Inquiry into purchase of material by government shows friction in legal framework
A recent inquiry by the acting Kingdom Representative (“waarnemend Rijksvertegenwoordiger”) into the purchase of material by the Public Entity Saba from a civil servant showed that there is friction within the current legal framework.
In February 2023, Acting Kingdom Representative Jan Helmond received a report from a Saba resident with regard to the purchase of material from an employee of the Public Entity Saba. It was argued that the purchase was in violation of a specific article of the decree that regulates the legal position of civil servants in the Caribbean Netherlands, “Rechtspositiebesluit ambtenaren BES”, which restricts the purchase by government of goods or services from a civil servant.
The acting Kingdom Representative made an inquiry at the Public Entity Saba. In its response, the Public Entity Saba confirmed that it indeed made the purchase, but that in doing so, government followed the internal procedure and acted prudently.
The fact is that imports are very expensive on Saba and that it is sometimes wiser from a cost perspective to purchase second-hand material that is already on the island. It should also be considered that a large part of the population works for government. This makes it hard to strictly maintain this specific regulation on Saba.
However, then State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed Dutch Parliament in July 2020, that the regulation in question must be strictly interpreted, as long as it is not adapted. The State Secretary also showed understanding for the context in Caribbean Netherlands and proposed to change the regulation for certain cases. So far, the regulation has not been amended, but it is being worked on, remarked the acting Kingdom Representative in his letter to Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.
In that legislation adaptation, the local background and the small scale of the islands will be taken into consideration. Acting Kingdom Representative Helmond stated that he had comprehension for the specific situation on Saba. He also took into consideration that the Public Entity Saba indicated that the internal decision-taking process took place in a prudent manner and conform the island regulations. Helmond did ask the Executive Council to strictly apply and interpret the specific article of the decree in future cases.