Former Island Council Registrar does not recommend execution of an Council Survey

KRALENDIJK – Former registrar of the Island Council of the Public Entity Bonaire, Willem Cecilia, does not think it is appropriate to conduct a so called Island Council Survey to investigate the administrative integrity with regard to the issue of permits and enforcement of existing regulations.

“Too heavy an instrument,” he feels. According to Cecilia, the Island Council can have investigations carried out in the performance of its supervisory duties pursuant to Article 160 of the Public Entities Act Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. It is a powerful and important instrument, a full fledged investigation by the Council, also referred to as a council survey.

Cecilia is of the opinion that the instrument should not be used ‘just like that’. “Before such an investigation can be executed, the Island Legislative Council must lay down further regulations with regard to this type of investigation, must make this generally known through the promulgation sheet of the public body of Bonaire, and must obtain the passive approval of both the Island Governor and the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. This already is an indication that this path should not be taken lightly,” says Cecilia. Cecilia also points out that funds must be reserved for research and this can usually only be done by budget amendment, which will also take time.

Cecilia also points out that the powers and activities of the committee of inquiry to be established will not be suspended by the resignation of the Island Council. New members should be appointed after the elections to ensure continuity of work.

According to Cecilia, a council investigation should only be initiated when there is an event or situation with a major financial and social impact for the island. Cecilia mentions as examples the budget overrun of a large project, or a strong suspicion of incorrect or non-informing of the Island Council.

Cecilia is also of the opinion that there are other instruments that can be used in this case before resorting to the instrument of the Board investigation. “First, questions should have been asked, such as how many complaints about violations of integrity, whether or not the lieutenant governor, as guardian of administrative integrity, had been received. Are there hard facts available that the Executive Council has withheld certain information regarding integrity?” Cecilia wonders. Cecilia would also like to know, for example, what the state of affairs is with regard to the integrity policy of the local government. Cecilia points to the case of the transfer files of Bonaire Holding Maatschappij (BHM), for which additional fact-finding investigations were carried out by Governance & Integrity International (G&I) in 2020. Cecilia is amazed why the Island Council has not followed this path.

Regular Committee

Before deciding to further roll out this instrument, Cecilia advises the Island Council to first establish a regular committee that will conduct a fact-finding investigation, after which the Council is advised by this committee whether or not to initiate a council survey. This committee can then prepare the precise research questions and indicate the correct demarcations and propose a draft regulation. Cecilia ends his analysis by stating that what has now happened is premature and short-sighted.

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