Published On: Fri, Jun 18th, 2021

Draft budget is “sloppy and full of grammatical mistakes”

PHILIPSBURG — The draft 2021 budget is sloppy and a step back “due to its many grammatical and legal-technical mistakes,” the Council of Advice writes in its analysis of the budget that is currently under discussion in the Central Committee of Parliament.

The Council notes that the objective to cut 12.5 percent of the labor conditions for civil servants has not been accomplished. According to the Council, the savings add up to just 4.8 percent.

The draft budget maintains that it has implemented the cuts for parliamentarians and ministers (25 percent) and for civil servants (12.5 percent).

For parliamentarians, this has been achieved by eliminating vacation allowances and by cuts in “transport fees, representation costs and a 10 percent cut in the net salaries.” A similar approach was chosen for ministers, with slightly different percentages.

According to the budget, the savings at the parliament amount to 966,312 guilders ($539,839) and for ministers to 466,886 guilders ($260,830). Savings from cuts in civil servants labor conditions represent 21.7 million guilders,

But the numbers listed in the regular budget seem to be telling a different story. For instance, the personnel cost for the parliament decreased by just 3.38 percent to 4,560,149 guilders. Vacation allowances were cut completely (savings: 130,439 guilders or $72,870 and several allowances were scrapped as well for a total of 353,485 guilders ($197,478). The contribution to the pension fund APS was cut by 10.3 percent.

On the other hand, the budget for travel and accommodation exploded from 50,000 to 189,854 guilders (roughly $106,000), an increase of 279.7 percent, representation costs go from 40,000 to 75,000 guilders (($41,900, plus 87.5 percent) and the costs for other goods and services double to 152,000 guilders ($84,916).

The costs for wachtgeld (reduced pay) for former officeholders increases by more than 124 percent to 1,171,099 guilders ($654,245) and pensions for former politicians have a price tag of 1,577,659 guilders (($881,373, up 3.46 percent).

Only the costs for support and the parliament griffie go down dramatically by 12.3 percent to a bit more than 1.2 million guilders ($670,391).

Other high councils of state present a mixed impression. For instance, at the Council of Advice and the Social Economic Council the salaries remain unchanged and at the General Audit Chamber salaries go down by 19.6 percent and allowances drop 88.6 percent.

The total for all high councils of state and the parliament show that salaries are cut by just 3.85 percent, vacation allowances are eliminated and the contribution to pension fund APS is cut by 22.3 percent. But the cost for travel and accommodation increases by 126.8 percent.

Taking the budget of the Minister of General Affairs as an example, we see there a salary increase of 21.2 percent, while the vacation allowance has been eliminated and allowances drop by almost 268 percent due to a negative entry of -31,288 guilders. Travel and accommodation costs for this ministry are slashed by 80 percent but the overall picture shows a decrease in personnel costs for the minister of just 4.73 percent.