Commissioner of Finance, Bruce Zagers has presented a balanced budget to the Central Committee for their input. The 2012 budget totals an amount of $7,982,318. In the Memorie van Toelichting or Explanatory Memorandum it is stated that this budget completely reflects the new constitutional status, with all the relevant tasks that have been taken over by the Dutch Government totally organized and fully funded by the relevant agents within that entity. With this new budget government can begin the process of enhancing their long term planning and will continue their efforts for more efficient and timelier reporting to the Island Council and the CFT.
Vrije Uitkering (Free Remittance)
The Vrije Uitkering, which constitutes 87% of the income on the budget, is now set at almost 7 million dollars. It includes the social premiums for government workers, it also includes a structural increase for 2011, and also an additional indexation for 2012.
Issues with Vrije Uitkering
The government continues to have issues with the amount of Vrije Uitkering provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and have raised these issues several times with Minister Piet Hein Donner. Chief among these issues is the amount recommended by the Brinkman Report (a study issued by BZK) that did not materialize. The Ministry is once again requesting a new study a so called “referentiekader” which will set new guidelines for the amount of Vrije Uitkering. Additionally the amount of the indexation for 2012 has been based on the European model and not on the amount calculated by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics.
The government’s position on this is summarized in the Explanatory Memorandum and states:
“With the current level of the vrije uitkering Government is not fully able to produce a quality budget. This budget allows Government to strengthen their tasks a little bit more than in the past, maintain their properties at a minimum standard and introduce some new policies. But areas that are still lacking are training of personnel, backlog maintenance of government properties and the possibilities to build up reserves. “
Significant insight into the budget is presented with the allocation per sector as follows:
Policy for 2012
Included in this budget is some policy with the priority area being, the clearing of the backlog of maintenance and improvements to the island’s infrastructure with more than $260,000 being allocated to various projects. Organizations that provide social assistance and awareness will see a significant increase as well with just over $100,000 being allocated to various organizations on the island.
Control and Planning
For 2011 significant positive developments have been made in improving the financial management particularly when it comes to providing financial information. Key software upgrades have considerably increased the accuracy of the figures provided by the relevant departments especially with the implementation of an integrated personnel and salary administration system which directly links to the financial administration. This will solve a key issue discussed in the management letter of Ernst & Young. Government will work along with the accountant in 2012 to realize further improvements in the island’s financial management.