Editorial: Welfare

POSTED: 06/13/14 11:19 AM

Minister de Weever’s announcement about the indexation of welfare payments comes at an appropriate moment – days before seniors mark the World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day this Sunday.

Financial aid from the government, combined with the old age pension will never exceed the minimum wage, we learned yesterday.

This means that based on the minimum wage of 8.56 guilders per hour the monthly income for citizens depending on financial aid will never be higher than 1,484 guilders ($828.90) before taxes.

The discussion ought to be about this number. Is it sufficient for someone to survive? Will this money do to pay rent, utilities, clothing, food and transportation?

We all know that the cost of living in St. Maarten is high and one of the reasons for it is the failure to collect taxes properly. Citizens at the bottom of the pile are paying the price for this malfunctioning system, because they are squeezed and forced to live below the poverty line.

The argument is simple: if the government collects more taxes there is more money to support those who really need it. Indexation of welfare payments is nice, but it ought to be the start of a broader debate to this issue.

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