Deadlines. Ignored? Respected?

COHO deadlines came and went, says member of the opposition, Richard Arends, and we haven’t heard anything.

In his latest press release Arends says that reforms agreed on by GOA, on November 13th, 2020, were supposed to be presented in a plan-of-action, especially the introduction of a VAT, Value Added Tax, of 12 ½%.

GOA was also supposed to come up with a list of priorities to strengthen its financial situation and control expenses, also define the rolls of Central Audit and the Advisory Council, as well as a plan to optimize payment of taxes.

According to Arends, unfortunately, nothing has been said in parliament, or in public. And the questions are many, especially surrounding the VAT, how will it work for the importer, merchant and consumer.

Even other members of the coalition, are kept in the dark, Arends adds.

He wishes GOA would be more transparent and clear, and wishes that before doing anything, GOA would involve stakeholder, both parliament and the labor unions, especially when labor flexibility is discussed.

Flexibility in the labor market, has been conditioned by the Dutch and demanded by employers, and Arends is of the opinion that all plans have to be laid out cautiously and explained in advance, in order to reach consensus.

The issue of reform, Arends concludes is very complicated, and needs the participation of all social partners in order to achieve structural changes, long-term changes, not just stop gap measures.

Among deadlines past, for example, February 1st, then March 1st, then March 15th, and while MinPres reports every once in a while that changes are taking place the public is never informed of the details.

Examples? February 1st, was the deadline for the island’s annual budget presentation and we are still waiting. Talks are still ongoing, hopefully, about suggested cuts in the Care sector, and suggested savings in GOA’s wage bill, decided upon in 2018, are pending.

We’re seeing a lot of contradictory actions, Arends concludes, instead of economizing GOA augmented its payroll by Awg 8M.

His request: We would like more details about the future path and a commitment that GOA will adhere to its budget. Goa has no authority to make investments outside the budget, thus in election year, non-budgeted streets in need of asphalted must remain sandy, so that we are aligned with the LANDSPAKKET, under COHO’s financial supervision.

As a footnote, I am all pro maintenance. On a regular ongoing basis. Alas, nothing is maintained on the island and that is why GOA is now spending thousands to fix the paving on Plaza Betico Croes, in preparation for the March 18th display of splendor.

This last part of Arends’ request is of course hypocritical. As a member of the AVP party, his fellow-politicians funneled the majority of funds assigned in the budget to education, social affairs and care to fanfare, election propaganda, and self-serving projects.

By itself, the comment has merit, because on any given election year streets get asphalted in a rush, even in the remotest neighborhoods, in an effort to win votes.

The following is what AHATA says: The need for reform is high and the ambition is great, while the challenges are complex. It is important to be realistic as well as ambitious. Each item will be carefully analyzed to make the correct decisions for the future.

GOA was handed an agenda, with deadlines, and specific areas of improvements, but it is pretty general. Changes must take place in Financial Management, Cost and Effectiveness of Public Sector, Taxes, Financial Sector, Economic Tweaks, Care, Education, and Judicial System.

Before the first deadline on March 1st, GOA was supposed to review its financial management/policy of GOA and its departments, and discuss the roles of RvA, the Advisory Council, and General Audit Services. This meant they were to adapt laws to facilitate the strengthening of financial management and financial organization. That takes time.

I am just giving on example!

The task is huge, there is NO HANDBOOK. We need political will to undertake any new direction. Reform has to come from within, driven by insiders. And that is why the Dutch document is excellent but it will not make itself happen.

 

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March 13, 2021
Rona Coster