Call for more gov't transparency after childcare allowance affair
The childcare allowance scandal, in which hundreds of Dutch parents were wrongly labelled fraudsters and ended up in financial difficulties after having to repay their childcare allowance, underlines the need for more transparency from the government, coalition party D66 and opposition party GroenLinks said when submitting an amendment to their new law for more transparency, NOS reports.
The new law, the Open Government Act, is supposed to replace the current Government Information (Public Access) Act. It is a private member's bill previously submitted by GroenLinks and D66, which will be discussed in parliament on Tuesday. The Open Government Act could likely count on sufficient support in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, according to the broadcaster.
With this new amendment to their own law, the parties want to go even further. A major change is the establishment of a kind of ombudsman that journalists can turn to if requested information is not received, only partly received, or received much too late. The parties also want to arrange that all disclosed information ends up in one place. And that the law clearly states that Ministries must have their information management in order. That sounds obvious, but the childcare allowance scandal showed that if officials were able to find the requested documents, a lot of suffering could have been avoided, the parties said.
The D66 and GroenLinks wanted to add these points to the Open Government Act from the start, but worried that this would result in not enough support to get the bill passed. The recent report on the childcare allowance affair changed the political climate enough that they believe the stricter bill can now pass. "The allowance affair shows how important it is for society that the government's information management is good," GroenLinks MP Bart Snels said to NOS.
The committee that investigated the affair concluded that parents faced "unprecedented injustice" in this affair. The committee stated that "the information provision from the central government was insufficient", and that parliament was "repeatedly confronted with untimely, incomplete, and incorrect information".