THE HAGUE–The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard has to cut cost in order to deal with its 3.05-million-euro deficit on the 2016 budget.
Dutch Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stated in a letter to the Dutch Parliament on April 21, that a series of measures will have to be taken at the Coast Guard to curb the deficit, which has been incurred as a result of the negative exchange rate of the euro and the US Dollar, as well as calculation differences.
The exchange rate problem falls outside the policy and management influence of the Ministries of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and Defence, and according to the budgetary regulations, the issue will have to be solved internally, explained Hennis-Plasschaert.
As such, the two ministries have arrived at a solution to curb the deficit. It was decided that 0.65 million euros could be saved without direct consequences for the operational deployment of the Coast Guard, meaning that this will not affect the number of days and hours that the ships and aircraft are available for operations.
The measures will have consequences for the cooperation with the partners in the justice sector, the managing by the countries and the quality/motivation of personnel. Promotions can only be executed in limited form, additional schooling will be eliminated and internal transfers will be restricted. Also, the educational plan for participation will be delayed.
Furthermore, there will be fewer financial means available for follow-up investigations where it regards integrity. Business travel and harbour visits will be limited. And, the cutters, the Coast Guard boats, will be utilised with one engine instead of two, which will cut the coats of gasoline and maintenance.
The BZK Ministry will finance 1 million euros from the Kingdom budget. The remaining 1.4 million will be covered from the investment funds that had been reserved in 2016 on the Kingdom budget to replace the interceptor capacity. These funds can be used, because the project will not lead to payment in 2016. Compensation will have to be found in 2016 for these funds.
Minister Hennis-Plasschaert warned that measures will be necessary which will affect the Coast Guard operations if no solution is found this year for the negative exchange rate difference. If the current negative exchange rate will continue to exist, it will also have an adverse effect on the operational deficit in 2017 of about 3 million euros. “A far-reaching re-dimension of the Coast Guard will be necessary if no structural solution is found,” she stated.
The Minister further noted that the participation of the Coast Guard in the project to improve the exchange of information among the partners in the justice sectors of the Dutch Caribbean countries with a central role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office was under pressure due to the necessary cost-cutting measures.
Hennis-Plasschaert’s letter accompanied the 2016 Annual Plan for the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard to the Dutch Parliament. The Second Chamber’s annual debate to discuss the Coast Guard budget and related policy. A date for this debate should be set during the procedural meeting scheduled for this Thursday. The Kingdom Council of Ministers has already approved the 2016 Annual Plan on March 11.
As usual, the Annual Plan has been drafted based on the (legal) tasks of the Coast Guard, the general policy frameworks, the priorities of the Judicial Policy Plan 2014-2017 and the policies of the countries that are involved in the Coast Guard, namely the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The four countries jointly cover the cost of the Coast Guard, with the Netherlands paying the largest contribution.