Pensioners press St. Maarten government to seek equal pensions, healthcare level

POSTED: 06/10/11 1:59 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Senior Citizens and Pensioners Association has urged the Council of Ministers to work on equalizing pensions and healthcare. In order to press their point they submitted a petition to the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

The document calls for the government to take three actions. The first being that they denounce “ongoing (neo)colonialism of the Dutch Kingdom government in the Caribbean and the discriminatory development policy executed for more than three centuries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.” They also want the government to “denounce the unequal implementation of the right to development of the people in the Dutch Caribbean and of the people of St. Maarten in particular, which is still lagging behind compared to the development of the people of the Netherlands the Dutch territory in Europe.” The final action is a discussion with the Kingdom Council of Ministers on the human rights deficit that exists in the Kingdom.

The association states in their petition that the inequality in rights affects seniors and pensioners standard of living and their healthcare.

The principle complaint around standard of living is the fact that the pension here is 829 guilders ($450.56) while the pensions in the Netherlands are 1, 350 euro (1, 367). The principle complaints around healthcare is that the pensioners have suffered emotional stress and been denied care when doctors and pharmacists refused to accept FZOG and the PP cards and that both the quality of healthcare and the health insurance system are below what is offered in the Netherlands.

A similar petition was also presented to the President of Parliament on Monday. It calls for the Permanent Committee on Kingdom Relations and Inter-parliamentary Affairs to remember their pledge from earlier this year to table the issue of the unequal position of seniors in the Kingdom when they meet their colleagues from Aruba, Curacao and the Dutch States General – First and Second Chamber – at the Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom (POK) in the week of June 13.

The Dutch Representative in Philipsburg will be handed a copy of the petition on June 15 – World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day. Copies of the petition will also be sent to, amongst others, the Kingdom Government, the Dutch Government and States General, the Government and Government and Parliament of Curacao, the Government and Parliament of Aruba, the Island and Executive Councils of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the Parliament of Latin America and the Caribbean (Parlatino), the Confederation of Pensioners and Older Persons of Curacao the Pan-American Health Organization and the United Nations Commission on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.

Handing over the petitions is part of a broader effort to mark World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day. The Association is also planning to raise awareness through interviews on radio and in newspapers. They are also calling on the public to participate by reporting abuses against senior citizens.

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