The Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, which visited Saba Tuesday, February 18, and Wednesday, February 19, said the budget, accountability and financial management on Saba remain of sufficient level. The CET also noticed that some structural tasks are still being funded in an incidental manner.
The CFT members said they had held “constructive” meetings with the Executive and Island Councils during their two-day visit to Saba.
Since 2014, Saba has received unqualified auditors’ opinions for all financial statements. The other budget documents and execution reports meet the required standards. However, the CFT has identified several challenges that Saba, in collaboration with the Netherlands, have to deal with in the upcoming period. This mainly regards the creation of structural coverage in the annual budget for structural tasks and the development of sufficient resilience capacity.
The Netherlands and the Public Entity Saba agreed in 2019 on the so-called “Saba Package”, which among other things stipulates that both governments will strive to finance structural tasks with structural resources. Per ministry it is to be assessed how to achieve this.
In its response to information from the Council of State and the Interdepartmental Policy Research, the Dutch government also indicated in October 2019, that the allotment of tasks will be clarified and restructured, after which it will be evaluated whether the free allowance (“vrije uitkering”) fits in with the tasks of the public entities. The CFT has agreed with the Executive Council to jointly determine this further.
The fourth execution report for 2019, on which the CFT advised recently, shows a positive balance of US $1,000,000. The draft budget for 2020, received by the CFT for advice on October 16, 2019, is balanced. “This was reached with a great deal of effort,” the CFT said in a press statement on Friday.
Compared to previous years, Saba had to reduce the budgeted amounts for certain matters. For example, the budgetary item “Contingency Reserve” has been reduced from $100,000 in 2019 to $22,000 in 2020. The CFT advised Saba to add a possible surplus for 2019 to the 2020 budget.
In CFT’s opinion, the 2020 budget complies sufficiently with the criteria. The 2020 budget was adopted by the Island Council on November 13, 2019, and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations on December 3, 2019, in accordance with the CFT advice.
The Daily Herald.