does CPS benefit from this new concession with the task of having to make such a huge investment in the cranes, while no longer retaining their monopoly? But in reality it is very difficult for a newcomer to make a huge investment in the construction and installation of new containerization facilities in the port, while having to compete with CPS for a market


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Damen was participating in negotiations and close to an agreement, but just when negotiations were taking a positive turn, a new Government Minister was installed - with differing views than his predecessor. The new leadership opted for a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach, believing that the dry-dock company could and should work its way out of the trenches without the assistance of any foreign investments. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out as planned. The company sank into further debt, and the much-needed investments were hard to come by. Despite its precarious situation, Caldera accepted the challenge and joined the CDC staff in 2012 as the Facility Manager, and became the Interim Managing Director of CDM Holding, NV. in January 2014. After a challenging start, which included the restructuring and upgrading of many internal processes, he then looked towards a complete company-wide turnaround.

Caldera Targets Newcomers

As Damen Gears Up for Growth After years of futile efforts to work out a deal for financing through local banks, the Curaçao Drydock Company, (CDC), has recently signed an agreement with Damen Shipyard Group to take over all its operational activities. TEXT FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI

Getmar Caldera, Managing Director of CDC is now smiling as he takes calls from numerous seriously interested parties eager to establish their services on the premises. “Finally we have the opportunity to turn the CDC into the leading company we always knew it had the potential to be,” notes Caldera. The change in Caldera’s outlook is mostly attributable to the signing of the agreement on September 9th with Damen Shipyard Group - which re-opens doors everywhere. Soon Damen flags will be waving in our historic dry-dock with a newly established company called, Damen Shiprepair Curaçao, that will take over the operational activities of the CDC for the next 20 years with the possibility to extend it a further 5 years.

A Revitalized Champion The concession agreement between Damen and CDC introduces a floating dock that is projected to bring an additional 30% capacity,



and also injects US$40 million in infrastructure and training facilities for personnel. Damen Shiprepair Curaçao will become part of the Damen Shiprepair & Conversion Group which currently operates 40 dry docks in 15 shipyards around the world. Like a proud father, Caldera is extremely satisfied to see that the company, which had struggled for a long time despite its overwhelming potential to become a champion in the industry, will now finally do its people, the island and our unique harbor justice. The facilities of CDC currently include 2 graven docks and approximately 2000m of repair quays outfitted with 13 cranes. Damen will install a third dock, thereby considerably increasing its capacity. The CDC has been looking for avenues to invest and expand for a long while now. This strategic partnership brings an end to the struggles, attracts fresh capital, new business spinoffs and is set to restore the docks to their ‘champion’ status. In 2009 the CDC was already in dire straits.

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His efforts were soon met with reward, such that by his first year in the company as Facility Manager, the company was breaking even. At this juncture, Caldera together with the turn-around team lead by Mr. Henry Neoman, approached the local banks for financing in order to invest in the necessary measures for growth, however they were turned down by all the banks. The significant debt of the company and previously volatile scenarios were making it hard for CDC to get a loan. Some were only willing to finance his plans if the government would guarantee the loan sum, and the government was not willing to do so. Believing in the potential of the company, Caldera went back to the drawing board, despite rumblings within the local community of closing the dry-dock.

Impact Study At that point a Multi-Disciplinary Project Team, (MDPT), was formed to find ways to overcome the struggles of the company. A key component of the efforts made by this team, was an Economic Impact Study conducted by Maxwell Silver to assess the economic contribution of the CDC on the local economy of Curaçao. The study analyzed the potential of Curaçao’s dry-dock and provided valuable insight into these 3 main scenario’s: • What would be the impact of removing the dry-dock from Curaçao’s economic structure? • How would things look if everything stayed the same? • How would things look with a major investor on board?

By clearly defining what was virtually obvious, this study ended the insistent rumblings in the community saying that closing the company

was the best solution. The economic impact on Curaçao’s economy, in terms of employment, contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, (GDP), foreign exchange reserves and tax revenues, was undeniable. The study also served to illustrate the amazing opportunity for growth given the right investor coming to the table and along came Damen again. The MDPT has done an incredible job in solving the immense problems that had to be overcome to realize this deal with Damen. Thanks also to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Eugene Rhuggenaath, and the full cooperation of the Curaçao Government.

Game Changer “It’s funny how things work out over time. At first I wasn’t very keen on the idea of Damen at all. In the past I’d heard of their plans to use our facilities as a service point for their ships in the area. I really didn’t see our strength [being utilized] there. Our team has a reputation for creating amazing, even miraculous, steel work solutions. We are a strong and forceful company, and to me this sounded like taking a bull and making it work like a sheep. I had other plans for CDC. I had my own vision laid down in a plan that was again turned down by the banks and I was frustrated by our inability to get any commitment. But I was sold as soon as Damen presented their plans this time around. Their vision included the same 3 key pillars that our plan was also based upon: putting our people first, focusing on growth and capitalizing on our strengths. It was then that I knew that we had found our investor. Immediately, doors started opening. Maduro & Curiël’s Bank granted financial backing without any guarantee from the government, and a number of companies overseas are ready to establish themselves here on our premises, next to Damen, to further increase our range of services offered,” Caldera notes with a smile on his face that is heartwarming.

specific types of motor repairs, specific cruise ship repairs, etc. This will no doubt serve to boost Curaçao’s economy by offering employment and other commercial opportunities.

agreements set forth in the contract, is moving swiftly while government officials are feverishly working to finish the paperwork needed for the closing in December.

Things are Moving, Curaçao

Caldera sees a brilliant future for CDC, Damen and the dry-docks. “Our dry-dock operations have such huge potential. The addition of Damen has all the ingredients to fully utilize and grow that potential. The next years will bring a new impetus to our harbor and the spinoffs will supersede expectations. The projections of Damen are very positive, but I believe they are still too conservative. I am confident that we will top them by more than 50% to 100% in the first 5 years,” predicts Caldera. Seeing the excitement and fulfillment unfold through Caldera’s eyes, one cannot help but feel grateful for all who have worked to make this a reality for both the drydock and for Curaçao.

Several Damen officials have already been dispatched to Curaçao to start preparing more definitively for the work that needs to be done and for the restructuring of the dock company following the finalization of the contract. The Director, Production Manager and Commercial Manager are conducting preparations while awaiting formal closing, and are already offering advice and help when needed. There’s also an engineer here as Damen is currently contemplating plans to refurbish and expand the current office building, or build a new building, in which all departments can fit together under one roof. The cooperation between entities to fulfill the

What’s Next for CDC? With everything finally moving in the right direction now that Damen is taking over operations of CDC, NV: all CDC personnel are being transitioned over; and the government is granting Damen and the CDC full eZone status, (3.5% tax), Caldera can now shift focus towards utilizing the lands of the peninsula that the dry-dock is currently occupying. The deal with Damen involves lease holding 70% of the land from CDC - which leaves 30% for CDC to develop for new business and other types of affiliated products and services. This is a much-coveted 30%, with many companies showing keen interest in establishing themselves here and offering such services as: supplying ship interiors, providing


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S&P Awards Aqualectra with an ‘A-‘ Financial Rating Beaming with pride, the team at Aqualectra was pleased to announce that the highly esteemed Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, LLC, has awarded the company an ‘A-‘ financial rating. As the first utility company in the Caribbean to be awarded a Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating, this has undoubtedly proven to be an enormous achievement, not only for the company, but for Curaçao as well, which also holds an S&P rating of ‘A-’. TEXT HELEN GRIFFITH

This rating places the company in a stronger position to be able to finance future projects, not only for the growth of the company, but also for the overall development of the local economy. Standard and Poor’s Financial Services, LLC, (S&P), a division of S&P Global, is known for it’s stock market indices, as well as it’s internationally renowned credit ratings on public



and private companies, as well as government entities. It is considered one of the three big credit rating agencies of the world. Aqualectra has worked very hard in recent years to improve, not only the efficiency of its production and operations, but also its customer service and financial stewardship, in order to raise the company out of debt into a level of financial stability. Given the financial

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and operational status of the company just a few years back, S&P’s ‘A-‘ credit rating is an even greater testimony to the hard work and due diligence of the team members of Aqualectra. And indeed, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

A Pivotal Moment During the period of 2010 to 2012, Aqualectra was suddenly faced with severe financial distress due to large material losses at the time as a result of an abrupt tariff reduction. The company was indeed unprepared for this sudden downturn and had no pre-established safety net. The management team was forced to develop a turnaround plan to help the company overcome its financial hurdles. This plan consisted of the development of a number of different projects and financial strategies, the major ones being:

• A new diesel power plant at Dokweg II, ultimately commissioned in 2015. This would serve to transition production from steam to diesel thereby creating less of an impact on the environment, using less manpower and requiring significantly less fuel. This new process would serve to increase the efficiency of their operations while simultaneously stabilizing the power supply to better suit the demands of their customers. This new power plant would also enable Aqualectra to cease their contract with Aggreko, thereby no longer having to lease their generators. •T ransitioning the desalination of their water supply from evaporation to reverse osmosis. Both the Santa Barbara and Mundo Nobo reverse osmosis facilities have been expanded. This has proven to be a far more energy efficient process thereby reducing production costs. • I ntroducing solar energy and increasing wind energy production. This goes without saying that it will serve to reduce the impact on the environment as well as fuel costs. •E liminate the backlog of maintenance requirements at the power plants. Often the lack of maintenance would incur a significant cost due to inefficiency in the energy production process. •U pdating and replacing several major water supply lines, and the upgrading of the overall monitoring system. This would serve to decrease the number of incidents of leakage.

S&P’s belief that “there is an ‘almost certain’ likelihood that the government of Curaçao would provide Aqualectra with timely and sufficient extraordinary support in the case of financial distress,” as noted in the S&P report. Additionally, it was noted that, “the issuer’s ‘bb-‘ stand-alone credit profile (SACP) reflects Curaçao’s short regulatory framework track record and Aqualectra’s relatively high leverage.” This was the first time that a utility company in the Caribbean has submitted to S&P. The rating serves as a benchmark against other

international companies and also serves as an internal protection tool, acting as a foundation point from which to start further financial analysis. Because of the international recognition of such a highly esteemed institution as S&P, the ‘A-‘ rating now puts Aqualectra in a unique position to negotiate contracts for the financing of future projects.

What the Future Holds in Store With a stable outlook for the next few years, the company has ambitious plans for the future, with several projects already in the pipeline. • From 2012 to present, Aqualectra has suc-

•D ecreasing operational and internal expenses resulting in sound financial management. Transitioning from a cash management status to a budget management status, with a full fuel pass through to the client. With a cohesive management team effort in conjunction with capital injection support from the Minister of Finance, José Jardim, Aqualectra successfully implemented this turnaround plan. As a result, the company was able to generate a profit by 2014 and 2015, with all likely probability that the trend will continue for 2016 and the coming years. It is important to note that the S&P rating is based on current and past performance, as well as a 5-year outlook, and takes into account the financial security of the company for that time period. An important factor that helped the company to earn the A- rating was


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cessfully decreased their tariffs by 16%. Because of a greater level of efficiency in their production, they project that they will be able to continue with these lower tariffs in the coming years. • As of mid-2016, the implementation of a new back office system ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is already underway, with the installation of SAP software companywide. This new software will serve to increase the efficiency and accuracy of all billing, administrative and service functions. • Also planned for 2017, is the installation of an advanced metering system that serves to improve the structuring of both the water and electricity supply, and enables the company to rebalance the grid, maintain accuracy of billing and reduce water leakages and malfunctions.



• A planned merger of both the production and distribution companies is also in the works and will allow Aqualectra to simplify their internal structure. • The wind park at Tera Kora will be expanded, and its commissioning is planned in 2017, enabling the company to reduce their emissions and make further strides in their efforts to make Curaçao greener. • 2017 will be the year in which Aqualectra breaks ground for construction of the new headquarters building at New Haven. The new location is more centralized and brings operations and administration closer together. The current properties at Otrobanda and Mundo Nobo will be sold and made available for tourism projects that will bring a direct economic benefit to the island.

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Lessons Learned Aqualectra has certainly come a long way to re-gain its position of financial stability that it held in the past. The calculated planning and diligent execution of its strategies to improve efficiency and bring its production and administration up to the 21st century, has paid off. While the company does not foresee any major financial or political stumbling blocks in the near future, it remains guarded and has sufficiently protected itself by means of this new S&P rating, which serves as a financial measurement gauge from which it can establish its position in the future. Aqualectra survived a harsh wake up call in the past few years, but has learned from its experience and has grown into a stronger, leaner company that is now better equipped to take on whatever challenges may lay ahead in the future.

NEWSBRIEF CURAÇAO, MOST WELCOMING ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN TO LGBT COMMUNITY The Francisco Chronicle ranked Curaçao in the top 10 most gay-friendly tourist destinations worldwide. Other destinations on the top 10 list are Stockholm, Las Vegas, Toronto and the Ca-

nary Islands. The relaxed ambiance and diverse culture have helped Curaçao to become popular in the LGBT community. For more than 10 years already, Curaçao has become a pioneer in this area

in some regards, according to officials of the Curaçao Tourism Bureau. Curaçao was the first Caribbean destination to become affiliated, with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.

Come and visit our upgraded location at

Tel. +5999 747-2233 E-mail. CURAÇAO BUSINESS

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Effectively in Control:

The Answer for Reduced Completeness and Accuracy Checks During Tax Audits Warren Buffett once said that risk comes from not knowing what you are doing. We believe that this quote can also be applied to the current business environment, wherein Tax Assurance is the method by which a company can assess its tax risks, manage them, as well as mitigate these risks to an acceptable level (Tax Risk Management). Furthermore, the presence, monitoring and testing of the tax internal control framework, including the accounting organization and the measures of internal control (hereinafter: AO/IC) are globally being presumed as an indispensable part of the tax risk assessment performed by the tax auditor. AUTHORS JEANISE JOB, MEIJBURG & CO. CARIBBEAN AND JEANNITZA FELIX, MEIJBURG & CO. CARIBBEAN

Tax Assurance is not only assurance on the tax position in the financial statements, but concerns everything related to the process of tax aspects in a company, such as Tax Risk Management, AO/IC, management control, corporate governance, tax policy, relationship with the tax authorities, etc.. In this article we will elaborate on how Tax Assurance, specifically



Tax Risk Management and an effectively working AO/IC, including internal monitoring activities can lead to a reduction of the completeness, respectively the accuracy checks during a tax audit. If the aforementioned is present and is working effectively, the tax auditor may take the work performed by the external auditor into consideration, and solely review and discuss

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their dossiers, since both the external auditor and the tax auditor rely on the same information related to the company’s AO/IC.

Tax audit The tax audit is the process in which the tax auditor checks and accesses the audit object on a basis of criteria, and forms an opinion that

provides the taxpayer with a certain degree of assurance. Moreover, the tax audit is required to be effective and efficient and therefore the tax auditor needs to gather sufficient audit evidence to achieve reasonable assurance, which is necessary to complete the tax audit assignment. On the other hand, Tax Assurance enables the company’s management to obtain assurance regarding the concerned tax events or tax processes in an earlier stadium. Before a tax audit, the company would be aware of the tax implications of certain transactions and can implement internal control measures to mitigate these consequences to an acceptable level. Should the company have implemented an appropriate, well-designed and effectively working internal control framework, the tax auditor would shift to a review-based tax audit approach, which is based on a risk analysis and consists of an analysis of the AO/IC (reduction of the completeness and accuracy checks).

Tax Risk Management All decisions, business operations and activities that a company undertakes give rise to numerous uncertainties. These uncertainties are considered as the business risks and some of these risks will be tax related. The tax uncertainties can be a result of – amongst others – the application of tax law and the tax implications of certain facts or uncertainties within the company. Taking the aforementioned into account, it can be concluded that tax risk management is about managing tax related uncertainties, understanding where tax risks may arise and making conscious decisions on how to deal with these tax risks. Tax risk management is not only about minimalizing the tax risks but also about setting an internal control framework and scale for the company’s risk appetite.

When the company has implemented tax risk management, it has a set of risk response and internal control activities in place. The degree to which the company should implement risk-mitigating actions depends on the likelihood and the impact of the assessed tax risk in relation to the company’s risk appetite. The company should determine which risks are acceptable, which risk causing activities should be discontinued, and which should be transferred to third parties i.e. insurance companies. Additionally, risk control measures (AO/IC including internal monitoring activities), should be implemented and continuously submitted to testing and monitoring. In addition, the company could seek a Tax Assurance Report, in which its current and future tax risks and the effectiveness of the implemented AO/IC and are assessed and

tested, including an overall opinion about the company’s internal (tax) control framework. Additionally, the Tax Assurance Report could contain information regarding internal control measures to mitigate the risks and measures for monitoring and testing the effectiveness of the tax function continuously.

Reduction of completeness and accuracy checks The second phase of the tax audit is the preliminary risk analysis, which includes the completeness checks respectively the accuracy checks. Prior to the completeness checks the tax auditor determines the administrative context and analyses the design of the AO/IC. In this phase the tax auditor analyzes the critical processes related to the AO/IC, because of its impact on the tax return. In the following, the role of the positive advance information on reduction of the completeness and the accuracy checks will be discussed in detail. Positive advance information

An adequate and effectively working AO/ IC may, under certain circumstances, lead to reduced tax audit procedures. Therefore, the tax auditor would perform test of controls to assure the effectiveness of the tax related internal key controls, whereas monitoring is viewed as the most important part of a fully, well-designed and accordingly implemented internal control framework. Since monitoring activities are set up to ensure adequate and effective performance of the measures of internal control, the tax auditor would – in case duly functioning monitoring activities are in place – only review the performed monitoring activities instead of performing all the tests of controls himself, (i.e. a more review-based auditing approach). The


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aforementioned confirms that it is of utmost importance that entrepreneurs identify their tax risks and are aware of them, and moreover, that they are in control of their tax risks. Subsequently, the tax audit activities would include reconciliation checks and analysis of preliminary account adjustments, because of the possibility for the management to adjust the figures. Accordingly, he will perform a review of the monitoring activities, repeat a couple of the monitoring tests already performed and reduce the completeness checks to a minimum. Reduced completeness and accuracy checks

When the tax auditor determines that the internal controls work effectively and are sufficient to mitigate and manage tax risks, positive advance information could be deemed present. In such cases the tax auditor can choose to perform reduced completeness and accuracy checks. The tax audit would then be subject to the ‘dual purpose-test’ , which is a combination of compliance tests and substantive tests. The ‘dual purpose-test’ implies that the correctness and the administrative procedures regarding certain controls would be tested. However, if inaccuracies or mistakes are discovered during the reduced completeness and accuracy checks, the advance information would be deemed to be incorrect having the result that all controls have to be tested. It is common practice that tax auditors search for as much as possible positive advance information in order to reduce the extent of the completeness and accuracy checks. Well-functioning tax risk control measures are therefore of utmost importance since this is one of the main sources tax auditors reach to when trying to obtain positive advance information. Furthermore, positive advance information can also be obtained from the absence of specific inherent risks, the quality of the internal control measures and other controls performed by third parties.

uation the company would be subject to a comprehensive completeness and accuracy check. • If the tax auditor does not identify any inherent tax risks, the accuracy checks could be reduced by approximately 20%. In this regard please be informed that the tax auditor should be able to justify his statement/finding on the absence of inherent tax risks. • If the AO/IC is appropriate, well designed and implemented, and is expected to work effectively, the accuracy checks could be reduced by 75%. • If there are additional internal control measures present (such as internal monitoring activities), the accuracy checks could be reduced by 85%. This reduction is only applicable if 10 to 30 ‘dual purpose-tests’ are applied and no mistakes were identified during the process. • If there are additional external controls in place, a 100% reduction on the accuracy checks could be possible. In such cases the tax authorities mainly use file reviews.

Degree of reduction

The more the tax auditor can rely on the positive advance information regarding the tax control measures of a company, the less the degree of uncertainty will be. This could subsequently result in a reduction of the completeness and accuracy checks. The weight of the different types of positive advance information and the effects this would have on the degree of reduction are set out below: • If a specific inherent risk is identified but there are insufficient tax control measures in place, no reduction will be applicable. In such sit-



A reduction of the completeness and accuracy checks has advantages for both the tax authorities and the taxpayer. The tax authorities would be able to focus their resources on targeting the non-compliant or less compliant taxpayers whereas the compliant taxpayers have more certainty upfront and are less exposed to significant corrections after a tax audit.

Conclusion In general, the tax auditors access whether or not the taxable events and items are properly and fully accounted for. Furthermore, they are responsible for determining whether or not the

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interpretation of the legal facts in the concerned tax return is acceptable for tax purposes. This is generally done through a tax audit in which completeness and accuracy of the controls are tested extensively. A combination of tax risk management, an effective accounting organization and measures of internal control could lead to a reduction of the completeness respectively the accuracy checks during a tax audit. The degree of reduction in this respect is highly dependent on the degree of positive advance information available and the results of the ‘dual purpose-tests’. When a tax auditor can rely on the positive advance information regarding tax control measures of a company, he will perform less completeness and accuracy checks. Meijburg & Co Caribbean could perform a tax risk analysis for your company in which the current relevant tax risks are assessed, including a review of the effectiveness of the implemented AO/IC. In addition, we identify possible future tax risks and propose internal control measures to be implemented in order to duly mitigate these risks. Subsequently, we could design a control mix that can be implemented in your company to help continuously monitor and test the effectiveness of the tax functions, which enables you to be effectively in control of your tax risks and how these are dealt with. Such a Tax Assurance Report could serve as positive advance information and may lead to a reduction of the completeness and accuracy checks during a tax audit. This would provide you with more certainty upfront and less exposure to significant corrections during and after a tax audit.

Recognizing MCB’s Historic Centennial Recently, The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (KVK), presented Maduro & Curiel’s Bank, (MCB), with a painting of Breedestraat, Punda by Marianne Cats, in commemoration of their 100th Anniversary and in recognition of the valued work they have done for the Curaçao community, and in particular the island’s business community, since 1916.

Jonckheer, Vice Chairman Marcos Cova, and Board members Marco Cheis and Janet Hooi-Bonet.

The painting was presented to Lionel “Chicu” Capriles, President of MCB, and Micheal de Sola, Managing Director of MCB, by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of KVK, Billy

We congratulate MCB on this historic milestone.

During the presentation Mr. Jonckheer thanked Mr. Capriles on behalf of the Chamber, for the work that MCB has done in the past century for the Curaçao community and congratulated him on their Centennial Anniversary. Reaching a Centennial for any company or organization is an important accomplishment that few have achieved. MCB has played an important part in the evolution of Curaçao’s business community, and the island’s economy.


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Getting Things Done

The New Way of Being More Productive We all know the feeling of having enormous to do lists, exploding email boxes, and losing your focus and priorities in the chaos of running business. Daily troubles that block your creative wellbeing and give you headaches. TEXT TJARRIE WIJGA

But there’s a solution, called Getting Things Done, (GTD). GTD is the proven path for getting in control of your world, and maintaining perspective in your life. Much more than a set of tips for time management and organization, GTD is a total work-life management system that transforms ‘overwhelm’ into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. David Allen, inventor of the GTD methodology, is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity.

Mind Like Water Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. That’s why David Allen created Getting Things Done ®. After decades of field research and practice of his productivity methods, David wrote his international bestseller “Getting Things Done”. Now already published in more than 28 languages, TIME magazine called it “the defining self-help business book of its time.” In 2015 he released an updated version including new insights and its many professional and personal applications. The David Allen Company is a thriving global training and consulting company, active in more than 60 countries worldwide, specialized in the fields of organizational and personal productivity.

About the methodology The heartbeat of GTD is five simple steps that apply order to chaos and provide you space and structure to be more creative, strategic and focused.

Step 1: CAPTURE Collect what has your attention. Use tools to help you capture everything that has your attention by using an in-tray, notepad, digital list or voice recorder. Little, big, personal, and professional – all your to-do’s, projects, things to handle or finish.

Step 2: CLARIFY Process what it means. Take everything that you capture and ask: Is it actionable? If no, then trash it, incubate it or file it as a reference. If yes, decide the very next action required. If it will take less than two minutes, do it now. If not, delegate it if you can, or put it on a list to do when you can.

Step 3: ORGANIZE Put it where it belongs. Put action reminders on the right lists. For example create lists for the appropriate categories – calls to make, errands to run, emails to send, etc.

Step 4: REFLECT Review frequently. Look over your lists as often as necessary to trust your choices about what to do next. Do a weekly review to get clear, get current and get creative.

Step 5: ENGAGE Simply do. Use your system to take appropriate actions with confidence. Only 5 steps to GTD. Easy! You can buy the book and teach this method yourself, but for a profes-

sional and structured set-up it’s way better to contact an official Getting Things Done Partner.

5 golden rules to prevent you from becoming “overwhelmed”: • Do not be tempted to do the work of others: There is no greater trap than your loyalty. Nothing is easier than to take responsibility for a task that actually is for someone else. Remember that the problems of others are not necessarily your problems, even if they are your immediate colleagues. • Write a plan: Bring organization to what to do. Create a mind map or make a “crisis list” to inventory your tasks. Make a daily schedule and scratch off your to-do list as much as possible. By writing, you clear your head and create peace of mind. • Focus on the job: Think about what you’re doing instead of what you still need to do. The factors “time” and “worry” do not work well together. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. • Take baby steps: In addition to an excess of jobs you can get the feeling of being overwhelmed when you can’t see how to get through the work. Unpack a job that you need to do and describe in small steps how to achieve the desired result. You will see that the job is much less complicated than it seemed at first glance. • Reward yourself: A huge list of tasks and chores to finish is not easy, and staying motivated is difficult. Get used to celebrating the small victories. Treat yourself to a glass of wine or a special tea variety and enjoy the evening.

For more information about Getting Things Done, (GTD), contact Emeli Colen at BLACK Curaçao, Tel: +(599) 9 844 0060. Send an email to or visit



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Social Media Marketing:

Facebook Features – Targeting & Retargeting The demand for people with social media marketing skills has risen and is projected to continue growing at a fast clip, as more businesses move their marketing spending from traditional to targeted social media advertisements. TEXT CARLINDA VAN DER MAREL, SOCIAL LEMONS, B.V.

If you are familiar with Facebook advertising, you’ll know that it’s extensive and complicated. If you’ve ever been targeted by Facebook ads yourself, you’ll know it’s like someone is looking over your shoulder. And, if you have ever tried Facebook advertising for your company, you’ll know it’s cost effective and efficient. The thing is, Facebook advertising is based on finding the audiences that are most likely to become your fans or your customers, because the targeting options focus directly on users and profiling potential customers in order to get results.

As you can imagine, Facebook targeting is one of the most powerful features Facebook offers. It allows businesses to target specific audiences with parameters like: demographics, needs, habits, interests and much more. Segmentation of your target audience is of vital importance. You can easily focus your advertising to various combinations of target groups. However the real value in social media marketing is the ability to target an audience with specific interests and behaviors. By focusing on specific live events, you can capture your

customers at the perfect purchase point in the sales channel. Once you have been able to pinpoint your optimum target audience at the right moment, you’re ready for takeoff! Soon you’ll reap the rewards at a fraction of the traditional advertising costs. Some other useful features offered by Facebook include: Facebook’s ‘Custom Audiences’ which allows you to remarket your website audience. Let’s say that someone visits your website after clicking on a Facebook Ad, but doesn’t complete an action, such as subscribing for your services or making a purchase, Facebook has enabled a feature that allows you to capture that person’s attention again. Start exploring its marketing potential by installing the Facebook tracking pixel and see for yourself. Or what about Facebook’s ‘Look Alike Audiences’? Find people who are likely to be interested in your business, and are similar to your current fans. As you can see, there’s a lot going on in social media world but we promise you: with the investment of your time and a good read, you’ll be excited when you start reviewing your first results!


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An Interview With Nena Sanchez:

It’s Never Too Late to Start Something New In Curaçao, there is scarcely anyone who has not heard of Nena Sanchez. She has become a household name synonymous with bright colors, joy, happiness, and all that is Curaçao. And those who know her personally can testify that that is exactly who Nena is. She is a proud “Yu di Korsou”, a self-made artist, always full of ideas and new creations. But Nena is more than an artist. She is a great businesswoman who can “sell water to Eskimos”, as she will tell you herself with a great smile on her face. Her life story is a true inspiration of how it’s never too late to start something new, to create your own personal work of art… life. TEXT KORRA PIETERSZ-JULIANA, OASEAN VISION

Nena was born and raised in Curaçao. After enjoying a great youth on the island she spread her wings and embarked on her own adventure where she lived in Venezuela and the United States. After 25 years abroad, she returned back to Curaçao in 1994. She was again inspired by the beautiful bright colors of the Caribbean’s blue skies and turquoise waters. Wonderful little cottages adorned with vibrant tropical flowers, cacti, banana trees and palm trees, all served as living models for her paintings. The beauty and sunlight that she sees every day, became



her source of inspiration and have marked her love for the bright colors that are the base of a very personal creation and unique style which has become her trademark. Her paintings of Dutch Caribbean scenery with fascinating bright colors in a figurative style, have a joyful personality of their own and are a delight to the eyes. When you see Nena’s paintings, you would think that she has been painting her whole life. But that is not her story. Nena is a “late bloomer” as she calls herself, having started

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her career as an artist in her fifties. She has been publishing her own paintings since 1998 after she taught herself the skills of painting by experimenting with acrylics on different materials such as wood canvas and paper. Being the great businessperson that she was, she knew that selling only paintings would not be enough to grow her business. So she created Giclees (reproductions), a line of art cards, mini prints and posters, that are to this day collected by many. Today her paintings are found in private collections in Europe, Canada, North and South America, Asia and on the other Dutch Caribbean islands. We interviewed Nena to learn more about what drives her and makes her the successful artist and business woman that she is. KP: What was your life like when growing up?

NS: Absolutely marvelous. I had a very happy childhood and youth thanks to my wonderful parents. I was born on the beautiful island of Curaçao, the best place on earth to spend your childhood and youth. It is still a little paradise for people of all ages. I am a happy person and you can see it reflected in my artwork.

KP: You can indeed! How would you describe your journey into becoming the Nena Sanchez, successful artist and businesswoman we know today?

NS: A fascinating journey, the ride of my life. I started to paint first at home, I converted a guestroom into a small studio. It was more of a hobby as I never studied art. I taught myself to paint in that room. As a child I loved to paint but never imagined that painting was going to become such an important part of my life. After painting in that small studio for several years and realizing that people liked my paintings, I decided to open my first Nena Sanchez Gallery. I became the first local artist to have her own gallery. That was an exciting time and right away it became a success, but success does not come without sacrifice. For many years I painted 18 hours a day but as I was doing something that I loved to do, it was not a burden. I loved every minute of it and still do. KP: Every journey teaches us lessons. What were some of the biggest lessons that you learned so far and that still impact the way you do business?

NS: There are many lessons. But the 8 biggest lessons to me are: • Stay focused on what you want to achieve • Setup your goal and focus on that • Don’t listen to people that want to destroy your dream or business • Believe in yourself and listen to your inner voice • Work minimum 16 hours a day • Take small steps at a time to move forward • Save and invest in new ideas so you keep growing • But the number one lesson is save, save, and save more, so you can continue riding when times get difficult KP: Difficult times cannot be avoided. How do you conquer those moments of doubt that so often stifle entrepreneurs during tough times? What pushes you through?

NS: I am a very spiritual person. Without my spirituality I would have never made it so far. I do not start any project without consulting with my partner, and God is my partner. He pushes me through everything and is the best partner you can have. I highly recommend Him. I owe my success to Him for always guiding me in the right direction. KP: What is the best advice that you received that you still follow today?

NS: Before you start anything, first study the market of what you want to do. Make sure

you have enough money to survive for at least 2 years, in case the business doesn’t take off immediately. KP: How do you stay creative business wise?

NS: Staying creative business wise is no problem at all. I am a very creative person and I see opportunities all over. My problem now is my age. Whatever I want to do has to start immediately and that is sometimes difficult to achieve. KP: What are your non-work habits that help you with your work that you would recommend to others?

NS: I am always looking for new creative ideas to promote my art and my galleries. Even when I travel I am always visiting galleries to see what other people do in other countries. When you have your own business, your heart belongs to that business. The love you give to your business is what makes it successful. Love and the good care of people that work with you. Happy people make a happy business and happy clients. KP: Many companies abroad are focusing more on the wellbeing of their staff. They are using non-conventional ways like art to incorporate relaxation techniques in an effort to invest in workplace wellness. What’s your intake on that?

NS: There is a wonderful connection between art and workplace wellness. Out of every 10 people I talk to, 7 love art. Most of them would

love to learn how to paint and enjoy it too. People cannot imagine how relaxing painting can be. When I sit down to paint I forget everything. You are so involved in what you are doing that the hours go by so fast. So people with high-stress jobs can certainly benefit from art to calm their nerves and help them with getting rid of stress. It’s certainly better than stress medicine. I am autodidact, meaning that I taught myself to paint. And if I did it others can do it too. Everybody has talent. We are all creative, some more than others, but we are all born with creativity. You just have to dare to begin, by yourself or take a couple of classes. And if companies want to help their employees reduce their stress levels through art workshops, that’s even better! More companies here on the island should try it. It’s never too late to unleash your creativity and learn something new. I talk about painting because that is what I do. It’s something you can do on your own at home or in the garden, or you can also join a group. It’s ideal for any one with stress, or for people that are suffering from loneliness. It’s also a wonderful activity for those who are going to retire soon or are already retired and don’t know what to do with their free time. It’s something I recommend highly. You will notice a change immediately in your health and wellbeing. Just dare to begin. If I did it, so can you. Nena Sanchez -


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NEW STRIDES IN PANAMA: THE FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE Despite slower GDP growth of 6.2% in 2014, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance and LAFTA reports, Panama remains one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies. With its history of low inflation, this is a trend set to continue in the coming years with the IMF forecasting average annual growth of around 6.5% over the next five years. The main reasons for the increased GDP are: TOURISM - The Tourist Industry in Panama continues to show increases in the number of visitors and it is hoped that support for the increased investments (hotels, airline flights, marinas) continues to record a major expansion. EDUCATION – A shortage of skilled workers has been one of the most commonly voiced concerns of business professionals in Panama. With the skills

shortage having an impact on the labor market, authorities inaugurated recent developments in subjects offered in technical education, obtaining a Government commitment and thrust to reduce labor shortages. PANAMA CANAL – It is expected that the forecasted inauguration of the widening of the Panama Canal marks the beginning of important investment opportunities in real estate, light industries, industrial estates, warehousing and exports. SUSTAINABILITY – The prolonged joint forces of successive governments together with an agreement on a flat tax system of 10%, have helped position Panama as a stable global business destination and a global transport destination. Panama received a big boost in August 2016 with the added joint forces of public and private sector organizations.

DUTCH GIANT UNILEVER BREAKS GROUND FOR FACTORY IN CUBA Dutch consumer product giant, Unilever, is the largest foreign company to establish itself in Cuba. With the recent move to open up the Cuban economy to foreign investors, the government has created a special economic development zone at the Cuban port of Mariel that is intended to attract foreign investment. Unilever broke ground on a US$35 million joint venture with the Cuban government to produce

personal-care products such as shampoo, soaps and other products, for local use and for export. Unilever will hold a 60% ownership of their Cuban investment. The factory is expected to generate a much-needed 300 local jobs and will be managed by Unilever. Seven other foreign companies have initiated plans to open operations in the special economic zone since it was inaugurated in 2014, but

have not completed documentation to do so. Many other firms hope to gain entry into Cuba but are also yet to break ground, while others remain in the early stages of negotiation. Cuba says it hopes to accelerate the pace of foreign investment, which has been lagging at less than half its annual goal of over US$2 billion.

CARIBBEAN FINANCE MINISTERS DISCUSS ECONOMIC PROBLEMS IN THE REGION International Monetary Fund, (IMF), Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang, stated that the current global financial situation, with its low interest rates, provides an opportunity for Caribbean countries to pursue adjustment, undertake liability management to lower financing costs, reduce debts to safer levels and facilitate lending. This will all contribute to a renewed balanced growth. During a recent Caribbean Forum he argued that fiscal and broader macroeconomic stability are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for growth.



He said additional country-specific structural reforms have to go hand-in-hand to reap a growth dividend. Several Caribbean Heads of State, as well as Central Bank governors from nearby regions attended the forum. Tao Zhang told the delegates that the global outlook continues to be shaped by a subdued recovery from the global financial crisis and weak trade, and that 2016 is proving to be another year of lackluster growth. On the positive side, low oil prices have bene-

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fited most countries in the region because they import oil and fuel. Many of these countries have seen their external positions improve significantly.


The Brazilian Ministry of National Education announced that in the framework of bilateral cooperation between Haiti and Brazil, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen technical cooperation in the field of vocational training. Training and qualification of technical personnel, project monitoring and evaluation, preparation of specific studies and detachment of experts are some of the activities planned under this agreement. As such, a Reference Centre for vocational training will be established in Les Caye, Haiti.

COSTA RICA RECORDS LOWEST POVERTY FIGURES IN SEVEN YEARS According to the United Nations, an increase in the average income of the population has resulted in a reduction of poverty levels by 1.2% in Costa Rica. Research conducted by the National Statistics and Census Institute, demonstrates that the change translates to 10,350 families who are no longer considered poor, raising the number of Costa Rican families above the poverty line from 307,270 households in last year’s survey to 317,660 this year. The decrease in poverty is attributable to three variables:

a reduction in the country’s inflation rates, benefits granted by government subsidies and aid programs launched by public agencies such as the, The Inter American Development Bank, (IADB). INEC also reported that the average income for the wealthiest households in Costa Rica is almost 13 times higher than that of households with the lowest income levels.

THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AMONG THE 3 LEAST DEMOCRATICALLY DEVELOPED IN LATIN AMERICA Venezuela, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic are Latin America’s three least democratically developed countries, according to a report by Latin American political consulting company, Polilat, which measures the institutional, political and economic stability of the region and reveals an average fall of 3% in the South American continent and countries/islands in this area. According to the Latin America Democratic

Development Index (2016), the continent barely reached the approved percentage this year, with a 4.7% average in terms of social, economic, civic and economic democracy. The Index looks at civil liberties, socio-economic criterion, political culture and pluralism. Poverty, drug trafficking, bribery and corruption have become functional problems in recent years and this has reversed political structures.

AS ZIKA STRENGTHENS - ‘NALED’ MOSQUITO KILLER UNWELCOME TO MANY The first baby with Zika-related congenital Microcephaly in the region was recently born in Puerto Rico. In response to this development, the controversial pesticide, Naled, was sprayed over Miami in an effort to eradicate the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. However, the spraying has prompted protests from environmentalist groups

because Naled is a highly toxic insecticide that contains Malathion. It is lethal to all insects, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), it was recently responsible for killing millions of bees in South Carolina, some birds and some freshwater fish. Naled is used in the US but banned in the European Union. To

date, it has not been used in Puerto Rico. But the question remains: Will it stop Zika? Other mosquito control measures are failing and the Zika viral threat to babies is very great. Naled reduced the mosquito population by 99% in Florida and by 95% in New Orleans, but is it worth the price to pay for the environment?


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Making Money with Technology You have a new idea. Your new idea involves using technology. You think you have an innovation on your hands. But wait… it’s only considered an innovation after it has successfully been implemented. And in the business world, if something is considered a success that means you have either increased your income, or managed to lower your costs after implementation. TEXT FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI

Our entrepreneurial genes endow us with an almost unlimited supply of ideas. But the ability to make money from our ideas is not always as evident. This is especially the case with technology, as it changes at the speed of light, and sometimes at the blink of an eye, we can miss out on an opportunity to make our ideas work for us. So we attended the workshop, Tech & Money, by Janne Vereijken of the Dutch-based consulting company, Spring



Company, at the Connecting the Dots conference held on October 22nd to 24th to learn more about how we can make money with our technology ideas.

Success Factors The key to a successful technological product or service venture, according to Vereijken, is to identify the ideas for products or services that are both commercially feasible, desirable and

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technically possible, all in one. If any of those three components are lacking, then your idea will never take off the ground. The initial questions to ask would be: Which client segments could benefit from the innovation? How can technology solve this? How am I going to make money with this? Then, make sure your potential customers are ready and actually want this innovation. There are many ambitious innovative products that ended up without their predicted hype. The Segway, 3D television and Google Glasses for consumers are famous examples of products that were expected to become household items and ended up getting adopted by only a small few. They were commercially feasible and technically possible, but not sufficiently desirable. The other key component in your endeavor is to think about how you are going to make money from this. In other words, what is your business model or your earning model? Either you are trying to generate more income or lower your costs, whichever the case you need to come up with a way in which to build a framework that will allow you to make a profit. Profitable Business Models for Inspiration In today’s economies there are different busi-

ness models for different types of technology. Vereijken’s simple example explains this business model concept. Take for instance a car: you can buy it, lease it, rent it, share it (SnappCar), take a taxi (Uber), and even let it drive itself (Google’s self-driving car). This list includes seven business models in which you can make money with one technology. Vereijken calls this the Earning Model. For every idea that you want to launch, you need to assess which Earning Model you will use with the technology you will be implementing. During her workshop, Vereijken covered several earning models and examples of ways in which companies have used technology to create value and make money. • The Share Model: (Examples include: Airbnb, SnappCar and Peerby). They all share their property to third parties. Airbnb is a company where homeowners are offering their homes to tourists on vacation. SnappCar shares a car ride when you’re going in the same direction. Peerby enables you to borrow the things you need from people in your neighborhood. Think: what desirable assets can be shared between people or businesses that can be feasible using technology? • Platform Model: (Examples include: Uber, Apple App Store, Facebook, Amazon). These companies open up their business to other companies. They use their platforms to sell for others. Some companies like Uber are platforms from the start, while others became platforms.

•L icensing to Consumers Model: some are paid, like for instance Windows while others, like Skype, give their services away for free, but you have to pay for permission to download additional features (freemimum model) • Licensing to Competitors Model: Pixar developed amazing software to make its animated movies, then sold it to other competitors in the same business. This is a great way to earn back your investment. So maybe ask yourself: how can I get others to use my technology? • The Co-creation Model: (Examples of this model include: Threadless, Design Your Own Shoes, UltraMaker2 (3d printing) and Lego). Much of what they offer utilizes the creativity of their customers. These companies each built a community in which the customers upload great content, ideas and projects. That enables them to keep their own organization lean and low in costs. • The Do It Yourself Model: (Examples include: Shopify, Wordpress, AppBuilder, Etsy and Blurb). You don’t need expensive consultants or other service companies, but software enables you to do things yourself. • The Access Model: A type of business whereby instead of owning something, you gain access to it. Some examples are Netflix, Spotify and Bundles • The Help 2 Choose Model: (Examples include: and verzekeringssite. nl). These companies will list your options and help you choose the deals that best fit your needs, saving you time and money.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. Source: Wikipedia Examples of IoT: The Apple Watch, Amazon Dash Button, anything connecting your (home) appliances remotely. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. Source: Wikipedia

There are also endless ways to use technology to lower costs. UPS, for example, uses big data for route optimization, planning and to figure out the most efficient way to pack their packages in their delivery vans. Predictive maintenance through the use of sensors and other IoT (see inset box) is also booming.

Do’s and Dont’s Making money from technology can be tricky. Here are some of Vereijken’s tips for smoother sailing: • DO put your customer’s needs up front. • Generate lots of ideas. DON’T stop at your first great idea because this may stop you from seeing even greater opportunities. • DO prototype quickly - technology evolves quickly. Start testing as soon as possible and don’t wait until you have perfected things. • Test your business case; as soon as your product is out there you can test it in a low-key setting before you expand and increase your expenditure. That way you can start making improvements based on actual feedback from your real clients. This will avoid unnecessary time, money and effort, and you will make changes based on your customers’ feedback.


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Definitely Not a Waste of Time What is wastewater? Yes, there’s poop in there, but besides flushing the toilet, we also produce wastewater domestically when we take a shower or wash our dishes and cars. Outside of the household, it’s produced from industrial site drainage, agricultural run-off and even the residues that come from roads, sidewalks and roofs when it rains, just to name a few sources. Wastewater typically includes human waste, soaps, solvents, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, such as fertilizers you may use in your own yard. Wastewater from industry can include germs, pesticides and even radioactive materials – all of which is largely pumped into our oceans.

can be used in agriculture, reducing the need for scarce and expensive fresh water and expensive fertilizers. Wastewater sludge can be used to manufacture construction materials and generate biogas and biofuels. One high school student, Nurul MohdReza, was able to generate energy with wastewater by developing a prototype of a specialized, single-celled microbial fuel cell. At the Wastewater Conference, Mike Gosselin, manager of wastewater treatment for the City of Kelowna, in Canada, spoke about how the Kelowna treatment facility is managing and reusing its wastewater. The facility uses 55% of it’s wastewater in agriculture, in part producing Ogogrow – a soil amendment that gives a nutrient boost to the soil, as well as amending the soil’s water absorption. It uses wastewater in heat recovery systems, a local college currently using it for cooling its facility. Wastewater in Kelowna is also used to create ponds for wildlife and provides enough energy to power 40 homes per year.


Wastewater should end up in a treatment plant before it’s discharged into bodies of water, but more often than not, this doesn’t happen. Christopher Corbin, Program Officer for Pollution, Caribbean Environment Program, speaking at the Wastewater Conference Curaçao 2016, stated that in developing countries, more than 80% of wastewater is discharged into the waterways because the infrastructure is either inadequate or non-existent. We end up relying on our oceans as the world’s largest wastewater treatment plant. It causes



numerous problems globally, most often a threat to human health. Each year, 1.8 million children die due to diarrhea-related diseases worldwide. It’s also destroying aquatic environments, contributing to dead zones - aquatic environments almost completely devoid of life. Some of this destruction is evident right here in the waters surrounding Curaçao.

A Valuable Resource Ironically, wastewater can be a valuable resource. When properly managed, wastewater

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Commercial sites around the world are already using wastewater to their advantage. Gosslin mentioned that in its first year of using wastewater in place of water for non-potable needs, Le Sport Resort in St. Lucia saved 3.8 million liters (or 1 million gallons) of water with significant cost savings.

Financial Impact One in four jobs in the Caribbean are related to the fishing industry or tourism; both are directly impacted by the health of the sea. According to Corbin, the Caribbean Sea generates more than US $3 billion annually from

Wastewater Conference Curaçao 2016 The Bedrijvenplatform Milieu (BPM), or the Curaçao Business Council for Sustainable Development, recently hosted the conference: Intelligent reuse of wastewater, safeguarding our coastal waters and marine life for future generations. This two-day conference, which also included pre-conference training sessions, covered a variety of topics related to the effects of wastewater. Topics ranged from: the financial burden and economic opportunity in the Caribbean; developments in wastewater management on Curaçao and the reuse of treated water to sustain the environment; to the impact wastewater is currently having on our coral reefs and how a city in Canada is using it’s wastewater in effective and economic ways; with many more topics to fill the informative two days. With speakers from the Caribbean and Canada, the conference was informative and enlightening, broadening the view of the attendees as to the importance of wastewater, its global impact and the financial and environmental repercussions on the world population.

tourism and fisheries. The estimated value of shoreline protection services provided by Caribbean reefs is between US $700 million and US $2.2 billion per year. Net benefits derived from tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection could be reduced due to coral degradation by an estimated US $350 - $870 million per year if nothing is done to stop it. Within the next 50 years, coral degradation and death could lead to losses totaling US $140 million to US $420 million annually.1 Health care costs related to cholera, gastroenteritis and hepatitis are exorbitant. Approximately $260 billion per year is lost to diseases related to poor sanitation.2 The lack of proper waste disposal creates the spread of germs that cause disease. This includes risk of exposure to disease-causing toxins from wastewater that is dumped into the oceans, making people sick from consuming seafood that lives in these polluted environments, drinking inadequately treated water, and even from water recreation such as swimming, snorkeling and diving. According to Corbin, “Lack of money is not always a valid excuse; there is a need to develop an opportunistic mind. There are ways to look at the return on using wastewater effectively: investors looking for a return, governments looking to avoid paying subsidies and the public wanting to pay lower bills. Money talks – there is money to be saved and made from new revenue mindsets. Innovative approaches consumer outreach and private sector involvement to educate people to change local perceptions of waste is crucial for maximum impact and to ensure wise investments.”

For more information about this conference, as well as other conferences hosted by BPM, check out their website: or send an email to:

Wastewater Facilities in Curaçao Ursel Cordilia, the project leader at Public Works Curaçao, spoke about wastewater management and facilities on the island. There are four sewage treatment plants (STP), managed by Public Works Curaçao, on the island: Klein Kwartier, Abbattoir, Klein Hofje and Tera Kora. Future costs for renovating and updating of the facilities and operations are projected to cost the island around 37,200,000 NAF. This includes a much-needed renovation of (STP) Klein Hofje, renovation of the downtown sewer system and other projects. Currently, only around 33% of the island’s residents are connected to the sewage system because there are no regulations requiring it. According to Cordilia, “Protecting the environment and public health is the responsibility of the government.” The Ministry of Traffic, Transport and Spatial Planning recognizes the need to take action and it has a short-term and long-term water management plan for the island. In the next five years, the ministry plans to work out concrete measures for tackling five pilot areas – Rif, Spanish Water, Zapateer, Piscadera Bay and Lagoon Jan Thiel. In the long-term (the next 15 years), the plan is to develop a policy on sustainable water management covering the entire ground water cycle on Curaçao, including rainwater, groundwater, wastewater, lagoons, waterways, dams, etc.

Preventing wastewater from polluting the environment is easier and cheaper than dealing with the consequences of the pollution it creates. We can increase our wastewater treatment capacity, create better infrastructure to better manage storm water run off, changing our practices at home and at work to reduce the amount and toxicity of wastewater, as well as safely reuse wastewater rather than flush it away. If we manage wastewater properly, we can turn a harmful pollutant into a valuable resource. As Corbin so eloquently put it, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, there are plenty of resources and reports available – just get started! For more information, you can browse these websites:, 1 2 crap_seriously#t-400588


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Curaçao Chamber of Commerce Highlights August 2016

October 2016

11 + 18 August – Fair Trade Authority Curaçao, (FTCA):

31 October 2016 – FIHAV, La Habana Cuba

A lecture about the upcoming FTAC introduction was presented to association leadership and stakeholders in Curaçao.

The Chamber participated in cooperation with MEO, CINEX and the Embassy of the Dutch Kingdom in Havana at the FIHAV trade show as well as B2B meetings associated with the event. www.

25 August 2016 – CaribConnect

The Chamber launched the website CaribConnect to entice companies looking for funding for their projects in Curaçao by using the website as a resource for potential investments.

27 October 2016 – The Power of Networking

Course about the fundamentals and practices of Networking that is offered to SME’s in Curaçao (Papiamentu/ English)

25 August 2016 – The power of Google for your business

The Chamber presented the power of Google together with COSME for SME’s in Curaçao.

November 2016 2 November 2016 – Benefisio di Media Soshal

September 2016 27-28 September 2016 – Caribbean Basin Initiative, (CBI)

MEO, Customs Curaçao, Chamber of Commerce, the US Consulate based in Curaçao and CINEX held a training on the CBI and its opportunities for Curaçao businesses as well as stakeholders interested in export (and logistics). 28 September 2016 – Build your exit plan

Course offered by the Chamber to SME’s or dreamers interested in being a full-time entrepreneur. watch?v=vGn8a7_s0-4&



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Course about social media offered to SME’s in Curaçao, (Papiamentu). Global Entrepreneurship week: Curaçao Chamber of Commerce participated in the Global Entrepreneurship week, to facilitate and contribute to the training throughout the week.

Ready for the Smart Revolution?

A Case for Economic and Fiscal Preparedness We are on the verge of the next level of the “Smart Revolution”. How will this create new opportunities for us here in Curaçao and what challenges can we expect to see ahead? Fiscal economist and Senior Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao and guest lecturer of the University of Curaçao, Emauro Scoop, MSc, elaborated on this topic during a lecture held recently in the auditorium of the UoC. TEXT FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI

So what is the “Smart Revolution”? Google “Smart City” and you will be inspired by clever and creative technology-driven solutions that cities around the globe are implementing to improve livability, workability and sustainability for their citizens. Some cities lower their carbon emissions with citywide use of smart bicycles, while others help the elderly and disabled people by offering health check-ups and medical consultation through remote-controlled medical equipment and



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smart devices. So what does it take to make Curaçao the first “Smart Island” of the Caribbean? One thing is for certain: Smart technologies are changing urban lives, the economy and the way of doing business. They become a major economic driver. And a change in commerce means that, - in addition to the many other expected changes - our fiscal infrastructure needs to adapt accordingly in order to avoid pitfalls.

Why is it so exciting? Smart technology has the potential to transform Curaçao completely, even down to an operational level. We can create a healthier, more sustainable, more educated Curaçao. As a result, new types of businesses will grow. We could even reposition ourselves on the world economy stage as we have done before in our economic history. The concept of smart cities doesn’t compete with existing efforts. Instead, smart city technologies can support and enhance work already underway.

Why be concerned? As business interactions change we need to adapt our fiscal and tax systems.

• The distance of shopping will no longer be an issue, since e-commerce will make delivery to your door possible. But apart from unauthorized credit card access and misuse of corporate and personal information, governments are now struggling with tax origin and other fiscal issues. Scoop used a simple example to illustrate this: You’re on a business trip in the Virgin Islands and during your break you decide to buy a few new shirts online. You use a credit card at the Amazon website, which then sends the shirts from a warehouse in Panama to your Shipper in Miami, who then ships them to Curaçao. Where would this transaction be taxed and import duties levied? • Economic innovations such as Bitcoin and Digital Wallet also change the way we do business. This also brings some risk with it. We need a proper legal framework for businesses in this new digital economy, and attractive legal vehicles are necessary to stimulate companies in this industry. It is expected that e-commerce will cause 40% of traditional business to disappear in the next 10 years. For some businesses this will pose a serious threat. Others will see new opportunities and discover new niches arising from this change. Technology makes room for new applications and solutions and businesses need to reinvent themselves along the digital way. • There is also the matter of BEPS, (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting). Scoop argues: “We need to have a lean and mean legal framework and a proper economic system

to optimize our opportunities otherwise our own companies could be contributors of BEPS to our own Economy.” We need updated tax legislation in compliance with international regulations - corporate income tax, personal income tax, sales tax, and import duties should be levied on e-commerce transactions ‘received’ in Curaçao.

When do we start? Two words: start now. The digital economy evolves continuously and at a high pace. It wasn’t long ago that we used our first cordless phone and now smart phones, mobile devices, wireless networks and sensors are the norm. To the younger generation there is no way back. It is not a question of IF this smart revolution will happen, but rather WHEN it will happen. Already we are seeing worldwide commerce changes that directly affect our economy. We need to start finding solutions to prosper from this wave of change. For this to happen the government can play a role in enabling the necessary facilities and in carving a path upon which Curaçao can evolve.

How do we start? Scoop hopes that the Government will start a steering group to create a vision for Curaçao on how to deal with digitalization of our country and how to apply Smart Technology and innovation wherever needed in our system and our economy. Once we agree on how we’re going to use Information and Communication Technology to manage our assets such as schools, public transportation, government services, medical facilities, waste management, etc., to meet residents’ needs, it will

Base Erosion & Profit Shifting, (BEPS): Refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations. Under the inclusive framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions – including Curaçao – are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS. This movement, and the regulations related are coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, (OECD). The OECD helps governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy.

become evident which legislation, incentives, taxes, and other fiscal and financial prerequisites will best serve Curaçao. He notes, “We need to come together and pool the knowledge and resources we have scattered throughout departments and start creating a bridge towards this future smart economy. And we have to act now. Technology moves fast and it gives us speed. I argue for transparency and integrity so that we can keep Curaçao ranking high on the global financial ratings. I believe we have to get back to our creativity and inventiveness. We have what it takes to build this bridge to what’s next on the digital economy frontier. Vision and leadership are key elements for success in this new challenge for Curaçao.”


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Trends in Human Resources:

Once you have a selection of potential candidates, Balance’s suggestion is that it is important for the applicant to prove past performance. They believe this is more important than what the applicant promises to achieve in their new role. They follow this philosophy because past achievements are better predictors to what applicants are capable of in the near future. Experience indicates that any applicant can read a textbook and propose fantastic plans about what they are going to do, but if they haven’t achieve these results in the past, then it raises doubts because it presents an element of risk.

When hiring at a senior level, the strategic goal is often to improve and further develop the management team. Placing new people in a company brings new insights, and challenges old systems and processes. With these fresh ideas comes a new energy that flows through the organization.

Another important aspect to establishing a possible fit for candidates for a job position in Curaçao is to explore their personal history and motivations – especially if there is a need to relocate them. Balance explores this towards the end of the process, often with the last two or three candidates, as part of their final assessment. It is very important to get this right, many business people can attest to having experienced unsuccessful recruitments where six months into the role, the new hires decide that Curaçao is not for them and return to their home country. Therefore, engaging with applicants in interviews for high-level positions in Curaçao is essential, it is extremely unwise to put forward an applicant with whom you have not met or spoken. Any applicant can have an enchanting letter of introduction and accompany it with a qualified CV. However it is not until you personally speak with the candidate and get to know them that you will be able to form a

How the Recruitment Game is Played TEXT KATY BRANUM

Balance, an established mid and high-level management recruitment company, was launched six years ago and concentrates on giving advice to a wide variety of companies on topics such as organisational development and human capital, as well as recruitment. They shared their insights in finding the right fit with new hires and the role that technology plays in this process. Finding the right job candidates for placement in Curaçao is not always a straightforward pro-



cess, because even if the job title is familiar to the applicant, tasks and responsibilities can be quite different to what is found elsewhere in the world. It is important when promoting a vacancy that companies don’t just look at a job title without looking at the skill set that is required. Just promoting the job title can result in incorrect candidates, or perhaps result in a too narrow search net. Sometimes by reframing the job role, a wider net can be cast and with the right skill set communicated - the result can be a better quality of candidates applying.

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ogy and their in-house assessment department to create profiles of the potential candidates, and then analyses the combinations of the various profiles to see which grouping provides a balanced team. Changing just one profile in a team can really impact the culture and creates new insight. They also believe that all the job candidates are also clients and invest in helping the candidates, in areas such as career progression, next steps, and personnel development so that individuals are able to effectively work towards their career goals. They work with the individual to reflect on their qualities and also offer a reality check, helping them put themselves in the right perspective.

complete picture of that person and understand if they should move forward in the placement process. To help with this stage of evaluation Balance will conduct an interview either by Skype or in person, as they want to make sure that that candidate fits into the profile of the client’s company, if they have any doubts on whatever grounds either they will not introduce them or Balance will discuss it with their client first. If the client indicates that they still want to speak to the applicant themselves then of course that is their decision. As part of this process, Balance also believes that it is essential to clarify with the applicant what is expected from them. If they have an inaccurate view of the role, and what the expectations are, or if they have a completely different view of what is required, this is important to address, otherwise it will lead to disappointment. A special area to focus on with the applicant is often the leadership style within a client company. This is especially important in Curaçao as it often differs dramatically from other countries, including the Netherlands. Another element to consider is the political environment within the company, as this often has a huge influence on the company culture. This type of culture is something that is often unfamiliar to foreign candidates who can find themselves shocked or confused as to what is happening and can’t see how the business game is played here. Thus, it is important to have personal contact with the applicant to confirm if they have the right profile for success over here, based on the environment in which they will have to operate.

attract the best applicants. They use digital tools like LinkedIn, and target specific groups such as people from Curaçao who are currently living abroad. Every now and then expats are also found to fill key positions, and although this can sometimes be politically sensitive on Curaçao it often provides an optimum result. They are able to share their knowledge within the local company, helping to move it forward, and ultimately generating income for Curaçao, for example: running an airport or a hospital, where there are few qualified local candidates. So in order for the island to move forward, it is sometimes important to attract new international expertise as it brings fresh perspectives and ideas. When attempting to recruit more than one person, such as a new team, Balance uses technol-

Balance also educates them about career alternatives, for example if they are speaking with a financial professional that grew up in the accountancy hierarchy within an accounting firm, often they tend to think their skill set is limited to that specific environment. However, there is actually a broad range of different tasks in other environments that they can perform with their skill set, where the roles match their ambitions and qualifications. As a recruiting company it is important to focus not only on personnel, process, and structure development within client organisations, but also to assist with less tangible strategic changes such as, what kind of culture do you want in your organization? How do you motivate the right people in your company? How do you develop the people in your company? When do you have the right person in the right position?

To find the right candidates Balance uses technology to promote the position in Curaçao and when appropriate, internationally, to ensure they


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The Chamber’s Export Platform:

Curaçao Business Point Are you a Curaçao company that is looking to increase your online presence? If you own a business in Curaçao, big or small, whether you have a website or not, you can get FREE EXPOSURE on the Chamber’s export website, the Curaçao Business Point, ( Listing your company on the website gives you the free online exposure that you need. You will also have the invaluable opportunity to connect with the global business market, as this is the website that international companies seeking to do business on the island, will look towards the first. TEXT HELEN GRIFFITH

The Curaçao Business Point was officially launched on June 2nd, 2016. The website serves as a business platform for local business owners wanting to reach out to potential global markets for export opportunities. The website was launched by the President of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Willem ‘Billy’ Jonckheer, who feels very enthusiastic about this new project and the potential that this



website brings for local business expansion on the global market. The Curaçao Business Point website serves as: • A business directory that is free of charge for all companies registered at the Chamber of Commerce to increase their online exposure. This directory lists participating companies by category.

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• A n up-to-date source of contact information that is readily available and user-friendly to all local and international entrepreneurs. • A platform for businesses that are interested in export. Companies listed on this website will be the first to be invited to international trade missions abroad and foreign business opportunities. In addition, the website will begin to actively promote the companies internationally starting in 2017. • A filter of companies offering high standards of service. All companies listed on the website are required to have signed a code of conduct with the following nine principals: to be trustworthy; advertise honestly; be credible; transparent; protect privacy; embody integrity; stimulate sustainable development; show respect; and be accountable. The Curaçao Business Point website acts as a cohesive link to growing business opportunities for the island and challenges companies to make a step forward to expanding their business into the international market, while simultaneously attracting foreign investors. All local businesses are invited to register, free of charge, on the website,

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