As Kingdom Representative for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba I would like to herewith provide an update on the developments following the June 10th instruction of the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations to place St. Eustatius under administrative supervision.
The instruction is to draw up an improvement plan to improve the financial and administrative management of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius. The Minister has instructed me to form a Steering Committee in order to prepare the aforementioned improvement plan. The Steering Committee comprises the Island Governor, the Commissioners, the Island Secretary and my person as chairperson. I was on St. Eustatius Monday June 29th and Tuesday June 30th for meetings with relevant parties.
The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held on Monday June 29th. Participating in this first meeting were the Kingdom Representative, Island Governor, Island Secretary and advisors (support staff). The two commissioners where not in attendance.
It is also important to ensure that there is careful and quick review of all decision-making by the Executive Council. These must be sent to the Kingdom Representative.
The meeting of the Steering Committee discussed the following building blocks for the action plan: official process, administrative decision making, administrative capacity and support, technical constraints, other constraints, finances, personnel and human resources process, short-term actions, costs and implementation and planning and good governance.
Based on the FINBES, the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, in a letter dated June 10th, also gave the following instruction with regards to the financial management of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius:
- As of June 18th the Executive Council must follow-up on the advice of the CFT regarding the budget and the financial management.
- Per immediate the Executive Council may not enter into any new financial commitments.
- An improvement plan for the financial management of St. Eustatius must be prepared in collaboration with the College of Financial Supervision (CFT) and in close cooperation with the Steering Committee.
Meanwhile the Executive Council of St. Eustatius and the CFT have met on Friday June 26th. The parties discussed the situation of the financial management, as stated in the instruction of the Minister. It is proposed that an expert group be set up consisting of an independent expert, and representatives of the Public Entity, the team of the Kingdom Representative and CFT. This expert group will draw up a plan of action for the improvement of the financial management by September 1st. This plan of action will be included in the plan of action focused on the administrative situation of the Public Entity that will be drawn up by a Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Kingdom Representative. The expert group will also report to the Steering Committee that has the central role in respect to the administrative problems.
Therefore, during my visit I also met with the Sector Directors of the local administration to learn firsthand what their plans are and to know if there are any foreseeable bottlenecks or constraints.
Multi Year Plan
There are conflicting reports with regards to the Multi Year Plan. In a statement earlier this month I informed you that the Central Government will not withhold any benefits from the community of St. Eustatius. The Central Government is committed to implementing the child allowance and the minimum wage. I wish to stress that although the Multi Annual Plan was not signed, there is still budget reserved for projects and residents of St. Eustatius will benefit directly from these. The projects, which could be executed, were also discussed during the meeting of the Steering Committee. Cooperation of de Executive Council is therefore important.
I maintain that ultimately the Central Government and the Public Entity of St. Eustatius have a common goal and that is good governance, transparency and financial stability. Participation of the Executive Council is of utmost importance and therefore I look forward to the Commissioners attending the next Steering Committee meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday the 9th of July.