The Court finds it worrying that for the third year in a row, the governments financial administration is not in order. “If basic matters are not in order, how are you going to do complicated things?” This problem is also not solved for the time being, says President Arno Visser of the General Court of Auditors in Nieuwuur
Accountability Day is also known as “mince day” in The Hague and is always on the third Wednesday of May. During this day, ministries offer their annual financial reports to the House of Representatives. The General Court assesses this. More than 15 billion euros turned out to be improperly justified.
Minister Kaag of Finance acknowledged in the Chamber that things went wrong in cases where extra money was needed: “speed was sometimes at the expense of the usual and desired care.”
But that is not the only explanation according to Visser. Because only half of the unaccounted 15 billion was corona related. “But also for half that we can attribute to corona problems: things could have been different.”
The President of the Court believes that Dutch ministries “must be robust enough to cope with unexpected developments.” According to him, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has not kept things in order for seventeen years.
By the way, tolerance limits have been exceeded in ten ministries. The tolerance limit means that 99 percent of revenue, expenditure and liabilities should not be questioned whether they have been done lawfully.
Visser emphasizes how resented this is. “You have to comply with laws and regulations. If you dont stick to agreements, then youre not sure if youre paying a good amount for the right quality.” In the case of Defence, this could even result in the armed forces unable to be deployed because they do not have the right stuff in time.
“Problem not solved tomorrow”
So there is a structural problem, which has not been solved for the time being. Not with the extra money that is now being made available for some ministries, such as the Ministry of Defence, for example. “Its not good because of extra money. A lot of extra money for a club that is too small is only going to cause problems.”
Visser would like to see the extra money also spent on people who have to manage finances and do the tenders. The last decade has mainly seen cuts in that group of people, says the president.
Visser therefore expects that he will have to tell the same story next year. “I told the House of Representatives today that this problem did not arise yesterday, nor was it resolved tomorrow. But the day after tomorrow.”