Tuesday, Jul 22nd

LATEST:
You are here: Islands Islands News MPs discuss increase in pension age with SER

MPs discuss increase in pension age with SER

PHILIPSBURG--Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed concern about the small amount of money pensioners have to live and thrive on in the high cost of living environment of St. Maarten in a Central Committee meeting of Parliament held with Chairwoman of the Social Economic Council SER Oldine Bryson-Pantophlet on Tuesday.

The meeting was primarily focused on amendments to the National Ordinance regulating pension and the pension age. However, the majority of the discussion centred on the trials seniors face.

United People's (UP) party MP Johan Leonard called for a study of the labour market to be carried out to determine if the increase in the pension age will cause more youth unemployment. An increase would translate into older people staying two years longer in their current positions. "I agree with increasing it, but I am worried about the consequences."

Independent, former National Alliance (NA) MP Frans Richardson called for a study to determine the factors affecting the lives of pensioners.

Independent, former NA MP Patrick Illidge said the high cost for utilities continue to affect pensioners. He asked what SER was doing to tackle the cost of living and matters such as price control in the country. Bryson-Pantophlet said SER's role was that of an advisory body to government.

Like Illidge, NA Parliamentarian George Pantophlet wants to see the high cost of living faced by pensioners addressed and remedied. He wants the pension amount to become a "living pension" in the same way parliament has called for the minimum wages to become a living wage.

MP Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce said the realities of St. Maarten's economy and how seniors are affected needs to be looked into by all parties to ensure the country was not creating first class and second class citizens.

In response to the MPs' concerns, Bryson-Pantophlet, who was accompanied to the meeting by SER Secretary-General Gerard Richardson, said the country is still to establish a poverty line. The poverty line established by the Netherlands Antilles more than five years ago was still in use.

SER agreed in its advice that the pension age should be increased to 62 from the current age of 60. Bryson-Pantophlet said people are living longer, healthier lives and are more productive. An increase in the pension age is in line with international standards on pension regulations.

SER submitted the unsolicited advice to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament about the increase of the pension age. That advice also covered SER's agreement with the increase of the government pension amount from NAf. 726 to NAf. 1,000. The amount increase went into effect as of January.

However, the amendment to the law – the legal basis for the levying of increase to the AOV payment by contributors – has not been adopted as yet, Democratic Party (DP) MP Roy Marlin said as he called for the handling to be sped up. It is this legal basis that MPs have to approve.

The approval of the amendments may not occur very soon, because of other parliamentary hearings to be conducted with members of the Council of Ministers and an actuary, said President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell (UP).

All MPs were in agreement with the already in place increase of the AOV pension amount, but said it was still too little for pensioners to live on.

Bryson-Pantophlet agreed with MPs saying that the NAf. 1,000 means a pensioner has to live on NAf. 250 per week if they receive the full pension amount. "This sometimes covers GEBE [utilities – Ed.] alone ... don't bother with cable TV. That's beyond reach." Pensioners also have to dip into their pockets to cover some medication costs, she said.

She said although the AOV payments to pensioners is not meant to be "a full income" for many pensioners this is the case. "Something has to be done to give these people some relief."

Bryson-Pantophlet cautioned that the pension amount cannot be increased just for the sake of giving the pensioners an increase. She said the matter has to be reviewed so the pension fund "does not end up in a hole."

To mitigate pension woes in the future, the SER chairwoman called on Parliament to encourage young people to participate in savings plans and employers to offer all employees participation in company pension plans. SER is also in favour of a mandatory pension plan for the entire country.

In the meeting MPs also approved the attendance of Arrindell to attend the presentation of certificates to Coast Guard cadets in Curaçao on June 19 and to the change of command ceremony of the Royal Marines in Curaçao on June 26.

Eight of the Coast Guard cadets who have completed their nine-month theoretical training are from St. Maarten. Four of them are women. The cadets will come to St. Maarten to carry out their one-year practical training in the coming months.

MP Marlin asked Arrindell to request that the Coast Guard host graduation for St. Maarten cadets here in the future. This will allow the cadets' parents, extended family and friends to attend. He believes that as a country St. Maarten's cadets should graduate at home.

Also attending the meeting were MPs Jules James and Theo Heyliger (UP), and Hyacinth Richardson (NA).

Absent with notice were MPs Leroy de Weever (DP), Romain Laville (independent) and Louie Laveist (NA).

Saba Carnival is ‘All ah We!’
Monday, 21 July 2014
By Patrick Geans-Ali SABA--Up from The Bottom to Zion's Hill; down from Hell's Gate to the slopes... Read more...
Nature Foundation focal point for regional nature protection
Monday, 21 July 2014
COLE BAY--Nature Foundation has been appointed as the Specially Protected Area of Wildlife (SPAW)... Read more...
Police kill man dousing station with gasoline
Monday, 21 July 2014
PARAMARIBO--A police officer shot and killed a man on Sunday morning, who reportedly was pouring... Read more...
PM Browne signs US $120M MOA with Sheik of Dubai for luxury hotel project
Monday, 21 July 2014
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua--Prime Minister Gaston Browne, less than 24 hours following his return from... Read more...
Emaciated children in South Sudan point to looming famine
Monday, 21 July 2014
LEER, South Sudan--A surge in the number of emaciated children arriving at a feeding centre in... Read more...
Sierra Leone religious leaders slam handling of Ebola crisis
Monday, 21 July 2014
FREETOWN--Religious leaders in Sierra Leone have criticised the government's handling of an Ebola... Read more...
Gaza death toll tops 500, US steps up ceasefire efforts
Monday, 21 July 2014
GAZA/JERUSALEM--The United States, alarmed by escalating civilian bloodshed in an Israeli offensive... Read more...
Image
Hamas captures Israeli soldier, death toll jumps
Monday, 21 July 2014
GAZA/JERUSALEM--Hamas's armed wing said on Sunday it had captured an Israeli soldier, as fighting... Read more...
Image
Yum and McDonald's apologize as new China food scandal hits
Monday, 21 July 2014
SHANGHAI/LOS ANGELES--Yum Brands Inc and McDonald's Corp are facing a new food safety scare in... Read more...
Cuba hopes for investment as Chinese leader arrives
Monday, 21 July 2014
HAVANA--Chinese President Xi Jinping began a two day visit to Cuba on Monday evening, stirring... Read more...
Working guest
Monday, 21 July 2014
Dear Queenie, Whenever I go to visit my sister she always has repair jobs around the house for me... Read more...
Message to debate organizers: open debate to input from investigative blogo-sphere
Monday, 21 July 2014
Dear Editor, Just like the different seasons show what time of the year it is...so do the... Read more...
Image
Avenir Sportif Club's Sareena Carti
Monday, 21 July 2014
Avenir Sportif Club's Sareena Carti (Seen on left with Dutchside Prime Minister Sarah... Read more...
Image
Cleo Carti places second in Body Fitness competition
Monday, 21 July 2014
PHILIPSBURG—Body fitness competitor Cleo Carti placed second in the Body Fitness Figure Open... Read more...
Robert Downey Jr top earning actor
Monday, 21 July 2014
NEW YORK--Robert Downey Jr, the star of Disney's Marvel superhero film franchises "Iron Man," and... Read more...
Image
Nas has London crowd spellbound with Illmatic
Monday, 21 July 2014
LONDON--Many in the crowd at the Lovebox Festival in London this weekend were not yet born when... Read more...
Image
Why is salt really bad for us?
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Hi, my name is Desiree Winkel, owner and founder of Fitness Coaching. For nearly two years, I have... Read more...
Image
ECO-Friendly AC?
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
~ Check out Kooyman ~ Take a visit to Kooyman and learn more about their eco-friendly air... Read more...
Better late than never
Monday, 21 July 2014
The Democratic Party (DP) now says it favours dollarisation (see related article). The announcement... Read more...
Editorial - Inclusion
Monday, 21 July 2014
The publication of figures from the Voters Registry (see Saturday paper) is always interesting... Read more...
Image
Tuesday July 22, 2014
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Image
Monday July. 21, 2014
Monday, 21 July 2014
Notices July 10
Wednesday, 09 July 2014
Referee/Judge Clinic Bose Promotion along with the St. Maarten Boxing Association will be hosting a... Read more...
Notices July 7
Sunday, 06 July 2014
Summer Camp Joaan/Coach Robert Summer Camp 2014 is now registering children ages 3½ to 16 years... Read more...