THE HEAGUE–Top civil servant Henk Brons has volunteered to repay part of the foreign compensation he received for his work as Dutch Representative in Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten while holding a position as Acting Director of Kingdom Relations of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations and living in the Netherlands.
Brons, who was the Dutch Representative in the Dutch Caribbean countries between January 1, 2015, and July 1, 2018, received a compensation of more than 41,000 euros. However, he only spent 18 days at his job in Curaçao, because in the last nine months of this period he had another job at the BZK Ministry in The Hague.
“I don’t want to benefit in any way, even though this was unintentional and legal, from the choices that were made by the employer in executing agreements regarding labour conditions,” Brons stated in a declaration to his ministry.
Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren stated in a letter to the Dutch Parliament on Monday that Brons’ decision was much appreciated.
The Dutch government’s Audit Service ADR was asked to carry out an investigation following media reports about Brons’ royal compensation in November last year. The Audit Service investigated the regulation of the foreign compensation at the BZK Ministry. That investigation has been completed and Minister Ollongren sent the results to the Dutch Parliament.
According to the Audit Service, the foreign compensation regulation is fitting, but it is vulnerable. “Fitting because the regulation suffices in facilities for dispatched civil servants, but vulnerable because the regulation, and the way in which tailor-made agreements can be made, does not cater well to specific situations that often take place,” stated the minister. In Brons’ case, tailor-made agreements were needed because an acting director of Kingdom Relations was direly needed.
The ADR stated about the vulnerability of the regulation: “These civil servants did not choose for a position in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom and are faced with a situation that has a lot of consequences for their family, their further career and that of their partner. For the involved civil servants this can result in a relatively strong negotiation position. This can lead to tension between the space of the regulation and the tailor-made agreements.”
The ADR made a number of recommendations to prevent repeat situations. It would be better to come to an understanding about the career possibilities beforehand, so the civil servants do not have to worry about their career after their dispatch to the islands. Also, there need to be better checks and balances and more supervision on the execution of the regulation.
The Audit Service further advised harmonising the regulation of the BZK Ministry as much as possible with the existing regulation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has more experience with the different dispatch scenarios of its personnel working abroad at the embassies and consulates.
A last advice concerns the carrying-out of an additional investigation into 10 of the 17 cases of tailor-made agreements in the period 2011-2018. According to the Audit Service, there is insufficient motivation in 10 cases for deviating from the existing regulation. Without this motivation, the Audit Service cannot determine whether the regulation was correctly applied.
Minister Ollongren stated in her letter that all recommendations of the Audit Service will be taken over. “We regret that this situation evolved in the execution of tasks at the ministry.” She promised that the BZK Ministry’s dispatch regulation would be harmonised in a speedy manner with the one of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the same time, the BZK Ministry’s regulation will be applied more strictly, which will reduce tailor-made agreements.
Responsibilities, supervision and the design of the ministry’s organisation will be tightened, which will result in a recovery of the checks and balances. Also, an in-depth investigation will be carried out into the 10 tailor-made agreements, and where necessary, measures will be taken.
In regard to Brons’ case, Ollongren stated that she deplored that his integrity was questioned.
“The ADR report makes clear that he handled out of clear conscience. An employee has to trust that the employer bases itself on the correct legal grounds. We value the choice that the official made on his own initiative. We conclude that we can look towards the future and towards the work that there is to be done in the Kingdom. We are confident that we can continue the good cooperation,” Ollongren stated.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85141-top-dutch-official-offers-to-repay-part-compensation