Saturday, Apr 25th

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

Best_of_2015_587x57_Results

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).

Image
Chamber lends helping hand to entrepreneurs with Business Centre
Saturday, 25 April 2015
TEATT Minister Claret Connor and MP Tamara Leonard cut the ribbon to officially open the... Read more...
Appeals filed in Bada Bing case
Saturday, 25 April 2015
PHILIPSBURG--All suspects in the Bada Bing case, involving bribery, trafficking of women, tax... Read more...
Image
Blue Bell ice cream recall extended to Caribbean
Friday, 24 April 2015
BRENHAM, USA --Blue Bell Creameries of Brenham, Texas, voluntarily expanded its recall to include... Read more...
Image
Banks look forward to resolution of correspondent banking issue
Thursday, 23 April 2015
CASTRIES, St. Lucia--The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) said it fully supports Prime Minister... Read more...
Image
All-clear sounded at Statue of Liberty after bomb scare sparks evacuation
Friday, 24 April 2015
NEW YORK--The Statue of Liberty was declared safe on Friday after a bomb scare forced the... Read more...
Several investigations likely of drone strikes
Friday, 24 April 2015
WASHINGTON--The Central Intelligence Agency's Inspector General will conduct what could be the... Read more...
Image
Suspected Al-Qaeda militants arrested for Vatican plot
Friday, 24 April 2015
ROME--Italian police on Friday arrested 10 people and were looking for eight others suspected of... Read more...
Image
ELN rebels say peace talks near, rule out jail
Friday, 24 April 2015
BOGOTA--Colombia's second-biggest guerrilla group says exploratory talks with the government are... Read more...
Image
Strong sales boost Renault shares as tensions with France simmer
Friday, 24 April 2015
PARIS--Renault shares powered to a seven-year high on Friday as forecast-beating quarterly sales... Read more...
Image
French gas giant GDF Suez changes its name to Engie
Friday, 24 April 2015
PARIS--French gas utility GDF Suez said on Friday it was changing its name to "Engie" to reflect an... Read more...
Image
Unhappy in love
Friday, 24 April 2015
Dear Queenie, My boyfriend has been acting strange for a while now. He forgets our dates and then... Read more...
Image
What God has to say about Carnival?
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Dear Editor, Many people and religious believers would be celebrating this yearly event called... Read more...
Image
King’s Day
Friday, 24 April 2015
Children of St. Maarten celebrated King’s Day with organized games at Melford Hazel Sport and... Read more...
Image
West Indies’ Brathwaite ton frustrates England
Friday, 24 April 2015
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada-- Kraigg Brathwaite's determined century led West Indies to 202 for two at the... Read more...
Image
Ensemble cast numbs pain of life in Anesthesia at Tribeca
Friday, 24 April 2015
NEW YORK--An ensemble cast led by actors Sam Waterston, Glenn Close and Kristen Stewart numb... Read more...
Image
Justin Bieber settles lawsuit with Florida photographer
Friday, 24 April 2015
MIAMI--A lawsuit against pop star Justin Bieber over an incident involving a photographer in Miami... Read more...
Image
The Evolving View of Cannabis
Saturday, 25 April 2015
~ Many opinions expressed at St. Maarten’s first open forum ~   By Lisa Davis-Burnett  ... Read more...
Image
King Vers: The Man Behind the Music
Saturday, 25 April 2015
~His music mirrors his life~ By Rik Haverman King Vers, real name Darin Hodge, is a 33-year-old... Read more...
Editorial - Hopeful thoughts
Saturday, 25 April 2015
The King's Day Celebration hosted by Governor Eugene Holiday and themed "Service and Country" at... Read more...
Editorial - As a whole
Friday, 24 April 2015
It probably seems like a bit of a never-ending story, but promoting cooperation between the Dutch... Read more...
Image
Firiday Apr. 24, 2015
Friday, 24 April 2015
Image
Monday April 20, 2015
Monday, 20 April 2015
Notices April 25
Friday, 24 April 2015
Saturday, April 25 PET'S FOOD DRIVE Organised by PAWSITIVE SXM place: CostUless Time: 9:00am to... Read more...
Notices April 24
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Saturday, April 25 PET'S FOOD DRIVE Organised by PAWSITIVE SXM place: CostUless Time: 9:00am to... Read more...