EenVandaag broadcast criticizes St. Maarten “Financial supervision does not function”

POSTED: 04/18/13 2:56 PM
Former head of the Finance Department Bas Roorda during the EenVandaag broadcast on Tuesday. Photo screenshot EenVandaag.

Former head of the Finance Department Bas Roorda during the EenVandaag broadcast on Tuesday. Photo screenshot EenVandaag.

St. Maarten – Financial supervision does not function properly. Bas Roorda, the former head of the Finance Department, made this statement in the Dutch TV-program EenVandaag on Tuesday. Roorda also said that in his opinion the 2013 draft budget shows a 25 million guilders deficit, though he did not elaborate.

The 5 minutes and 30 seconds long report in EenVandaag – timed immediately after the conclusion of the Kingdom Relations parliamentary committee’s meeting about Sint Maarten – begins with the following statement from reporter Mark Belinfante: “Essential information about criminality, money laundering and corruption in St. Maarten has been withheld for years for Members of the Parliament by civil servants at the Ministry of Home Affairs. This is according to Bas Roorda. He says that the Netherlands has to intervene quickly to prevent that the Dutch tax payer has to pay for the debts that are being made.”

Roorda then appears on the screen saying that St. Maarten had ended up in the red before. “That was an amount of around 30 million guilders,” he said.
Belinfante calls St. Maarten in his report a beautiful vacation-island. “But after the independence in 2010 the island is making a name for itself internationally with laundering drugs money, corruption and a very dubious financial administration. Debts are piling up and one day they will have to be paid.”

Roorda: “That is where the guarantee function comes into play and then the Kingdom has to pay. And if I say Kingdom you may read: the Netherlands, the Dutch tax payer.”

Belinfante then describes how Roorda came to St. Maarten in 2009. “On behalf of the Netherlands he is going to help set up a Finance Ministry. For two years he supervises the new ministry. He encounters embezzlement and corrupt financial constructions. He sends warning after warning to the Ministry of Home Affairs in The Hague but to no avail. And Roorda is not the only civil servant in St. Maarten who is warning for nasty practices. But The Hague seems to be deaf. Roorda is done with it and decides to go public: this cannot go on any longer.”

Roorda appears close up on the screen again, next to random island-images. “When you talk to civil servants in St. Maarten or to officers of the Marechaussee – they are driven in their work, but they become quickly frustrated once they discover that it does not help all that much.”

Belinfante wonders how this is possible, given the fact that the reports these civil servants write arrive in The Hague. Are they dumped in a drawer?

Roorda: “Apparently, because you do not see that anything is done with that information. If the minister became aware of all these official reports he would probably blow his top.”

Roorda says in the broadcast that the reports he refers to deal with a broad spectrum of issues – “from financial risks and ties of politicians with the underworld to wrong public tenders and local problems.”

Belinfante concludes that, according to Roorda, civil servants at the Ministry of Home Affairs deliberately have been withholding information for Members of the Dutch Parliament. “His statement is confirmed by parliamentarians who have been asking for years in vain for information.”

Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak: “Every year we ask: what is the situation with the finances, the budget, the government-owned companies and the debts. Every time we get a lame reply.”

VVD-MP André Bosman: “I want to know what is going on. Have there been debriefings? Have there been interviews with civil servants that have worked there? What kinds of reports are we talking about and are they available?”

PvdA-MP Pierre Heijnen: To me it sounds like a good idea to ask the minister to open those drawers. Withholding information for the minister and for the parliament is a deadly sin. I do not accept that. this has to be made public.”

After these statements Belinfante goes into a somber mode whereby he tells viewers that St. Maarten became “independent” in 2010 within “the united Kingdom” and that the Netherlands remains responsible for possible debts the island is making. “Therefore it is important to supervise St. Maarten’s finances properly. The board for financial supervision Cft is sold in the Netherlands as our watchdog that keeps a close eye on everything and to correct when something goes wrong. Is that correct?”

Roorda disagrees: “No; that is not correct. St. Maarten is able to enter into all kinds of financial liabilities in the sphere of creditors. Government-owned companies are also able to enter into liabilities that are not immediately visible for the Cft – and when they do it is too late. At that moment commitments have already been made. That way debts are able to increase, and that is already happening.”

Is the Cft a paper tiger? Belinfante asked.

MP Bosman: “At this moment the Cft has insufficient possibilities to really enforce things and to review the figures properly.”

“They can easily be fooled,” Belinfante suggested.

“I am afraid so,” Bosman replied.

EenVandaag then turned its attention to the budget: “The Cft’s powerlessness appears clearly from the 2013 budget. The Cft recently approved it but do not ask how.” Belinfante added that Roorda has studied the budget and that he has concluded there is a deficit.

Roorda: “That is correct. There is a deficit of approximately 25 million guilders. The Cft has given a provisionary statement of approval because we are almost halfway through the year. If you keep going on about 2013 while the year passes by it does not make a lot of sense. But it does illustrate that financial supervision does not function this way.”

The broadcast is available on uitzendinggemist.nl 

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