Centrale Bank Aruba: Werkloosheid zal niet snel dalen

Oranjestad – De economie van Aruba kan volgens de Centrale Bank dit jaar met 5,2% groeien, maar evengoed met nog eens met 3,4% verder krimpen. Het eerste cijfer is de uitkomst van een optimistisch scenario, het tweede van een pessimistische kijk.

Hoe hard de coronapandemie op Aruba heeft toegeslagen, blijkt uit de krimp van de reële economie: – 26,4%, zo heeft de Centrale Bank berekend. De werkloosheid wordt geraamd op 15%. Die zal, zo blijkt uit de meest recente forecast, ook bij een verwacht herstel van het toerisme in 2021 nauwelijks dalen. Sterker nog, in het negatieve scenario zou de werkloosheid ruim kunnen verdubbelen.

Het toerisme is de allesbepalende factor. Het instorten van de economie is grotendeels toe te schrijven aan de daling met 70% van het aantal verblijfstoeristen. De eilandinkomsten kregen daardoor een dreun van ruim 56%. Wat evenmin hielp was het uitstel van geplande private investeringen.

Welk scenario van de Centrale Bank uitkomt, is dan ook grotendeels afhankelijk van hoe snel het toerisme zich herstelt. De onzekerheden zijn groot, benadrukt de bank.

With regard to the significant uncertainty in relation to the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strength of economic recovery thereafter, several scenarios were produced during the forecast for the year 2021:

1. Baseline Scenario

The main engine of economic growth, tourism, is expected to remain on the gradual path to resurgence during 2021, with total stay-over visitors projected to reach 60.0 percent of the 2019 level. Additionally, it is assumed that the GoA will maintain FASE and the wage subsidy program throughout 2021. As a consequence of these developments, the baseline scenario for 2021 assumes a recovery in private consumption, albeit remaining well below the pre-crisis level.

Despite the growth of tourism in 2021, the unemployment rate is forecasted to remain stable at 14.0 percent. This is because the level of employment in 2020 is (assumed to be) higher than it would be under the reigning circumstances were it not for the government’s assistance program. Therefore, increased activity in the tourism sector will not necessarily lead to job creation, but rather a reduction in the amount of wage subsidy paid by the GoA. Inflation is anticipated to amount to -0.7 percent in 2021, resulting mainly from a continued decrease in prices of CPI components excluding food and energy.

With respect to private investment, the baseline scenario assumes a further dampening in investment appetite, caused by enduring high uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, no new large investment projects are currently expected to start in 2021. Imports are projected to pick up following the gradual recovery within the tourism sector and the subsequent uptick in private consumption. The latter is partially mitigated by expected further abatement in investments.

2. Pessimistic Scenario

The pessimistic scenario in 2021 assumes a growth in tourism credits that is 10.0 percentage points lower than in the baseline. In addition, FASE and the wage subsidy provided by the GoA are discontinued under this scenario, leading to a projected unemployment rate of 38.7 percent. Consequently, disposable income and, thus, private consumption are dragged down further.

With regard to private investment, a larger portion of projects is assumed to be delayed, resulting in a lower investment amount in comparison to the baseline scenario. The pessimistic scenario foresees a negative growth in imports, which is the result of contractions in consumption and investment, due to the slower recovery in tourism.

3. Optimistic Scenario

For the optimistic scenario in 2021, tourism credits expands by an additional 10.0 percentage points, leading to higher tourism exports compared to the baseline scenario. A stronger recovery in the tourism sector is likely to lead to a higher amount of disposable income and private consumption compared to the baseline scenario. Regarding investment, fewer delays are expected, conducing to a higher amount for investment.

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