Like his former boss this morning, former payment director Gerard Blankestijn is blaming the Payment Affair mainly with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. That department made the policy and the Tax Administration implemented it, said Blankestijn before the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry Child Care Supplement.
In the payment affair, parents who were often mistakenly regarded as fraudsters had to deal with an all-or-nothing approach. As a result, parents who had paid too little or no own childcare allowance had to reimburse that contribution and refund all the allowance received.
Host parent offices or childcare companies, which were often the culprit, could not be held liable. This led parents to pay tens of thousands of euros and often get into trouble.
“ The legislation belongs to SZW,” says Blankestijn. “Thats the client.” To the question whether the former director is not making himself small (“You were high in the tree, right?”), he replies: “In that case, I am also small, I am unable to change that law.”
In the fight against fraud, the Tax Administration went beyond the established policy, says Leijten parliament to him:
Blankestijn, who was director of surcharges between 2011 and 2018, admits that mistakes have been made in the fight against fraud. “That hurts, that has caused a lot of suffering.” But at the same time, he says that the pressure on the service was great to deal with fraud.
This had to do with, among other things, the Bulgarian fraud that took place in 2013, and that affair around rental and health surcharges was then Secretary of State Frans Weekers almost politically fatal. In an “emotional” conversation with several hundred employees of the Service Fees, Weekers made it clear that “everything” had to be put in order to avoid repetition. “Something had to happen, everyone felt very firmly.”
Put away as stupid
The department of Blankestijn felt like “stupid”. “We had paid Bulgarians with our eyes closed. In short, the pressure was very high.” In the aftermath, new employees were hired to carry out more checks.
That cost money, and that money had to be recouped, Blankestine explained. “Departments sometimes got worried when the proceeds didnt seem to be achieved.”
According to the former director, mistakes have been made in the fight against fraud, causing serious damage to parents. This was due, among other things, to the need for a new approach to fraud. For example, there were no written work instructions yet. “The ship still had to sail, while it was not finished. This is not to condone it, but to explain it.”
The Committee of Inquiry also wanted to know from the former director how he looks at an opinion from a legal assistant who was heard yesterday. That employee, Sandra Palmen, warned the leadership of the Tax Administration in 2017.
“ How has it been possible to stop the surcharge for 300 citizens in this way?”, she wrote about a specific case. “How has it been possible to conduct research without working instructions?” According to Palmen, nothing happened to her memo.
Blankestijn opposed this today, to the astonishment of committee members. “We have learned lessons from that,” said the former director. And, “We have involved it in this case.” Blankestijn does not know why it was not involved in other matters that also played at the time, because that was discussed in a “other club”.
At the end of the interrogation, which ended considerably, Blankestijn himself wanted to comment on the fact that customization is impossible as it is now arranged. “Every month, 8 million people have to get their money. Its a factory process.”