Wescot-Williams: Delays Ombudsman funding caused by Usona procedures

POSTED: 07/4/11 12:02 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams reacted in Parliament this week during the budget debate to the plight of the Ombudsman. The PM said that some delays were caused in releasing funds to the Ombudsman “by Usona procedures.”

“To a large extent this was straightened out,” Wescot-Williams said. “Usona even approved a working capital for the first time in St. Maarten’s history, a kind of a large petty cash to spend first and to declare later.”

The PM said that high councils of state like the Ombudsman are not legal entities and that they cannot open a bank account. “It has to go through the finance ministry based on a national decree. The high councils have decided not to establish a so-called management foundation to handle such matters. There is therefore a delay in opening the bank account for the working capital to be accessed.

Wescot-Williams said that the 2011 budget for the Ombudsman is 11.1 million guilders (around $615,000) and that so far 80,609 guilders (around $45,000) has been spent on a car and on furniture.

“In addition to this on the country’s budget for 2011 an amount of 838,079 guilders is included. The project funds are being accessed,” Wescot-Williams said. “Many additional activities and purchases over and above the first 80,000 guilders are handled right now by project leader Pyt Lucas. Many are waiting in some shape or form for feedback from the Ombudsman.”

Earlier this week, the Ombudsman gave a press conference to present the bureau’s annual report. Ombudsman Arduin told reporters that they were sitting on rented plastic garden chairs, and that, nine months after the bureau was established, there still were no computers and that there also is no telephone system in place.


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