Age Bakker (Cft): ‘It will be essential to work jointly’
Sint Eustatius should make sound public finances its priority
ORANJESTAD - The Board of financial supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) met on June 27th on Sint Eustatius with the Executive Council and the Island Council. The Board also spoke with the process managers about the plan of action. During the visit the discussions were mainly about the strengthening of the Finance unit and the support that is thereby required. According to Chairman Age Bakker: ‘The willingness to push through is clearly noticeable on Sint Eustatius’. However, it is important now to get down to it in practice, in order to achieve the necessary qualitative reinforcement of the Finance unit.
For some time now the information about the budget execution and the financial situation of Sint Eustatius has been seriously lacking. During 2015 not all reporting obligations were fully complied with. The secretariat has started to offer the public entity concrete support. Based on the first execution report the Cft had to conclude that the public finances of Sint Eustatius were not up to par and are developing in a way that is too limited. This was also confirmed by the Executive Council. The filling of critical key positions within the government shall strengthen the administrative and financial capacity of Sint Eustatius. This, along with sufficient financial means, is necessary also in order to enable the further execution of the plan of action and the financial management improvement plan.
The acknowledgement of the issue is a first step in the process to actual take the necessary measures to improve the situation. Sint Eustatius is not alone in this process and the Cft shall offer support and advice in the most effective way. It is of utmost importance now to join each other and work together so as to make sure that before long the first improvements will become visible. The public entity has appointed a new Head of Finance as per June 1st, 2016. During its meeting with the Executive Council and the Island Council the Cft indicated that the challenge Sint Eustatius is facing may be considerable, but not impossible.
Short term priority
The Cft has emphasized that the priority should be to vigorously reinforce the capacity of the Finance unit, thereby possibly making use of BZK’s offer to employ technical assistance. Furthermore it is important to meet the reporting obligations as soon as possible and eliminate the backlog in the financial administration in a short term. In any event the drafting of a solid 2017 budget, that will ensure the desired provision level for Sint Eustatius, need to start in the near-term.