Opinion: Pastechi (Curacao Corporate Governance)

POSTED: 01/8/12 4:57 PM

Curacao has its own moments in the field of corporate governance. Everybody has by now almost forgotten that the Schotte-government wants to order an integrity-investigation by Transparency International. Last time we had contact with TI’s director for the Americas, Alejandro Salas, no contract had been signed, and the organization is still contemplating whether it has the time and the resources to do the job. That could take until the end of this month, Salas said just before Christmas.

There is never a shortage of controversy in Willemstad and it does not really surprise anyone that Tara, the wife of Parliament President Ivar Asjes, suddenly landed a job as head of the commercial department of the Curacao Port Authority.

There is now a pastechi war on the island; pastechi being the local expression for favoritism or nepotism or whatever one wants to call the practice of favoring family members and friends for well-paid positions.

Does the term good governance ring a bell? Does this shed some light on the resistance to the Good Governance Council by Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger and DP parliamentarian Leroy de Weever?

In a small community like ours you’ll quickly find friends or family members in comfy positions. That always raises eyebrows, though to be fair, not everything that seems fishy is fishy.

But politicians ought to keep in mind that the semblance of a conflict of interest is enough to start tongues wagging, to trigger an avalanche of gossip and to create major headaches.

In Curacao, MFK-leader Dean Rozier has asked Economic Affairs Minister El Hakim for more information about Tara’s fantastic new job, and the minister in turn has put the same question to the Curacao Port Authority.

The outcome of this exercise is predictable: there was nothing wrong with the appointment, all procedures were followed. Case closed.

Well, not really, because what matters is how believable such a statement would be and – even if it were one hundred percent true – how it is perceived and how it is handled by politicians.

All this shows once more the importance of the good governance code; it also justifies the existence of a Corporate Governance Council.

At least, this is the opinion of citizens who want to put their trust in our constitutional democracy. Those among us, who think that it is up to politicians to tell us what is good for us, have obviously another opinion. They also have a different agenda: to them, democracy is handy as long as it fits their purposes. As soon as the rules get in the way of, say, giving a soft but well paid job to relatives or friends, democracy is suddenly a bother.

Next week, good governance and integrity are high on the agenda for the inter-parliamentary consultation. This seems the right moment to address these issues, not only for the benefit of the citizens of Curacao, but also for their brethren in St. Maarten.

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