Sunday , July 3 2022

Joint Audit Chamber likely to be adopted by island Council

The Daily herald writes that the proposal for the Joint Audit Chamber Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be handled by the Island Council (IC) in a public session today, Friday, and it is expected to be adopted with some reservations from council members. The proposal was already discussed in Tuesday’s Central Committee (CC) meeting. Despite delays of over one-and-a-half years in its adoption, the island legislatives of the three islands are required to do so by the WolBES. Saba’s objections are reflected in the proposal and the IC is expected to request that the BZK minister change the WolBES article 95 as it believes an Audit Committee would better serve the island. IC Registrar Akilah Levenstone read the proposal regulation within the CC meeting.

During deliberations Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM) councilman Carl Buncamper highlighted that Saba’s IC “gladly welcomes the audit function as a tool for us to help regulate.” He recommended that a study be done first if it is even possible for the audit function to be done jointly, or even if there is enough policy to guide the proper execution of such tasks. Buncamper believes that an island audit committee should have the equal function to that of a European Netherlands’ municipality and that it would be a “more desirable model for the audit function,” based on local needs. He also expressed reservations about the version of the document now submitted as it appears it is not the same version as that voted by Bonaire’s IC, on which amendments were made.

The major point of contention is the article concerning the cost-sharing for the Joint Audit Chamber to be covered by the three public entities. The Bonaire-favoured approach has the cost sharing calculation pegged to the free remittance. If calculated per capita as Saba and St. Eustatius lobbied for the same amount of funds would be provided, but with a larger share covered by Bonaire. Buncamper argued that Saba does not need to respect the interpretation given at this time, noting that even the BZK expert could not clarify this aspect. The per capita calculation would reduce Saba’s contribution by about 50 per cent. Saba Labour Party opposition leader Ishmael Levenston, a veteran Saba politician, quoted his grandmother saying “if the Dutchmen like fish, give them fish” and he called on Saba’s politicians to bring “all hands on deck” and move the agenda forward, protecting Saba’s interests. He lamented the absence of two WIPM council members, underlining that his presence in the meeting and his collaboration allows the executive to move the agenda. He reminisced about such cooperation with former WIPM politician Will Johnson while both travelled to The Hague. As the most senior serving councilman he counselled the executive to use personal contacts in their strategy of having Saba’s position heard by the ministry. He called on the influence of multi-generational political families on the island supporting common agendas. WIPM chairman Rolando Wilson expressed his gratitude for the SLP councilman’s support.

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