Age Bakker (Cft): “Sint Eustatius must act now”
Concerns about financial situation Sint Eustatius persist
ORANJESTAD - The Board of financial supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) met on December 7th on Sint Eustatius with the Executive Council and the Island Council. The concerns the Cft had raised about the financial situation of the public body during the previous visit are persisting. Although some reporting requirements were partially met in November, some necessary steps should be taken soon in the area of financial management and liquidity. Longer delay is not an option anymore. The Executive Council and the Island Council have indicated that they would start working to cope with the administrative and financial problems in Sint Eustatius.
The financial situation of Sint Eustatius is, and still remains worrisome. The annual accounts revealed that 2014 has ended with a deficit. The Cft does not consider it feasible that the deficit of 2014, which the Cft estimated at USD 0.5 million, can still be offset in the budgetary year 2015. For that reason, the Cft advised Sint Eustatius to compensate the entire deficit in the 2016 budget. An amended draft budget in which the deficit is compensated has been adopted by the Island Council on December 8th. The Cft believes that Sint Eustatius has no small task in trying to stay within the budgetary limits. Support is desirable at this point. Cft will advise the minister of BZK, upon receipt of the amended 2016 budget, to suspend the obligations stop and replace this with preceding supervision.
Only in the last quarter of 2015, the public entity managed to submit adopted financial accounts over 2014, a revised first budget amendment over 2015 and the draft 2016 budget to the Cft. Neither the legislative cut-off dates, nor the repeatedly postponed deadlines were met. Consequently this year the information supply to the Island Council, the Cft and the minister of BZK was quite limited. This situation is troublesome and requires urgent improvement in 2016.
An expert group which was instated in 2015 in consultation with the public entity has recently presented an improvement plan to address the issues related to financial management. This improvement plan is an integral part of the overall improvement plan which addresses both the administrative and financial problems. The Cft pointed out that in 2016 a fresh start must be made, whereby the public entity should work energetically to execute the overall improvement plan. The measures in this plan should eventually ensure a sound administrative and financial situation is created in Sint Eustatius. The deliberations with the Executive Council and the Island Council have shown the will to press ahead with the improvement plan. The Cft will monitor the execution of the financial part of the improvement plan, and report in its responses to the periodic execution reports.