"The Hague failed to demand annual accounts from islands"

THE HAGUE--The General Audit Chamber in the Netherlands believes the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK should have pushed harder to ensure that the former Netherlands Antilles and its Island Territories produced audited and approved annual accounts.

“We lament the fact that the Ministry of BZK didn’t take any action to stimulate the former Netherlands Antilles and Island Territories to have their annual accounts approved by their Parliament and Island Councils,” stated the Audit Chamber in its annual Kingdom Relations report which was sent to the Dutch Second Chamber on Tuesday.

“In a properly functioning government, Parliament (and the Island Councils, ed.) not only approves the budget, but also allows discharge of a timely submitted and audited annual account,” the Chamber stated.

The Chamber pointed out that the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles hadn’t approved annual accounts since the late 1960s. Curaçao’s Island Council hasn’t approved annual accounts since 2001.

The situation is worse in St. Maarten, where the Executive Council even stopped drafting annual accounts since 2005, meaning there is no accountability of government’s finances. St. Maarten has been working on eliminating the backlog in drafting annual accounts.

In Aruba, annual accounts were drafted up until 2005 and audited until 2004, but they were never approved by Parliament. The Dutch Audit Chamber wants Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner to stimulate the islands to get their annual accounts in order.
The Chamber impressed upon the Ministry of BZK the need to dedicate the necessary attention to the drafting and approval of annual accounts for the three Dutch public entities Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. The Chamber pointed out that in the new situation, the Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations could approve these annual accounts, if need be.

Minister Donner acknowledged during a meeting with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations on Wednesday that more attention should be given to the timely auditing and approval of the annual accounts of the three public entities.

Donner said he would approve the annual accounts of the three islands, if necessary, in case the Island Councils failed to do so in time. The Minister didn’t mention the approval of the annual accounts of autonomous countries Curaçao and St. Maarten.

20 May 2011

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