Netherlands Vs Former Antilles

Latest No New Dutch Funding To Finish St Maarten School Repairs

Latest No New Dutch Funding To Finish St Maarten School Repairs
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, cityscape at the Great Salt Pond.

Latest No New Dutch Funding To Finish St Maarten School Repairs

Billions at once, the government tackled the corona crisis. But control over those expenditures lagged behind

The government has spent an extra 29 billion euros at a rapid pace to combat the corona pandemic in 2020. The basic rules of democracy have been violated, according to the Court of Audit. For example, parliament was too often sidelined.

Several times the House of Representatives and the Senate were faced with a fait accompli when the cabinet was making large expenditures. In doing so, the cabinet violated the budget right of the elected representatives, a constitutional right to participate in decisions and talks about government expenditure. Because it is about money that belongs to everyone, public money.

“The rules of the game do not change when there is a crisis,” says President of the Court of Audit Arno Visser. “Parliament must always be informed properly and on time.” If that does not happen, then “the cornerstone of our democratic system is at stake”. The Court of Audit does approve the national budget for 2020, but has critical comments.

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, led by Corona Minister Hugo de Jonge, was particularly bad. Last month, with the support of the Central Government Audit Service, the ministry was given the time to put its books in order before the Court of Audit could give its approval. Yet there are still ‘serious imperfections’ and new problems can arise.

Weaknesses in financial management at the ministry had existed for some time, according to the Court, but have worsened under pressure from the pandemic. The ministry admits that in the corona year, “orderly financial management was not the first priority”.

Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra is also heavily reproached. “He has failed in his duties as a supervisor,” the Court said. According to Hoekstra, many irregularities are “60 to 70 percent related to corona”. He does acknowledge that there is “homework to do”.

The government has spent an extra 29 billion euros at a rapid pace to combat the corona pandemic in 2020. The basic rules of democracy have been violated, according to the Court of Audit. For example, parliament was too often sidelined.

Several times the House of Representatives and the Senate were faced with a fait accompli when the cabinet was making large expenditures. In doing so, the cabinet violated the budget right of the elected representatives, a constitutional right to participate in decisions and talks about government expenditure. Because it is about money that belongs to everyone, public money.null

“The rules of the game do not change when there is a crisis,” says President of the Court of Audit Arno Visser. “Parliament must always be informed properly and on time.” If that does not happen, then “the cornerstone of our democratic system is at stake”. The Court of Audit does approve the national budget for 2020, but has critical comments.

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, led by Corona Minister Hugo de Jonge, was particularly bad. Last month, with the support of the Central Government Audit Service, the ministry was given the time to put its books in order before the Court of Audit could give its approval. Yet there are still ‘serious imperfections’ and new problems can arise.

Weaknesses in financial management at the ministry had existed for some time, according to the Court, but have worsened under pressure from the pandemic. The ministry admits that in the corona year, “orderly financial management was not the first priority”.

Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra is also heavily reproached. “He has failed in his duties as a supervisor,” the Court said. According to Hoekstra, many irregularities are “60 to 70 percent related to corona”. He does acknowledge that there is “homework to do”.

Hoekstra presented the government’s annual financial report in the House of Representatives on the traditional third Wednesday of May (‘minced meat day’). The Court of Audit checks every year whether the rules have been followed and whether the money has been well spent.null

Often there is sharp criticism, which justifies the question whether the advice is taken to heart. For example, the National Ombudsman recently said that he is ‘looking for a club to read his reports’, as a reproach towards the outgoing Rutte cabinet. Visser acknowledges that the Court of Audit also has a role to play in strengthening power and counterpower in democracy. But his authority cannot intervene, he emphasizes. It is up to parliament and the ministries to do something with the advice.

Financial management at the Ministry of Corona Minister Hugo de Jonge is far below par. For example, receipts are missing for respiratory equipment delivered to healthcare institutions. The numbers of purchased corona tests on invoices are incorrect, so it is unclear how many were delivered. In the warehouses of the National Consortium Tools, there are stocks of protective equipment such as mouth masks for ten years.

This is also where the 40 million face masks are arranged by Sywert van Lienden’s organization. The payment of more than 100 million and especially the profit that Van Lienden has made on this is currently a topic of controversy. At the time, Van Lienden said he wanted to help ‘selflessly’. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport spent a total of 5.1 billion euros on protective equipment, breathing equipment and test equipment.

According to the Court of Audit, 2.48 percent of the commitments (expenditure that have been committed) were unlawful and therefore not according to the rules. A margin of 1 percent in errors and uncertainties is still acceptable. Overruns have not happened since the financial crisis of 2008, when the government had to keep the banks and the economy afloat with billions.

This concerns an amount of 9.1 billion in commitments, two-thirds of which were related to the fight against the virus. Of the expenditure that has already been made, 4.3 billion (1.52 percent) did not go according to the rules. Half of that was expenses for the corona crisis. This concerned, for example, support schemes for companies or for the economy in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. About 22 billion euros of the corona support went to companies – most of the amount was spent by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Things also went well, says the Court of Audit. The repatriation of thousands of Dutch people at the start of the corona crisis went well. And despite ongoing government IT problems, 175,000 civil servants were able to work from one day to the next.

https://www.sxmgovernment.com

https://www.stmaartennews.org

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