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Editorial - No separate kingdoms

The General Audit Chamber's report on Bureau Telecommunications and Post (BTP) calls the situation there downright alarming (see related story). It is not the first time either that concern has been expressed over especially the financial management – or lack thereof – at this important institution.

The apparent lack of both external and internal control is all the more regrettable because it in effect regards a regulatory agency that is supposed to supervise other players in these two sectors. Moreover, the fact that government has not been able to secure the envisioned income from the bureau is in part related to the administrative shortcomings noted.

The Chamber is complexly correct in its assertion that the argument of the country still being in the build-up phase has to end already five years after 10-10-10. Remaining in non-compliance with the BTP law and refusing to view the mandatory performance contract, employment regulation, rules governing the Supervisory Board's operations and other documents as priority cannot be allowed to continue.

Unfortunately, two of the parties called on to act – the Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister and Parliament – are currently in a bit of a limbo due to the latest political developments and it might take a while before they are fully back on track. However, the director is the first party responsible to address the problems that are not exactly new and the board obviously has a role to play, although until now it reportedly lacks the necessary tools to do so in an optimal manner.

The report blames the Minister for not providing a vision for BTP, while legally required steps either don't occur or are taken very late. This failure is seen as a primary cause for arrears in payment transfers to the national treasury.

There has been a temporary arrangement for the latter since 2011, but it is not in keeping with the National Ordinance concerned. Also there is no evidence that the outsourcing of most projects and activities is done according to a public procurement system, while there is even the perception that possible conflicts of interest may exist.

While government-owned entities were placed "at arm's length" for a reason, the intention never could have been for them to be turned into some type of "separate kingdoms" that aren't held accountable by the elected representatives and the public administrators they appoint. Therefore, whoever occupies the TEATT Ministry in particular will clearly have their work cut out for them when it comes to BTP.

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