Letter: Abusers of social benefits should be severely punished

POSTED: 10/27/11 12:18 PM

Dear Editor,
In civil society there is a simple way to keep us (minimize us) from killing and trampling each other. This is done by sanctions which are attached to laws. “If I know I can do it without consequences (jail term is one), I will do it without remorse.” The problem with some laws is that the sanctions are so light or sometimes so insignificant that crimes are not deterred.
When I listened to the meeting on social aid and medical assistance it was clear that the abusers (a minority) of the system had the government coming with all kinds of measures, which were just punishing the majority which are well deserving citizens. Because of these abusers much too much, and unnecessary bureaucracy had been created. This too must be streamlined.
In the past it was common place that some “patients” were receiving cases of e.g. insulin which they were sending (selling) to friends and family “back home”. It is still common that Dutch passport holders from either side of the island abuse the system from both sides. This is overburdening the finances of both governments. Its unimaginable the amount of money that is (unnecessarily) being spent on medical care on Dutch St. Maarten.
Earlier this week I had an informal discussion with the Minister of public health, social development and labor about this and a few other issues, in which he indicated that the law states if someone is caught abusing the system, the only thing they can do is make the abuser pay back the money which they unlawfully received. My response was parliament has got to amend this law and implement harsh sanctions on the evildoers (illegal onderstandtrekkers, and others) through fines, seizing of property and even jail time if necessary. I left with a very positive impression of the minister and his approach to things. One thing is certain a minister can mean well, but if some of those “top civil servants” want to execute their own agendas, the public will always end up suffering, and the minister and politicians will get the blame. Our parliamentarians need to amend the laws in order for the evildoers to be punished so that those in need can be helped. Besides, and in addition, if those top civil servants are not willing to serve the public there must be consequences also.
Finaly, I must commend the parliamentarians on their questioning, and in the way they handled the meeting in general. The will of the people really got the attention it deserves. If we continue like this, avoiding some of the “disgusting eloquence”, the public will be well served.
I am looking forward to the meeting when the amendments will be put on the floor, and some proposals on how to handle these “wise” civil servants, that think they know it better than the politicians, but don’t have the gall to go on a list, will be handled.
We must not forget why we are there. Try to put our big egos aside and let’s try to serve especially the sick, unemployed, poor and the elderly and the common good.

Julian Rollocks
Former Commissioner of Economic affairs and Tourism

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