Focus audit on the Dutch contribution to the reconstruction of Sint Maarten

In September 2017, the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten was hit by two hurricanes in rapid succession. Hurricanes Irma and Maria not only wreaked a huge amount of material havoc, they also caused a great deal of human suffering. As a result, a large part of the infrastructure and buildings on the island need to be rebuilt and made more resilient to the annual hurricane season in this part of the Caribbean. The costs of the reconstruction programme are estimated at approximately €2 billion, part of which should be paid from public funds. The Dutch government has granted a total of €550 million through a Trust Fund managed by the World Bank to help Sint Maarten ‘Build Back Better’.

Why are we auditing this?

During the past few months, several complaints about the progress of the reconstruction programme have reached us. A frequently heard point of criticism concerns the fact that Sint Maarten was not properly prepared for a possible hurricane by the time the new hurricane season started. It has also been claimed that most citizens of Sint Maarten are still coping with the consequences of the hurricanes on a day-to-day basis. At the same time, it is also important that the Dutch contribution to the reconstruction programme is spent both thoughtfully and efficient.

What are the audit questions?

Our aim in performing this audit is to get a clear picture of the arrangements that have been made about the spending of the Dutch reconstruction budget. We are particularly interested in the arrangements made between the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the World Bank. For example, who decides how the money from the Trust Fund will be spent? How are projects selected for funding? And what kind of safeguards have been put in place to ensure that the money is spent in the right way? These are all questions we will be seeking to answer.

We will also look at the practical consequences of these arrangements for specific reconstruction objectives and the projects associated with them.

The audit will be conducted as a focus audit. This means that this audit will have a short lead time and will consist of a factual description of the situation without any conclusions or recommendations.

Scheduled date of publication: December 13, 2018