Pension fund acknowledges problems with dossiersPOSTED: 06/22/16 9:37 PM
Pension fund chairman Harald Linkels. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / Janita Monna
“Embezzlement? I absolutely do not recognize that”
KRALENDIJK – “Embezzlement? I absolutely do not recognize that. If the situation was really as bad as 50Plus pretends, I would have expected protesting people in front of our office,” Harald Linkels, chairman of the Foundation Pension Fund Caribbean Netherlands (PCN) told Janita Monna of Caribisch Netwerk.
During the past week, PCN was in the news in the Netherlands in a negative way. Civil servants in Bonaire, Saba and Statia are members of this pension fund. Jan Nagel, a senator for the seniors’ party 50Plus sounded the alarm: “Millions in pensions have disappeared.” Around 300 civil servants allegedly lost the pension that they built up since 10-10-10. “Embezzlement,” Nagel said.
PCN distances itself from that remark, though the pension fund acknowledges that there are problems with several hundreds of dossiers. “But the seriousness of these problems varies wildly. Sometimes a date of birth is not correct, or somebody appears to have started working in March while he was only registered at the pension fund in June. And there are a couple of extreme cases whereby someone lost a couple of pension years,” Linkels says.
The problems arose on 10-10-10 when the responsibility for the pensions of civil servants on the three islands was transferred from the general pension fund for the Netherlands Antilles (Apna) to PCN.
Linkels: “In 2013 we received the dossiers and we have analyzed them one by one. This is not only a problem of PCN or Apna, but also of the employers. If they did not register their employees properly at the time, then they are not recorded correctly in the administration.”
The problems are the most serious in Statia, while Bonaire has everything in order. Linkels illustrates this with the example of a Bonairean teacher: “She moved to St. Maarten, worked there for one year, and then came back. She should have been registered again with Apna, but that did not happen. This way she would miss seventeen pension years. But Bonaire – then still an island territory – has recorded everything correctly and now her dossier is in order again. Unfortunately, there are also places where this is not the case.”
Finding the correct information takes time. “Look here, those public entities, you can go there and search the salary administration. But when somebody has worked for the country Netherlands Antilles and does not have salary slips or something else to prove this, the problem is much larger. You have to consider that this is about building up pensions. Sometimes we research what happened 20 or 35 years ago in a certain dossier. Then you are talking about the period before computers; sometimes you need a salary card from 1973.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs is aware of what is going on, Linkels says. “This has been known for quite some time. I absolutely do not want to downplay the problems for individuals, but PCN has always been open. The pension fund is under the microscope of the Dutch National Bank and they are very strict. The complete pension administration is done in the Netherlands. This is really due to the dismantling of a country and its institutions.”
How Nagel knows that millions have disappeared is unclear to Linkels. “If the pensions have not even been established, you also do not know what the claim could be. But this does not have the magnitude that has been suggested.”