Salary Budget Government Commissioners not exceeded
Government Commissioners Alida Francis and Claudia Toet find it important to clarify questions about the second periodical reporting raised in reports in the newspaper and on radio last weekend.
The first question referred to a cost overrun on salary costs of former Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij and former Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis.
The article further indicated that there was an overrun of 2 million USD on allowances allocated to the Public Entity St. Eustatius.
These two points taken up in the second implementation report were misinterpreted in the news article.
Previously the Central Government financed the salaries of the Government Commissioners. This has changed at the end of the year 2020 which effected the regular budget in 2021.
Due to the change, it might seem that the budget was exceeded but in reality, it has not.
The next step is that a budget amendment needs to take place. The Unit Finance of the Public Entity St. Eustatius confirms that there were no extra salary costs for previous Government Commissioners Van Rij and Francis.
One of the changes in the change management plan for Finance is to work accordingly to the Decree Budget and Reporting (Besluit Begroting en Verantwoording).
The salaries of the Government Commissioners are a budget neutral item in the budget.
Effective 2021 the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has decided to exclude the addition to the free allowance of the salary costs for Government Commissioners, to be provided to the Public Entity by other means. From 2021, a special allowance will be provided by the Ministry to the Public Entity to cover the budgeted salary costs of the Government Commissioners.
In the article it was also indicated that there would be an overrun of 2 million USD in the second periodical reporting.
The Public Entity St. Eustatius states that this is also not correct. There is no overspending of 2 million USD. The projects are not closed administratively, which means that additional costs are yet to be transferred.
Phases to return to democracy
Under the Provisions Recovery Act St. Eustatius (Wet Herstel Voorzieningen Sint Eustatius) adopted by the First and Second Chamber in July 2020, the Government Commissioners have other authorities compared to the normal democratic situation.
This Law refers to 4 different phases and are linked to 12 criteria which must be met to be able to return to full democracy.
During the phases, the Government Commissioners have different authorities than in a normal situation where full democracy is applicable. During the phases the members of the Island Council have limited authorities.
We are currently in the phase where the Island Council has the authority to approve ordinances, but not yet ordinances or decisions of a financial nature.
The Government Commissioners believe in good governance and fostering close cooperation on the way to the restoration of democracy, in an open and transparent manner while closely working with the Island Council on the financials aspects.
Although the Wet Herstel Voorzieningen St. Eustatius is in effect granting the Government Commissioners certain powers and authorities, there are two authorities being the College Financieel Toezicht (CFT) and the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations that have a supervisory role. The CFT has resumed its supervisory task since July 16th, 2020.
Informative videos to inform the public on the status of the phases and the criteria are expected to be launched in September 2021. Phase 1 (including the criteria) was explained by Government Commissioners during the information campaign leading up to the 2021 elections of the Island Council.