Opinion: Sinking ship

POSTED: 11/21/13 1:26 PM

The opposition of the Government in Curacao against the announced mass dismissals at Telecom provider UTS were to be expected. When the going gets tough – as is happening now at UTS – politicians quickly lose their head, think about their voters and enter a state of emotional distress.

They forget to ask themselves the question which jobs they are really protecting: those of the 200 employees that have to go, or those of the 400 others that will be allowed to stay on board. It is very well possible that by throwing a fit and resisting the painful loss of 200 jobs, politicians are putting the other 400 jobs at risk as well.

Telecom providers operate in a competitive market. If this were not the case, UTS would probably have had twice as many employees. That situation would of course result in outrageous charges to consumers for telecommunication services.

Right now, UTS claims it is no longer able to sustain the burden of paying 600 employees every month. Instead of producing a political Pavlov-reaction, politicians ought to familiarize themselves first with the real state of affairs at UTS. Figures do not lie.

The country will obviously be much better off with a viable Telecom provider than it would be with a company that looks like the sick old man of the local economy. To achieve such goals painful measures may at times be necessary. Nobody is looking forward to those situations – least of all the management at UTS.

The government in Curacao would be wise to dive into the history of for instance the Dutch economy where state support to the country’s shipyards has cost the taxpayer millions until finally the realization kicked in that it was rather useless (and costly) to keep pumping money into a lost case.

Curacao ought to consider itself lucky that UTS is not that deep in trouble yet. But if it stubbornly refuses to accept the economic reality its Telecom provider is facing, it could very well happen that the government will have to pump a lot of money into a sinking ship in the future.

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