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‘ZuiderAmstel council not given incorrect information’

12 October 2007 - District chairman Duco Adema (PvdA) denies having given the ZuiderAmstel district council incorrect information about the financial risks of the Multi Functional Centre (MFC). The Accounting Office accuses him of quibbling.

The Accounting Office concludes that the district has been far too optimistic about the financial risks of the MFC, a building for schools and social welfare organisations. In addition, the council would have been given inadequate information about this project. Regarding the exploitation of a car park in the building, the council would even have been given incorrect information.

A Deloitte advice, which was not sent to the council, estimated that at most thirty percent of the parking places would be rented out commercially. However, the district wrote to the council that it was expected that seventy percent would be rented out. By 2006, it became clear that not one parking space has been rented out yet.

The Accounting Office calculated that the district can expect to miss out on 600,000 euro, rather than the 187,000 euro the council was led to believe, as a result.

Adema acknowledges that not informing the council about the Deloitte prognosis was ‘careless and regrettable’. However, he denies having given the council incorrect information. When he wrote that seventy percent would be rented out according to the business plan, he did not refer to the Deloitte advice, but to a text written by the administration itself on the basis of that advice, Adema told News from Amsterdam.

In a response, Accounting Office director Victor Eiff says Adema is quibbling. According to Eiff, the car park failure is illustrative of the ‘planning optimism’ of ZuiderAmstel with regard to the MFC. “The administration was very eager to carry out this plan and constantly emphasised the positive aspects”. It is now expected that the total deficit of the project will amount to one million euro.

Eiff does not see the MFC affair as an indication that districts are incapable of carrying out such large projects, as some say. He points out that ‘quite a few things have gone wrong’ with the North/South metro line, which is being constructed by the municipality.

Wanda Pelt (GroenLinks), one of the initiators of the Accounting Office investigation, blames the MFC problems partly on the political culture in ZuiderAmstel. The administration, headed by the powerful Adema, would act in an imperious way, whereas coalition parties would be ‘more bark than bite’.

Adema calls the reproach that his administration is imperious ‘remarkable’. He says he has met various of the council’s wishes. For example, he terminated the facility management contract awarded to ISS because of complaints about the company.

In response to the ISS problems, GroenLinks asked for socially responsible contracting guidelines. A policy paper on this issue was promised, but has not yet been written. Adema blames this partly on the fact that civil servants were busy answering questions from the Accounting Office.

Accounting Office, GroenLinks, district (all in Dutch), contracting policy


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