Finance Minister Hassink strikes back at Tuitt: “There wás no internal control department”

POSTED: 12/20/13 12:05 PM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister Martin Hassink shot down claims by his predecessor Roland Tuitt that he closed down the ministry’s internal control department when he took office this summer. “There was no internal control department,” Hassink said at the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing where he offered an extensive explanation about his priorities for the organization – this time without the title of a pop song.

Earlier this week, Tuitt launched what felt like a politically motivated attack on Hassink.

Hassink said that the government organization, across all ministries, performs thousands of transactions. “They are recorded in a subsystem and ultimately they will result in information. We want that information to be reliable,” he said.

The minister presented journalists with a schedule that shows how transactions flow through internal accounting control procedures, and several other control mechanisms, like the government Accountant Bureau Soab, the General audit Chamber, the Council of Ministers, the Financial supervisor Cft, the Council of Advice and the parliament.

All information must meet three criteria, Hassink said: “It must be there in a timely manner, it must be complete and it must be accurate. In terms of internal accountant procedures, there is still room for improvement. Too many people are signing off on the recording and registration of expenditures, while the revenue stream does not get enough attention.”

Due to budget restraint, Hassink added, he is forced to make choices. “Right now we are using capacity and resources to get rid of the backlog and to put the basis for proper information in place. That is more important than a fully established audit department at the moment. And, by the way, there was no such department when I took office.”

Once the backlog has been dealt with Hassink will use freefalling capacity for the internal audit department. “My focus is on strengthening the organization. That is my approach. It is not that I do not want an internal control department, or that I canceled it. I did not do that. There is still a lot of work to be done.”


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