The lack of overview of the money that the outgoing cabinet spent to combat the corona crisis is worrying several parties. In the accountability debate, the House points to the more than 5 billion euros that VWS unlawfully spent during the corona crisis, according to the Court of Audit, for example because it is not clear whether all purchased items have actually been delivered. “In the midst of a crisis, that is still quite explainable,” explains VVD MP Heinen. But: “I assume that the Minister of Finance has now set up a project to find out after all. It is a matter of calling healthcare institutions and counting devices.”
According to SP MP Alkaya, it also affects the functioning of the House: “What I blame the government is that the accounting and organization were so not in order that we as MPs can no longer even check afterwards whether too much has been bought. and whether too much has been paid, because there is simply no receipts or no proof.”
590 million euros
Prime Minister Rutte states that the really major problems in the financial management of VWS do not concern the more than 5 billion euros that the Court of Audit mentions. The Prime Minister says that this mainly comes down to almost 600 million euros, which the ministry must explain. According to him, a large part of the problem billions lies in not informing parliament in time. The image that there are no receipts for billions of expenditure is not correct, according to him, that applies to 590 million euros that was spent on, for example, testing, protective equipment and respiratory equipment: “That is not properly registered.”
Minister Hoekstra (Finance) also points to the context that ‘the need was literally over’ during the corona crisis. “I don’t want to take anything away from taking it seriously,” says the minister. But he also points to the large number of people inside and outside the House who are calling on the cabinet to buy all the tests and protective equipment that could be bought.
Nevertheless, several parties come up with proposals to put things in order. D66 MP Sneller wants the ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport and Defence, which received the hardest blow from the Court of Audit, to report to the House several times in the coming year on how their problems are being solved. CDA MP Van Dijk wants the financial management departments of all ministries to be examined.
The House is also critical of the jungle of tax regulations, of which in many cases it is not clear whether they work at all. Several parties agree with the criticism of the Court of Audit, which investigated all tax measures. “Every time the observation was that the objectives are vague, the substantiation is lacking, the result is unclear and evaluations are rare,” was the hard conclusion.
“That’s tough,” says PvdD MP Van Raan about the verdict. And CU Member of Parliament Grinwis sees that this is certainly not the first time: “The Court of Audit’s conclusions have been the same for twenty years.”
Several parties therefore propose on Wednesday, during the debate on the financial accountability of the outgoing cabinet for 2020, to cut the tax regulations considerably, as the Court of Audit also proposes. PvdA MP Nijboer also foresees a positive effect of this in getting the accounts in order: “Can’t pruning tax regulations help?”
Hoekstra cordially invites critics to think about a solution for this: “The shortest way to do something about it is to participate in the formation, that sort of things are discussed there.”