‘C’est comme ça!’ This is how we heard the stoic comment of minister Sven Gatz (Open-Vld) when a Flemish citizen of Brussels complained a few months ago about police officers in the capital who did not say a word. Some things can’t be done now, just to receive the minister. I wonder in his capacity as Secretary of Calculations Pale said to his associates when made comparable to review certain accounts because…
‘C’est comme ça!’ This is how we heard the stoic comment of minister Sven Gatz (Open-Vld) when a Flemish citizen of Brussels complained a few months ago about police officers in the capital who did not say a word. Some things can’t be done now, just to receive the minister.
I wonder, in his capacity as budget minister, Pale said to his staff when made comparable to review certain regional accounts because they were drafted too poorly. Speaking of an embarrassment… It wasn’t exactly a case of accounting nit-picking. An amount of 770 million has been incorrectly entered for 77,000. Directors who drive around in company cars should not be allowed to become them at all. The bills stood out for sloppiness. This can only be the result of a policy of tolerance. Otherwise there is amateurism, or worse complicity.
But according to Gatz, there is no maladministration. He shows up and said it wouldn’t happen again. There would be an internal investigation to prevent such errors from recurring. The confused accounts of organizations such as the Brussels fire brigade, Visit.Brussels or Parking.Brussels testify to ‘an impact that is too lossy’. The minister says he will see to it that in the future everyone will follow the rules. How he’s going to do that, he says won’t be there.
It is remarkable that no one had found it necessary to look at all the accounts with suspicion, before the Court of Audit got angry…
This week, the Brussels parliament must determine the budget. But if the administration does, and the minister’s employees don’t even notice millions, how reliable are the figures given to the representatives of the people of Brussels its turnover?
A journalist pointed out that the Flemish liberals have been managing the Brussels cents for a long time, since the previous minister, Guy Van Hengel (Open-Vld). It is not the first time that the Court of Audit has issued a bad report to the Brussels Region. No, it had nothing to do with a bad inheritance, Gatz knew. The Court of Audit may have also commented on the Brussels books in previous years, but this incident had nothing to do with the work of its progress. With the work of whom, one may wonder.
It’s to Gatz’s credit that he doesn’t want to pass the mistakes on to anyone. But that does mean that he admits that the fault lies with the administration he manages and that as a minister he has no VAT there. This has been planned since the creation of the Brussels Region. Just like the ministerial cabinets, which have relatively many more employees than those of the other, larger regions.
Prime Minister Vervoort employs 81 people, 37 more than his Flemish colleague Jambon, for five times fewer inhabitants. Sven Gatz has a court of just as many people as the Flemish Prime Minister.
Perhaps this is an academic question, but when is a minister actually for the work of his subordinates and associates? If problems, huge mistakes are not made at any time by highly skilled cabinets, there is one.
If one has to achieve it with the ultimate responsibility that goes with a minister, one must also have the ultimate responsibility that goes there. Gatz should have kept the credit and his rejection to Prime Minister Vervoort (PS). He could have prevented that, so that not only could Gatz have been prevented but his track could also have been red.
Moving on to Cuba
But Gatz has not been able to do even that, wishing Prime Minister had better things to do last week. At a time when everyone was reflecting on the climate crisis in Glasgow, Vervoort had left for Cuba on a full plane for a Belgian mission. He had gone there to find out about Cuban care and cultural policy. The Prime Minister knows his performance in no time!
While he enjoyed the Cuban climate, the image of his government and region took a beating. The damage is actually incalculable. This mess will stick. Any plea from Minister Gatz to tax commuters’ wages in the Brussels Region will be met with derision. Because who can imagine that Brussels’ financial problems have solutions, if men can’t control their own calculations? And who can take a plea for a different mobility in Brussels seriously if a minister allocates service cars to a series of directors with no legal basis whatsoever?
In a curious way, the French-language media reports little about this debacle. Gatz has consequences to thank for his political survival. He had a harder time on the Flemish side. The self-righteous in-crowd will once again be able to dismiss this as Flemish Brussels bashing. Who does the Brussels political class what, in their beautiful isolation?
After a silent ‘Oh pardon’, Gatz can continue as usual, with the blessing of Rudy Vervoort, his Prime Minister. When he returns from his Caribbean trip, he will comfort his finance minister after a pat on the back with his own words: ‘C’est comme ça’!