Minister Finance Perry Geerlings should answer to Parliament on travel costs-per diem-allowance of Dutch Police and World Bank Funds overhead/ travel
THE HAGUE:--- Dutch civil servants fly more and more luxuriously to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. The number of airline tickets to the BES islands has risen by more than 50 percent in five years. Half of the flight costs were spent last year on expensive business class tickets
In 2018, officials from Dutch ministries flew almost 1500 times to the special municipalities of the Netherlands: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. That cost more than 1.6 million euros. Half of that amount was spent on tickets for the luxury business class. Five years earlier, in 2014, that percentage was still 45 percent.
This is evident from data provided by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations following an appeal to the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob). In 2018 there were 227 relatively expensive trips per business class. There were 162 in 2014. In that year, a total of 1.1 million euros was spent on airline tickets to the Caribbean.
Civil servants are free to choose a business class ticket. In an explanation, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations states that "each ministry is individually responsible for approving missions to the Caribbean islands". If the flight time is six hours or more, civil servants may travel per business class.
Since 2010, the BES islands have been special municipalities in the Netherlands. Officials fly to the islands to supervise education, the police and infrastructure, among other things. The Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management and Defense spent the most money on airline tickets last year: more than 300,000 euros each. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only spent 825 euros on airline tickets.
The costs for hotels on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba have been fairly stable in the last five years. While 311,000 euros was spent in 2011 on hotel stays for civil servants on the BES islands, last year it was 295,000 euros.
When reading this article on the luxury travel of the Dutch Civil Servants has left many to wonder how much money the St Maarten Government is spending on travel while the Parliament are not addressing the expenditures and budget correctly. End of the day these same costs will be paid by the tax-payers. These luxury overhead costs should also be looked at and published from the World Bank funds for St. Maarten, especially since the recovery for which the money is intended for, is going at snail’s pace. This is a task now of the Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings to explain to parliament and the people as a condition to approving the expenditures in the 2019 budget.