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Defence Ministry chief to replace UWV boss

Published on 17/02/2004

17 February 2004

AMSTERDAM — The chief public servant at the Defence Ministry will be temporarily appointed head of the UWV as Social Minister Aart Jan de Geus wields the axe in a dispute over budget-breaching renovations at the social security agency’s Amsterdam office.

The renovations cost EUR 3.5 million, breaching a September 2003 estimate of EUR 1.9 million. An irate Minister De Geus demanded the resignations on Sunday of UWV chairman Tjibbe Joustra and the bureau’s deputy chairman, Pieter Cloo.

Both men flatly refused to resign on Monday as the UWV dismissed criticism of the renovation works and the bureau’s accountability.

But political sources in The Hague have since indicated that De Geus will impose his will on the UWV and appoint public servant Ton Annink as acting bureau chief for one month until a permanent replacement can be found, news agency ANP reported.

After serving from 1995-99 as the top public servant in the Interior Ministry, Annink, 50, was appointed defence secretary-general in 2002 and is presently managing economising measures within the ministry. He has been asked to maintain UWV continuity in the short-term, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

De Geus claimed the UWV budget breach was unacceptable for an agency which administers the WAO worker disability and WW unemployment benefits schemes. He also said Joustra gave incomplete and incorrect information in the past six months about the renovation costs.

De Geus commissioned an investigative report last year after MPs raised concern about the renovations to the UWV Amsterdam-Sloterdijk office. He had previously said that the UWV had followed regulations, but the report would remove any uncertainty.

And in presenting the report to the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, on Monday, the minister admitted that due to the actions of the Joustra and Cloo, he had given incorrect or incomplete information to MPs. De Geus said he did not intend to resign.

But Joustra denied the allegations, claiming on Radio 1 Journal that he had correctly informed the minister about the UWV’s relocation to Amsterdam. He said detailed figures — checked by accountants of the UWV and the ministry — had been supplied to the ministry.

The UWV was formed at the start of 2002 by a merger of the nation’s five social security organisations and pays benefits to about 1.2 million people. It claimed the renovations were necessary to create a new head office. It also said the office needed to be adequately impressive.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news