St. Maarten Minister gets pension reform proposal in February

POSTED: 01/29/11 1:25 PM

St. Maarten – Pension reform and reforming the St. Maarten health insurance system are key activities being undertaken by the St. Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor in 2011. This was announced by the Acting Secretary General in that Ministry drs. Jorien Wuite at Friday night’s Lionel Bernhard Scot Memorial Lecture at the PMIA Hall.
Key aspects of the discussion on the pension, which will officially begin in February when the Minister is presented with the models that have been drafted, is the question of the retirement age and how that can be gradually increased, increase the benefits to match present day economic realities and the laws and incentives that are necessary for promoting people getting private pension plans to complement what they are paid by the national system.
At the moment the pension system is based on a pay as you go system, it has three layers and people can begin collecting when they reach 60. At the moment roughly seven percent of the St. Maarten’s population is retired. Only 36 percent of that group has complementary pensions from private companies, while the other 64 percent draw their pension from the government run pension fund. It has been determined already that keeping the pension age at 60 is not sustainable and not affordable and that the system needs reform. It has also been noted that the presence of immigrants has had a positive effect on the system.
With the conclusion on the age in hand the Ministry, specifically the Department of Social Development and the Executing Agency for sickness and social insurances (ZBO) have pressed for an early discussion, so St. Maarten is not forced to take a decision at a moment of crisis. This priority sits next to reforming the economy and the health insurance system. On the latter the Ministry is moving forward with the creation of the National Health Insurance. The basic concept, which has been crafted, focuses on creating universal access to healthcare in accordance with United Nations resolutions, giving a broad package of services, making it mandatory that all pay into the system and maintaining the solidarity that is one of the pillars of the current health insurance system.

Building a country
Wuite is the first woman to deliver a Lionel Bernhard Scot Memorial Lecture. The other eight presenters have all been men. The President of the PMIA Glenderlin Davis-Holiday said women weren’t ignored in the planning of the previous lectures, but it was just “something that happened.”
She also told those assembled that St. Maarten needs all hands on deck to make its status as a country function well.
“We all have to get information right and then give that knowledge and expertise back to the community. There really is no more time to waste so let’s put our differences aside and work together,” the PMIA president said.
She added, “I realize we still have a lot of Is to dot and Ts to cross and I urge us all to be patient. You can also do what you need to do in your own little corner.”

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