Blackman severely criticizes Finance Minister Shigemoto

POSTED: 10/14/11 12:08 PM

“Roorda-accusations heavily exaggerated”

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The accusations the government has leveled against the former Head of the Finance Department Bas Roorda are “unfounded, heavily exaggerated, and taken out of context.” Former Finance Commissioner Xavier Blackman writes this in a statement he submitted to Roorda’s attorney mr. Maarten le Poole for the upcoming court case in which Roorda contests his dismissal. The HBN law office filed the lawsuit on behalf of Roorda last week Wednesday. The court hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday November 9.
Blackman’s statement is highly critical of Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, who was acting director of resources and acting head of the finance department until Roorda was hired at the end of 2009. The former commissioner wrote that the tense work situation at the department was mainly due to Shigemoto’s attitude.
“In general the Director Resources took things in a negative way and personal, he reacted accordingly, and expressed himself regularly in a negative way about colleagues, the government in general and about the Executive Council in particular. He had a very passive insubordinate attitude (for instance by not reacting to correspondence or reacting too late). In his written and face-to-face contacts with colleagues (superiors as well as subordinates) and with members of the Executive Council he often used a negative or a provocative tone. He seldom showed initiative in a positive way, and in general he made a disinterested impression.”
Blackman wrote that he had to intervene on a regular basis in professional differences between Shigemoto and third parties. “During internal meetings as well as during meetings with third parties he often showed little interest, only gave input if he was explicitly asked to do so, and left it often to others (especially to Bas Roorda) to give that input.”
Blackman also notes in his statement that he could not always count on Shigemoto’s accuracy, completeness, openness and transparency and reliability.”
In one case, Blackman wrote, Shigemoto failed to have the Island Receiver verify information he received from the Tax Inspectorate about income tax revenue. “This resulted in a too high revenue projection in the budget, which was subsequently rejected by the Cft and led to an enormous political discussion.”
Shigemoto also once misinterpreted confidential information that was discussed in a meeting of the Executive Council. According to Blackman, he then gave that information without permission from the Exco to lower ranked staff members. “He also accused the Island Secretary of informing him about a statement I had made in the Executive Council. The Island Secretary denied this and the matter caused a lot of unrest within the Personnel and Organization Department. I ordered the director resources to offer his apologies in writing and to rectify this, but as far as I know, he never did this.”
Blackman states that Shigemoto also made payments without his knowledge or the knowledge of the Executive Council. “He made payments from the Economic Recovery Fund. These payments required the approval of the Executive Council, but for certain reasons it was apparently not desirable that they became known to the Exco.”
Blackman added that Roorda reported this to him, “because he had noted that not all bank accounts were properly accounted for. By doing this the Kingdom law Financial Supervision was willingly and knowingly violated.”
Roorda told Blackman that Shigemoto wanted to give him the authority to sign for these bank accounts that were kept outside the administration. But Roorda refused, and shortly afterwards, on October 19, he sent an email to secretary general Sherry Hazel asking her to recruit a new head of the finance department.
Blackman concludes that the way Roorda’s executed his job he exposed the failures of Shigemoto and previous Executive Councils. “On the other hand, I can very well imagine that after the DP/UP-coalition took office, that Roorda’s position came further under pressure, because the former director of resources suddenly became a Minister and in that function he was confronted with the historical reality and the many self-manifesting negative consequences of his own role in it.”
Blackman concludes that the government has used selected events to justify Roorda’s dismissal. But, the former Finance Commissioner notes with glee, “their purpose seems to be to conceal the true reasons for the dismissal.”

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