Special Purpose Grants Awarded to the Caribbean Netherlands
Parliament receives incomplete or inadequately reliable information from the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and the Minister of Finance on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba’s use of special purpose grants. Moreover, there are shortcomings in Bonaire and St Eustatius’s supervision of and accountability for the special purpose grants they receive. Saba, however, accounts appropriately for its expenditure.
Audit findings: Poor insight into special purpose grants awarded to the BES islands
The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) has inadequately strengthened the coherence of central government policy in the Caribbean Netherlands and promoted the public bodies’ policy freedom. There are shortcomings in the supervision of the regularity, effectiveness and efficiency of the use of special purpose grants. The information the Ministers of BZK and Finance share with the House of Representatives cannot be traced, contains no details on the results achieved and cannot be reconciled with the information provided by the public bodies.
Why did we carry out this audit of special purpose grants awarded to the Caribbean Netherlands?
The House of Representatives asked us on 2 October 2019 to audit the special purpose grants that central government awards to the public bodies of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba (House of Representatives, 2019). The request explained that it was made in the light of a review of the relationship between the Ministry of BZK and the Caribbean Netherlands
What methods did we use in our audit?
The House of Representatives asked us the following audit questions:
- What is the Ministry of BZK’s status in the light of the minister’s (state secretary’s) responsibility for coordinating policy regarding the public bodies in the Caribbean Netherlands and for relations with them?
- What mechanisms have been put in place to supervise the regularity, efficiency and effectiveness of the special grants awarded under section 92 of the Public Bodies (Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba) Finances Act, including payments to develop agriculture?
- What is the quality of the information provided to the House of Representatives on these grants and payments, including information on the exercise of supervision?
To answer the audit questions, this report provides a reasoned, general picture of the special grants awarded since 2010, the context in which they were awarded and the regulation and performance of supervision. The picture is based on analyses of information requested and received about the special grants (including budgets, annual accounts and reports, decisions, internal policy documents, letters to parliament, etc.) and on interviews held for this audit with stakeholders at various ministries and the public bodies.
As the Ministries of BZK and Finance did not have an aggregate statement or accounts of the special grants awarded, we drew on three other sources to prepare such a statement ourselves:
a. information in the annual statements the Ministers of BZK and Finance shared with parliament;
b. information we requested from the ministries for this audit;
c. the annual accounts of the public bodies.
The audit report was published on Wednesday 23 June 2021.