Dutch Audit Chamber wants financial supervision evaluated

THE HAGUE–In the opinion of the Dutch General Audit Chamber it is high time for an evaluation of the financial supervision on the six Dutch Caribbean islands.

The Chamber was highly critical of the effectiveness of financial supervision, especially in light of the islands’ persistent financial problems. The criticism was voiced in a report regarding the 2017 Annual Account of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK which was submitted to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday.
The financial situations of the autonomous countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, and of the Dutch public entities Bonaire and St. Eustatius, have the Audit Chamber very worried. The exception was Saba, which was said to have a “decent financial household.”

“Considering the deteriorated financial situation on most islands and the low quality of financial management, one can question the effectiveness of financial supervision. This does not only relate to the functioning of the Committees for Financial Supervision CFT, but also the handling of and the coordination with other involved parties,” the Audit Chamber stated in its report regarding the 2017 Kingdom Relations and BES Fund Annual Account (BES referring to Bonaire, Statia and Saba).

Government’s financial controller advised the Dutch government to evaluate the financial supervision imposed on all six islands and to take measures to increase its effectiveness if deemed necessary based on the evaluation.

The Audit Chamber did not show much confidence in the BZK Ministry’s approach as to the financial supervision tool. Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren stated in the 2017 Annual Account that she respected the Audit Chamber’s recommendations.

She agreed that the financial supervision in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba could be better. “Experience has shown that the islands are having a hard time developing and implementing good financial management, especially when there are so many changes of government,” Ollongren stated.

She confirmed that the financial supervision on Curaçao and St. Maarten was a constant point of attention for the CFT and the Kingdom Council of Ministers. Consultations are ongoing with the Aruba government regarding the format of continued supervision on the country’s extremely worrisome finances.
However, the Audit Chamber deemed this insufficient. “The mentioned actions do not give content to our recommendations. We doubt whether these actions are sufficient to address the persistent problems regarding the islands’ financial situation and the financial management.”

The Audit Chamber mentioned another painful matter in its report: the deficient information technology (IT) system of the National Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN which serves Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. For four years, the RCN failed to sufficiently protect the data of residents and other information.

The security of RCN’s IT systems was so bad that the General Audit Chamber decided to mention it. Audit Chamber President Arno Visser explained that it concerned the security of information. “Let’s put it this way: we found a back door that was unlocked and which had been ajar for quite a while.”

Data were insufficiently scrambled or poorly protected with passwords. “This created a risk that people with bad intentions could gain access to the IT systems, to view, steal and manipulate the information.”

The issue has been solved in the meantime. In response to the Audit Chamber’s demand for an action plan on short notice, Ollongren has indicated what measures have been taken to better protect the IT at the RCN.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/76668-dutch-audit-chamber-wants-financial-supervision-evaluated