Ombudsman issues Notice of Termination in Over the Bank (OTB) Systemic Investigation

October 13, 2022 4:55 pm

PHILIPSBURG, The Ombudsman recently informed the Minster of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI), Mr. Egbert J. Doran, that she has refrained from further investigating the process used to re-allocate parcels in OTB in accordance with the National Ordinance Ombudsman. The National Ordinance Ombudsman establishes that the Ombudsman is not authorized to initiate or continue an investigation if with regard to the conduct, an administrative, civil, or criminal procedure is in process, or an administrative decision was made. The Cabinet of the Minister informed the Ombudsman by email of 28 July 2022 that the government had filed a regular court procedure (‘bodemzaak’) on 26 July regarding the issuance of long lease rights in OTB. In earlier summary proceedings the court froze, by decision of 28 January 2022, all OTB long lease decisions.

Consequently, no conclusion or recommendation(s) have been provided by the Ombudsman. The file was closed by means of a notice of termination (NOT).

The findings of the investigation reveal that the lack of policy has given successive Ministers of VROMI discretion in how public domain has and is currently being distributed amongst applicants. Not codifying the process for the allocation of domain land into an actual policy reduces the accountability, transparency and objectivity of the processes/procedures used by the Ministry/Minister of VROMI when awarding public domain. This has been confirmed in the recent ruling of the court as well.

The findings of the investigation further reveal that there is a lack of continuity when there is a change in government, specifically as it pertains to allocation of domain land.

Pursuant to article 23 of the National Ordinance Ombudsman the Parliament has been provided with a copy of the notification of termination.

The report is available to the public via download on the Ombudsman’s website under the ‘reports and articles’ tab.