SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform (SMAPP) in a press statement on Thursday said: “Who does not want to be happy 365 days of the year? How happy one can be with the little pension increase which became law per the 1st of July last year? The maximum social pension amounts on the southern side of Soualiga, are still not even half of what the social pensions are for senior(s) widow(ers) and orphans in the European part of the Kingdom!
“So far, we have not heard one politician, not one minister, not one parliamentarian arguing to make our social pensions equal to the ones in the European part, as is already the case on the northern side of Soualiga!
“As of the 1st of July 2020, the old age pensions, widow(er) and orphan pension had to be increased with 11 % based on a decision approved by Parliament at the end of June 2020. Today January 2021, 6 months later, no senior, no widow(er), no orphan has received this 11 % monthly increase in their social pension amount! When will this social pension increase be paid?
“The old age pensions maximum had to increase with 129 ANG a month, which is ANG 4.30 a day, enough to pay for a bus to go Philipsburg and return home every day, but not enough to buy something extra in town!
“Most of the seniors in St Maarten will not get the maximum amount of 129 ANG a month but have been cut based on the amount of years that they have not lived in St Maarten.
“The accumulated social pension increase of the 6 months of 2020 will not be taxed in 2020, but when paid out in 2021 it will result in extra income tax for government! This is unfair!
“No official explanation has been provided why the most vulnerable in our society until today did not get their little increase! To add insult to injury the cost of living adjustment of the old age pensions per January 1st has also not been paid out. Not even an official announcement in the newspaper as is customary annually was published!
“Minister Panneflek who had called our platform coordinators in a meeting, one day before he went to defend this law proposal in parliament, at that time said that he personally wanted a higher increase, but actuarial calculations of the Ministry concluded that that would have been unsustainable for the fund.
“Now that the seniors, widow(er)s and orphans have not received the lawful increase, no word from the Minister of VSA! Also no word from the Director of SZV who has to implement the law! How they will defend this injustice to the senior(s) widow(ers) and orphans?
“The social pensions in this part of the Kingdom are poverty pensions!
“Nowhere in the governing program of the NA-UP coalition government for the remaining 3 years, not even in the National Development Vision 2020-2030, so for the coming 10 years neither poverty eradication, nor equal social pensions in the Kingdom has been mentioned!
“In the governing program of the former UD-SMCP coalition at least a study with that objective was mentioned!
“King Willem Alexander, Governor Eugene Holiday, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs addressed the Corona virus one cannot even see, but no word about the social injustice, the racial discrimination, the inequality and poverty in this part of the Kingdom! Wishing us a happy new year, while most of our seniors have to continue to live in poverty, and they will live another 365 days with a fat salary, without the intention to address these social inequalities in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, isn’t that hypocrisy,” the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform (SMAPP) concludes.