The Hague – The government in The Hague has been greatly embarrassed by its own Government Commissioners on St. Eustatius. The so-called Interim Government appears to have awarded government contracts to civil servants;something which is against applicable laws.
In response to questions from the editors of BES-Reporter and Koninkrijksrelaties.nu, State Secretary Raymond Knops of Kingdom Relations informed the Second Chamber today of the violations of local government stipulations.
Instructions to Franco
Knops subsequently has instructed government commissioner Mike Franco to comply with the legal provisions in the future. “For future work from the government, it will be ensured companies owned by civil servants no longer participate in the tender,” Knops said. “I also asked the government commissioner to make an inventory of all public sector officials with additional activities. and on the basis of that analysis, a review of the policy in respect of ancillary activities will be carried out in consultation with me, and I will also ask both other public bodies to also provide me with their experiences with ancillary activities of civil servants.”
The reason for the editors to ask the ministry questions about possible conflicts of interest was the signing by government commissioner Mervyn Stegers of the assignment for the construction of the Emergency Operations Center on St. Eustatius by the local construction company ‘Do-it Right’ Construction, of which owner Winston Fleming is a Government employee.
More incidents than one
The incident does not stand on its own. A review by the Ministry has revealed that 3 other civil servants with their own company have carried out a total of 13 assignments in repairing homes damaged by the hurricanes. Knops does not exclude that in the future in exceptional situations the awarding of an assignment to an official is unavoidable, because there are no other providers. “For that reason I am checking whether the existing regulations are sufficiently tailored to the small scale of the islands. I will inform you about the outcome”, according to the letter by Knops.
What makes the issue extra painful for The Hague is that the Executive Council and the Island Council were deposed in February for alleged integrity violations.