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‘Abuse of subsidies in Zuidoost’

15 October 2006 – In Zuidoost, politicians award subsidies to associations that they are involved in themselves, the Volkskrant concludes from an investigation. Politicians seem to use subsidies to buy political support.

Prominent members of the Social-Democrat PvdA play a key role in awarding and receiving subsidies. These members include André Bhola, chairman of the district council and until the end of last year chairman of the Anand Joti foundation, and Roy Hofwijks, director of the PEWA foundation. The PvdA has an absolute majority in the Zuidoost district council.

As a council member, Bhola would have repeatedly made funds available for social welfare purposes, only to quickly apply for a subsidy as chairman of Anand Joti. Incidentally, Bhola told News from Amsterdam in July that he had resigned as chairman of Anand Joti, partly in order to avoid the semblance of a conflict of interests.

According to the Volkskrant, three members of the PvdA-committee that selected the candidates for the district council elections of last March would have received subsidies. According to ‘critical PvdA-members’, their task would have been to make sure that the present district chairwoman, Elvira Sweet (photo), would be selected to head the list.

Sweet had been convicted twice for drinking and driving. Because of her criminal record, she did not meet the criteria to be included in the list of candidates.

The article further states that associations often fail to properly give account of what has been done with the subsidies they have received. Last February, the municipal Accounting Office published a report that showed that the districts do not really know what happens with the subsidies they award.

The Rekenkamer investigation concluded that the quality of subsidy accounting practices in Zuidoost is average in comparison with other districts. However, this judgement was based on the situation ‘on paper’ and not on a study of how the policies are actually carried out.

In a response to the Volkskrant article, PvdA Zuidoost party leader Lourens Burgers says that the article contains old news and that the newspaper wrongly suggests that key figures would personally benefit from subsidies awarded to their associations.

He further suggests that the Volkskrant would have a racist motive to specifically target politicians of Surinamese descent.


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