Opinion: Screams from the third floor

POSTED: 11/9/11 12:53 AM

So now we have an official report of the financial supervisor Cft that paints a painful picture of the goings on in the finance department.
Everybody has known for years that the government’s financial administration is a mess, but now we may carefully conclude that the government has things to hide. What else to make of the fact, as reported by the Cft, that the compiler of the annual accounts was repeatedly refused access to the systems at the office of the Island Receiver?
Basically, if we read the report correctly, we have no idea how rich or poor the country really is, and apparently there are powers at work who want to keep the truth away from the public eye.
This is one of those moments when the parliament has the opportunity to flex its muscles and demand answers. But will that happen?
Is it not remarkable that Kingdom Relations Minister Piet Hein Donner sent the Cft report on September 20 to the parliament and that now, fifty days later, nobody has made a stink about it? There are several possible explanations for this. The parliament received the report but did not distribute it to the members. Or the parliament put it in the M-letter boxes in the parliament building and nobody has checked them for mail in the past fifty days.
But it is also possible that all Members of Parliament have read the report and concluded that there is nothing new under the sun. Or maybe they think it is better not to say anything, following the eons-old tradition of least said soonest mended.
Has the opposition read the report? And said nothing about it? That seems highly unlikely, so we think that somehow somebody has managed to keep the report under wraps. Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, political action is bound to follow.
Refusing the compilers of the annual accounts access to information they need to produce reliable reports is a deadly sin. The result is that the parliament is presented with what one could call without restraint bogus information, because it has been presented deliberately incomplete.
The parliament has the task to control the government. And as far as we are able to judge by the Cft-report, there is every reason for the parliament to spring into action.
Obviously, not spring into action is also an action. That’s a bit like being confronted with a tough decision, for instance when one stands in front of a burning house, knowing that there is a 90-year old grandmother stuck on the third floor.
What to do? Go in and rescue her or do nothing?
It is easy to see that both taking action and doing nothing will have an effect on the outcome of the fire. Will grannie live or die? That depends on the decisiveness of the onlookers. Are they afraid to get burned? How will they live with themselves if they do nothing and even close their ears for the screams from the third floor? They’ll get burned anyway – one way or the other.
This is the situation our Members of Parliament find themselves in. Will they listen to the screams from the third floor?

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