Seniors to petition Dutch First Chamber for pension increase

POSTED: 01/10/13 12:56 PM

St. Maarten -Concerns that have been raised by several sections of society and in particular social activist drs. Raymond Jessurun about the increase in AOV pension to 1000 guilders and what it would mean for people who may not have worked in the Netherlands Antilles for 45 years or more, drew reactions from the government yesterday.

Jessurun described the increase as a poverty pension that would not bring any real relief since most seniors migrated and would not have spent an entire 45 year period in St. Maarten or the former Netherlands Antilles to qualify for 1000 guilders. Jessurun’s only solution is for the Dutch government to assume responsibility for St. Maarten as the State Party in charge of development and ensure that the island’s social protection floor is equivalent to that of the Netherlands.

Yesterday Public Health and Social Development Minister Dr. Cornelius de Weever suggested that if people on St. Maarten want to have equal treatment as with other parts of the Kingdom then they ought to make an effort to meet with the Dutch First Chamber today to “go and fight for that.”

The minister added that he was unsure as to what platform Jessurun was speaking from, whether his personal views or those of one of the organizations he represents, and would therefore not comment his analysis.

“As far as Mr. Jessurun is concerned I am not going to get into the details of his statement because I don’t know if it is a personal statement or on behalf of the organization and before we go there…..again I think we have to be very careful.”

His general impression however from people he claims to have met is that “they are very grateful for the increase. Before we go and just increase again, I think we need to have data that substantiates everything that we do because we have to do it in a responsible way,” the minister stated.

Jessurun’s analysis however found some support in the prime minister’s corner.

“It is a fact that the maximum pension is tied in to being a worker in the former Netherlands Antilles and now St. Maarten for the maximum amount of time. As far as that is not the case it will be broken down.  I haven’t looked at the numbers but that is the fact based on the law,” the Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams stated.

Minister de Weever still sees a silver lining in the new pension scheme.

“It is not only for individuals but for those who did not work but resided here their entire lives as well. The increase of a 1000 guilders also increases the others as you go along depending on how many years who have actually contributed to the system,” the minister added.

“What we are also faced is that there are those who worked in Curacao, Aruba or even the Netherlands and in the Netherlands you receive your pension until you are 65. So they have to wait until then to get it and in the meantime they can get their part from St. Maarten as well,” de Weever eventually said.

The prime minister added that it is also a matter that she had brought up with SZV in the past.

“The law that states that if the person in collecting pension is not residing on St. Maarten they will not receive the full amount. Where you have that case is for those that are residing on French St. Martin  as well and are considered to be residing in foreign territory and don’t get the pension.”

In reacting to yesterday’s statement’s Jessurun, who functions as the first vice president of the St. Maarten Senior Citizens and Pensions Association (SMSPA) and as secretary of the Building Bridges Foundation, said that he will continue to say the same things in representation of the organizations that he is a part of.

“My personal opinion will never be different from those of the organizations that I am apart of us. My positions reflect the constitution of the SMSPA, we are guided by human rights declarations, principles and our purpose is to realize our human rights in the State the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The increase is still a poverty pension and with an addition of $1.39 per day the seniors can take a bus to the supermarket, but they can’t get back home and certainly cannot buy anything. It is the same amount of money that he has to spend. There is difference between being glad with this little increase and being happy because you cannot be happy in poverty,” the social activist commented.

Jessurun says that he will certainly turn up today at the Philipsburg Cultural Centre to meet with the Dutch First Chamber to highlight his concerns.

“If we have to refresh the Minister of the different moments that I have represented the position of the seniors association we will gladly do that in a meeting with him. In the only meeting the board of the SMSPA had with the Minister in 2012 the Minister was recommended to form a national committee to look into the possibility of the equal pensions and social protection in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

If that had happened the Minister would have had all the information and the arguments to address this inequality in social security with the Kingdom government to make a responsible end to the poverty in this part of the Kingdom as requested by the SMSPA on different occasions,” Jessurun concluded.


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Comments (1)


  1. Student says:

    For the older folks Nafl 1000.- might be a helpfull solution, because they worked from young age. But what about the younger folks who are studying abroad and return later to St.Maarten. They will never make 45 years. They went abroad to study and gain experience to practise this in St.Maarten and as a thank you receive a little pension. Reduce the years to 35 instead of 45 years and implement an additional pension insurance for the persons who are interested in it.