Five years ago the Code Corporate Governance was introduced in the then Netherlands Antilles community. The purpose of this Code was to help the government regain the confidence of society in state-owned companies and foundations, and to increase the quality and integrity of the management of these institutions. During the Day of the Supervisory Board on Tuesday 17 November 2015, VANEPS, Bonaire Holding Maatschappij and The Galan Group evaluated the current situation regarding this topic in Bonaire.
The day was officially opened by Mr. Rijna, Lieutenant-Governor of the Public Body of Bonaire. In his introductory speech, Mr. Rijna stated that the Code Corporate Governance offers the structure for proper governance, but it doesn’t guarantee compliance in practice. The willingness of the people who have to do the work, the management and their supervisors, is the key factor. According to Mr. Rijna, the Day of the Supervisory Board makes an important contribution to the further improvement of the government and the supervision thereof.
Anthony Nicolaas, Legal Counsel of Bonaire Holding Maatschappij, gave those present his vision on the Corporate Governance Code. In his point of view, steps have been taken in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done. At present, not enough supervisors have been appointed at state-owned companies. On behalf of VANEPS, two attorneys gave their views: Frank Kunneman, senior partner and specialized in corporate governance, and Tom Peeters, head of the Bonaire office. Frank Kunneman addressed the steps that have to be taken to keep the Code up to date and practicable. It is important that a number of topics in Book 2 of the BES Civil Code, for example the right of investigation, will be actualized and that this legislation continues to be developed. Tom Peeters’ presentation focused on the question whether an agreement for is a luxury or a necessity. At the beginning of the presentation many participants indicated that they did not consider such an agreement to be a necessity. However, thhey were convinced otherwise during the presentation, as an agreement helps to determine the responsibilities of the supervisor and, consequently, for what issues he can be held liable.
The presentations were followed by a very lively discussion round with speakers Anthony Nicolaas and Frank Kunneman, Clark Abraham (Commissioner responsible for Government Corporations) and Gilbert Isabella (Kingdom Representative for the BES islands). The discussion was led by Robbert Kroon, Counsel Governance, Risk & Compliance at VANEPS and partner at The Galan Group. Following questions by the participants, there was a lively exchange of opinions on topics like the influence of the Public Entity of Bonaire on the decision-making process within government entities, the slowness of decision-making and possible solutions to improve communications.