The Brussels parliament on Friday approved the recommendations of the Samusocial Commission with no opposing vote, while the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) and Belgian Workers Party (PTB) abstained. The 173-page document had been unanimously adopted a little over a month ago by the Samusocial Commission of Inquiry, based on conclusions drawn from 98 hours of hearings in summer 2017. It pinpointed shortcomings in the management of Samusocial that were out of proportion with the size of the non-profit body, which provides homeless persons with shelter and assistance. It also noted conflicts of interest, more in the ethical sense of the term than in the legal sense, and confusion in the roles of its former heads, Yvan Mayeur and Pascale Peraïta.
The report also criticized Samusocial’s subsidising bodies, slamming the Brussels Joint Community Commission for not taking the required measures following a damning report by the Financial Audit unit in 2013. It also found that the development of a management contract was blocked within the Government of Brussels and intimated that the Federal Government was not entirely blameless with regard to cooperation in the management of the body.
Ten of the report’s recommendations concerned the Samusocial, starting with a demand for the repayment of attendance allowances unduly received by board members and administrators, totaling 346, 360 euro. The report also called for the establishment of instruments that have thus far been non-existent in the agency, such as analytical accounting, proper human resources management, an inventory of donations in kind and an internal audit system.
Ten other recommendations relate to subsidies and controls, judged deficient: The Commission identified an absence of regulatory and human resources in this regard at the Joint Community Commission.
The overwhelming majority of parliamentarians welcomed the report and its recommendations. Expressing caution about the future, many stressed that this was just a start towards restoring the lost trust of citizens and reducing the number of homeless in Brussels.