NCA audit on special grant payments to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba
The Netherlands Court of Audit recently started an audit on the special grants provided by the Dutch central government to the public bodies of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
The islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES islands) are public bodies of the Netherlands, resembling municipalities. Together they form what is known as the ‘Caribbean Netherlands’. The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for coordinating government policy regarding the three public bodies.
Why are we conducting this audit?
This audit was initiated in response to a request from the House of Representatives to audit the special grants provided to the public bodies in the Dutch Caribbean under article 92 of the Finances of Public Entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Act (FinBES).
The special grants that Dutch ministries are entitled to reward, form a supplement to the ‘untied payments’ from the BES Fund that resemble the payments received by Dutch municipalities in Europe from the Municipalities Fund. These grants consist of payments that the public bodies in question receive from the Dutch government and which they are obliged to spend on certain specified purposes, as is the case with the specific-purpose grants received by Dutch municipalities in the European part of the Netherlands.
On 12 November 2019, we accepted the request and informed the President of the House that we would be initiating an audit into the special grants. In addition to answering the audit questions posed by the House of Representatives, we will also be looking in-depth and in-situ into one or more of these grants.
What are the audit questions?
The request made by the House of Representatives centred on the regularity (i.e. lawfulness) and efficacy of the way in which the special grants received by Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba from the Dutch government are managed. The House of Representatives asked us to answer the following questions:
- What mechanism has been put in place for supervising the special grants awarded to the public bodies in the Dutch Caribbean under article 92 of the Financing of Public Entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Act (FinBES) in order to ensure that they are spent in a lawful and effective way, including payments made to foster the development of the agricultural sector?
- What is the quality of the information presented to the House of Representatives on these grants and payments, including on the way in which supervision is exercised?
- What is the status of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, in the light of the Minister’s responsibility for coordinating government policy regarding the public bodies in the Caribbean Netherlands and for relations with them?