Platform wants another five years of AMFO financing

POSTED: 01/24/12 1:49 PM

St. Maarten – The three week old St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform is asking the Dutch government to extend the life of the Antillean Co-Financing Agency (AMFO) until 2017 and make 45 million guilders available annually for poverty reduction. AMFO was founded in 2002 with the aim of achieving a structural solution to poverty and social exclusion on the islands of the Netherlands Antilles with the Dutch government as the financier. That funding is scheduled to stop at the end of 2012, but platform chair Alberto Bute believes it needs to continue.
“The AMFO social development stoppage by December 2012 based on the agreement our government signed is a joke because poverty is not being addressed meaningfully. Don’t bring six million guilders to the table; it takes more than 45 million guilders annually to deal with the acute social problems in St. Maarten. We need them (AMFO edi.,-) to stay longer and invest in, not fund our development,” Bute said.

Goals
The platform has taken up residence in the Turning Point building. They plan to use that space to craft a poverty reduction strategy and giving a prominent voice to vulnerable groups like single mothers, senior citizens and unemployed youth.
“People have the idea that we are above the poverty line because we are not in Ethiopia, but we cannot measure ourselves against them, we have to measure ourselves against European standards because we are Dutch and the cost of living requires that we use more than a dollar a day to survive,” Bute said before slamming the Kingdom government for not addressing poverty in a “responsible manner.”
The platform is especially concerned about employment opportunities for young people especially since current hiring practices “scare people away.”
“Our youngsters come back and are told that they are overqualified and they become disillusioned so they decide to buy a ticket and go back to Europe or the United States. What about these youngsters who see no hope? They have no other way to organize themselves other than through drugs, crime and gangs. Who speaks for them when they go to the labor office to try to get a job and they are treated like a dog,” Bute said.

Involvement
The platform plans to be involved in everything that affects the lives of citizens and has promised to enhance already established structures and respect the role of the government. Their engagement will be guided by the broad ideals in the eight Millennium Development Goals.
“If the Kingdom of the Netherlands is going to put 3, 000 children on the road, we need to lift the educational standard. We need upgraded infrastructure and better learning environments. A revamp of the complete curriculum is also necessary since illiteracy also contributes to poverty,” Bute said before suggesting that government invest in sports facilities in Cay Bay, Dutch Quarter, Middle Region and Cay Hill.

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