The Governments of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius have to comply with certain quality standards by 2015. The government apparatus must have integrity, government’s financial household has to be in order and citizens have to become more involved. These goals are stated in the list of criteria that will be used to evaluate the functioning of the “public entity” status of the three islands five years after becoming part of the Dutch constellation on October 10, 2010.
The general WolBES that regulates the islands’ “public entity” status and the financial FINBES law stipulate that an evaluation has to take place five years after the transition date. Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies outlined the evaluation criteria recently in a letter to the Second and First Chambers of the Dutch Parliament. The WolBES and FINBES have transformed the public administration on the islands into a Dutch, dualistic model. “This has as goal to professionalise government to a high quality organisation: integrity with fewer conflicts of interest, optimal involvement of citizens and a solid financial household,” stated Spies.
She named three areas that would be evaluated based on certain criteria: good governance, citizens’ participation and solid finances. The first two areas have to do with the WolBES and the last one with the FINBES. The evaluation will focus on both quality and quantity. The input of locally involved persons and institutions will be “crucial.”
“Good governance is characterised by a high level of professionalism, integrity, decisiveness and verifiability. Conflicts of interest ideally should be ruled out,” stated the Minister about the first of the three evaluation areas.
The indicators for good governance include the controlling function of the Island Council; the executive function of the Executive Council; the separation between the Island Council, the Executive Council and the governmental apparatus; the authority of the Lt. Governor; the position of the National Government Representative (Rijksvertegenwoordiger); the administrative qualities of politicians; the quality and independence of the civil servant apparatus.
The indicators for citizens’ participation are media coverage, election and referenda turnout, participation in involvement procedures (inspraakprocedures), requests for information, the number of formal complaints and the turnout of citizens at Island Council meetings.
The indicators for solid finances include decent finances based on democratic decision-taking; the budget process; vigilant handling of decisions with financial consequences, including monetary loans and liquidity problems; cooperation with the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT; the use of the authority to level local taxes; quality of politicians and the civil servant apparatus in the area of finances; the size and setup (adequacy) of the BES fund; the islands’ policy to generate own funds; indicating the financial consequences of the Dutch Government policies.