PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten (Sunday, July 18, 2021) —For the first time, since the establishment of SZV ten (10) years ago, the organization has received the second-highest rating of an ‘Auditor’s Opinion’ on the financial statement. SZV received a “Qualified Opinion” for the 2020 financial statement, which was audited by the government audit bureau, StichtingOverheids Accountants Bureau (SOAB).
The auditor’s report emphasized compliments to SZV, for the increasing improvements over the years in the financial management of the social & health insurance funds. A step up from the ‘Disclaimer of Opinion’ received in previous years, indicating that the 2020 financial statement of SZV presents a fair representation of the organizations financial condition.
SZV Director Mr. Glen A. Carty, received SOAB’s report last week, and commented as follows; “Needless to say, I’m proud of the outcome of the SOAB audit of our 2020 financial statement. Receiving the ‘qualified opinion’ is an extremely important accomplishment for SZV. I’m thankful to our team of professionals who continue to work tirelessly so we can realize our goals. Over the years, we have faced many challenges in safeguarding the stability of the health care funds. A key element in the milestone we celebrate today and SZV’s future successes, is our partnership with the government, which has been strengthened through the cooperation with the Minister of VSA Mr. Omar Ottley and Minister of Finance Mr. Ardwell Irion. I’d like to thank the Ministers for not shying away from longstanding issues that needed to be addressed for SZV to improve its financial position, increase legal compliance and implement safeguards to our health care system. Without their result-driven and timely actions, SZV would be very limited in executing our tasks in the most complete manner. This commitment from our government partners has been a welcomed change for SZV and our stakeholders, but most importantly, our insured residents will be the biggest winners, gaining the security of quality and affordable health care options.”
The SOAB audit report includes several acknowledgments relating to the professionalism, transparency and cooperation of SZV; “We appreciate how forthcoming the SZV professionals have been. Because it became clear that the organization already has been contemplating various feasible actions, our discussions on possible recommendations were practical and efficient.” Automation of operations has been an important prerequisite for improving the organizations efficiency in financial management, reporting, improving service and introducing self-service client options. A pillar for tangible change outcomes, the mandate for automation, stems from the SZV 3.0 strategy implemented by Director Glen A. Carty in 2015.
The local impact of the pandemic pushed SZV to fast-track necessary automation changes that were delayed since 2017, due to Hurricane Irma. In 2020, SZV was able to realize the implementation of the new insured client portal “MySZV” and added new service requests to the Employer Portal. The latter becoming the online application platform for employers to request government Business Payroll Support, the financial aid response made available to companies who encountered hardships in keeping their employees on the payroll as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The execution of the program was entrusted to SZV by the Sint Maarten government, in part due to organizations agility in implementing the technology to carry out the program in the midst of the global health crisis.
“This is a really great achievement for us. I’m proud to see the result of our hard work, professionalism and embrace of technology reflected in the feedback of the auditor’s report. We are becoming a very data-driven organization, our automation journey is transforming the way we work from the inside out. This trajectory is helping us to become more self-reliant, as was acknowledged in the SOAB report. All of these developments, benefits not just SZV but strengthens our position to add more value to our health care landscape and to our government partners, locally and abroad.” – SZV Chief Financial Officer Mr. Elton Felisie
Noted in the auditor’s report, however, due to no fault of its own, is that the SZV has been implementing outdated social and health insurance legislations, posing a risk to the financial health of the funds and challenge in meeting legal compliance in some areas. As an executing body, with an advisory role, SZV has been proactive in drafting legislative changes that better reflect the current realities faced by the country, that are having adverse effects on the health care funds. It is only in recent years, that SZV has seen some progress in government collaboration to update the respective laws.
“I congratulate SZV on what is truly a milestone to be celebrated. SZV always hits the ground running and I’ve seen nothing but their sheer commitment to not only get things done, but to introduce innovative ways to transform our country’s health care system and access to it. The ability of SZV to execute its tasks in the most professional and compliant manner is a shared responsibility that I take very seriously. The matters brought to my attention by SZV, are primarily long-standing issues that require a more hands-on approach from the government as a partner. My goal is to ensure that we can finally address these issues with sustainable solutions. We’ve already started with several steps to update legislations to further implement new costs savings measures for the purchase of prescribed medications, access to the ZV medical insurance fund for persons 62+ and increasing the ZV wage limit as per January 1, 2022. The list is long, but each item that benefits our people and the generations to come, will have my dedicated interest.” – Minister of VSA Mr. Omar Ottley
The auditor’s report further comments; “…we also would like to emphasize the positive developments that SZV has shown in its aim to improve spending public means on public goals in the social domain of Sint Maarten.” Minister of Finance, Mr. Ardwell Irion, in his congratulatory statement to SZV shared; “The collaborations with Mr. Carty and his team have always been solution-oriented. One of the challenges in receiving the auditor’s ‘qualified opinion’ in the past, was contributed to the government debt to SZV. Despite the many challenges that the country has been facing, SZV has always been a team player with the government to support fair and balanced approaches in addressing financial issues. I’m proud to say that we are making more progress to resolve the related issues of government’s debt to SZV.”
There are four (4) types of Auditor’s Opinions, these are listed here from best to least favorable: unqualified opinion, qualified opinion, disclaimer of opinion and adverse opinion. SZV will make the condensed 2020 financial statement available on its website www.szv.sx in the coming weeks.