Reader’s Opinion: Joyous occasion (Utilities relief to seniors)

POSTED: 03/31/14 11:19 PM

It is with great acknowledgement that I extend my support for the Senior Citizens’ Utilities Relief signed by GEBE Supervisory Board Chairman Kelvin Bloyden and Managing Board of Directors President Romelio Maduro, in the presence of Minister Maurice Lake, Vice President of the St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association Raymond Jessurun and representatives of the Board.

On behalf of the St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association, I am delighted to see that the New Year’s message I delivered as President of the Association, outlining the needs of our seniors are beginning to take effect.

However, as I read the article in Today I noticed that the relief starts with seniors from the age of 62 years.  Permit me to disagree with that age group as there are seniors 60 years and not employed and should benefit from this relief as well. My suggestion is to start with age 60 for those seniors who qualify based on their situation. I also noticed that the Memorandum of Intent was signed to provide “temporary” relief and that scares me. Why should the program run for one year having to put the seniors through the process of reapply for the relief?  If a re-assessment has to be conducted that should be done internally with the intention of making it even more feasible for the seniors.  What I would also suggest is that annually the seniors come in personally to affirm that they are still alive and in need of the relief.

The article indicated that the program will be executed in close cooperation with the St Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association and we are truly thankful for being considered. However, I will appreciate in the future if the President can be contacted to review the details before the relief is actually implemented. As Minister Maurice Lake described that the occasion as a joyous one, but noted that much work had to be done for the seniors as they are the backbone on St. Maarten. They should be taken care of and he knows that everything takes time and there was no better way to start this initiative than with the seniors in the community.  He added that “There is no politics with seniors” and I totally agree.

As I look back at my New Year’s speech, there are many other situations that the seniors live under such as poverty, insufficient pension received, dwelling situations, health care, to name a few.  However, with this step taken, I can look forward to the implementation of their other needs being place on the front burner.

Once again, as President of the St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association, I thank all those who made this relief possible and on behalf of the seniors of St. Maarten, it is indeed a joyous occasion.

Patricia Flanders,

President ~ SMSPA


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