All you wanted to know about precario

Just before the Easter holiday and five-minutes after a meeting with the government, designed to discuss the precario, the resorts got invoices from DIP  – hand delivered – for the new beach precario, with an ultimatum to pay  the imposed amount by May 1st 2017, if not the  Tiki huts on the beach may be subject to demolition.

It’s a great time for lawyers on the island, as they will be busy battling the inflated charges in court.

Precario is a new term, a new draconian measure.

One of my friends reports:  “So we had meeting with MinJust, MinInfra and MinTour. MinInfra had this arrogant smirk on his face throughout the meeting and made a remark that the precario was too cheap (!?!) joking at the expense of the hoteliers, whose major objection was the amount charged.

The precario went from Awg 5 per sqm to Awg 135 per sqm, so the hotels are disputing the calculation. Well, no sooner was the meeting over, the hotels got their precario bill with an ultimatum to pay up by May 1st or the demolition trucks will be let loose.”

I guess the United Airline style of passenger re-accommodating appealed to DIP.

Mind you, the government wants to charge Awg 135 per square meter of beach WITHOUT cleaning it, maintaining it or policing it; no life-guards, no first-aid, no trash cans, no replenishment of sand, that is all on the hotels’ account!

How did they get there?

In the past Awg 135 per square meter was the amount charged by the government for rent of a commercial venue, a kiosk or a bar, a permanent money making structure, but a chair? It isn’t making money, it is a service.

The hotels do not object to some charge, but they are objecting the crazy amounts. Example, a medium size timeshare resort got a bill of Awg 320.000, the smallest hotel Awg 82.000. The Marriott wouldn’t disclose the amount, but I am even afraid to ask.

Let’s do the math: One chair, time 3 meters, times Awg 135, times let’s say 1,000 chairs = Awg 405,000.-

And some friendly lawyer I spoke to says that the hotels shouldn’t have applied for a precario license at all, because the beaches on Aruba are public and guests should be allowed to prop a chair and enjoy the space.

The intention of the Beach Policy was good, naturally, we must protect and preserve the beach, but the way it went down empowered the water sports operators to expand and spread more umbrellas and chairs, while the hotels folded back to a certain distance from the water.

Because no one did anything about the water sport operators’ bad behavior, they brought the jet skis down to Eagle Beach, disrespecting swim zones, and disrespecting guidelines regarding safety, insurance and general conduct.

Basically, Justice, Infrastructure and Tourism, three different ministries must learn to collaborate on that one Beach Policy project, on behalf of Aruba’s #1 asset. But they are bickering and pointing fingers, unable to work together for the good of the island. It is also lamentable that the Beach Policy is just a guideline, not a law, and you know that a guideline is a mere suggestion, followed by law-abiding citizens and ignored by the rest.

A LAR court case on June 15th, will mark the beginning of the legal process.