The online publication of what seem to be salaries earned by directors of government-owned companies and agencies in Curaçao led to much commotion. Four of them (see Thursday paper) have vowed to file criminal complaints for what they consider violation of their privacy, while the Rhuggenaath Cabinet also announced an investigation into the leaking of confidential information that supposedly occurred at the Tax Office.

However, Dutch Member of Parliament (MP) Ronald van Raak thinks it’s perfectly normal for these things to be out in the open. He has added this latest concern to his fixation on the relatively handsome pay of St. Maarten’s legislators, who are to reduce such by 10 per cent as condition for continued liquidity assistance from The Hague to cover budget deficits resulting from the ongoing economic impact of Hurricane Irma.

In Willemstad too there is much indignation. After all, astronomical amounts of NAf 95,000 monthly and US $500,000 per year have been mentioned.

Mind you, it’s not the first kingdom partner to face this problem. At a certain point a similar situation got so out of hand in the Netherlands that they introduced the so-called “Balkenende Norm”, named after then-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

The latter meant nobody working for public sector-related entities could make more than the prime minister. This was not without controversy, as many of the organisations involved operate on the private market and must compete with commercial businesses for top executives with the necessary experience and knowledge, in a world where a culture of hefty performance bonuses often prevails.

In the end it was done, however, and the feared negative impact remained manageable. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, the three Dutch Caribbean countries should now seriously consider following suit.