Administrative, legal and financial bearings of the Delta Programme
After approval of the bill for the Delta Act by both the House of Representatives and the Senate (latter on 29 November 2011) the Delta Programme, Delta Fund and the position of the Delta Commissioner have legal status.
The Cabinet has appointed a government commissioner tasked with developing the Delta Programme: the Delta Programme Commissioner.
Every year, the Delta Commissioner submits a proposal for the Delta Programme. The Cabinet subsequently responds to his proposal. The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment (in the current Cabinet, the State Secretary) co-ordinates the Delta Programme and bears primary responsibility. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister are also involved.
Following approval by the Cabinet, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment presents the Delta Programme to parliament, together with his ministry’s budget.
The legal basis for the Delta Programme is provided by the Delta Bill. The draft act has been submitted to parliament but still awaits processing. The Delta Bill outlines the tasks and responsibilities of the Delta Commissioner and proposes a Delta Fund to manage the finances.
The Delta Act on flood safety and freshwater supply stipulates that a Delta Programme must be drawn up annually. The Delta Programme comprises plans and provisions to guarantee flood safety and a sufficient supply of freshwater, including the relevant planning and a (rough) cost estimate. The Delta Act further stipulates that the Delta Programme is to be presented to parliament every year on Prinsjesdag [the official opening of parliament in September], together with the budget of the ministry responsible.
In addition to the Delta Programme, the Delta Act also provides for a Delta Fund and the role of the Delta Commissioner. This constitutes a sound legal basis for our new long-term flood safety policy.
The Delta Programme is anchored in the Delta Act, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on 28 June 2011. The Senate adopted the Delta Act by common consent on 29 November 2011. This provides a legal basis for the Delta Programme, the Delta Fund and the Delta Commissioner. The expectation is that the Delta Act will enter into force on 1 January 2012.
A special government commissioner has been appointed for the Delta Programme. This underlines the importance the Cabinet attaches to the implementation of the Delta Programme. Securing our long-term protection against high water calls for a decisive approach and firm control. A Delta Commissioner may advise ministers and, if need be, urge them to intervene.
The Delta Commissioner is tasked with ensuring cohesion and progress in the Delta Programme. In addition, he must make sure that the various authorities are properly involved in the Delta Programme and take their responsibilities for the range of measures that need to be taken. Every year, the Delta Commissioner makes a proposal for the next Delta Programme. The Cabinet response to this proposal is presented with the official documents on Prinsjesdag, the opening of parliament on the third Tuesday in September.
The Delta Commissioner is positioned in the administrative field and falls under the political responsibility of the co-ordinating minister, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment. The first Delta Commissioner is Mr Wim Kuijken.
Money is needed to fund the measures and provisions required to ensure water safety. Our point of departure is that the burden is spread across the entire population of the Netherlands and across multiple generations (the solidarity principle). The Delta Bill proposes a separate fund for the finances involved in the Delta Programme: the Delta Fund. In this fund, money is set aside for the government investments required to implement measures such as the construction, improvement, management or maintenance of dikes or sand deposits along the coast (sand suppletion), but also to conduct research.
Up until 2020, all the money earmarked for water safety and freshwater supply is transferred from the Infrafonds to the Delta Fund. The additional policy agreement laid down by the previous Cabinet stipulates that with effect from 2020, the Delta Fund will be fed with a minimum of €1 billion a year in order to ensure momentum in the implementation of the Delta Programme.
The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment bears final responsibility for the expenditures under this fund.