P R E S S R E L E A S E
Focus audit: Sint Maarten Stimulus and Support Program (SSRP) for 2020
Philipsburg – The General Audit Chamber submitted its report entitled “Focus audit: Sint Maarten Stimulus and Support Program (SSRP) for 2020.” The Audit Chamber issued its report based on research into the program’s implementation. The SSRP, its legal basis, the internal organization of the program, as well as its responsibilities and accountability structure, are described in the report. In addition, the report provides insight into the financial situation of the SSRP for the year 2020.
How the SSRP addressed COVID-19’s impact on the local economy, and how accountability for the program is accomplished, were the main questions the Audit Chamber sought to answer with this audit. Answering the questions proved challenging due to a lack of information and lackluster cooperation during the (initial) research phase.
Considering that the Government chose to specifically define the oversight of the Audit Chamber in the Temporary Regulation governing (the business payroll support element of) the SSRP, the inadequacy of data is both puzzling and regrettable. Given the significant public expenditure associated with the SSRP, disclosure of information on financial accountability is both logical and necessary.
The Audit Chamber could not determine whether all financial reporting requirements were met based on the information received from government. However, the Audit Chamber reports that an additional layer of accountability, created because of mutual agreements with the Kingdom Council of Ministers, is in place. While the Audit Chamber was not provided with comprehensive information, Government provides monthly reports to the Kingdom Council of Ministers for at least three separate topics (the progress, foreign currency reserves at the Central Bank of Curaçao & Sint Maarten, as well as the implementation of the auditor’s recommendations).
The absence of information also made it difficult to render an opinion regarding the achievement of the SSRP’s primary objective. Although anecdotally, massive layoffs appear to have been avoided, a program that was initially supposed to be short-lived continued in 2021.
In its report, the Audit Chamber identifies several areas of interest on which Government should focus; improvement of reporting on actual expenditures for SSRP components, trend analysis to gain insight in the program’s effectiveness, availability of data, and definition of the roles of Ministers involved in the program.
Wherever possible, links contained in the report reference a source document. Readers are welcome to explore the subject matter further or to consult the public source document.
The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).