Plenty of things were said about improving kingdom relations in the Second Chamber of Dutch Parliament on Wednesday (see related stories), among others by St. Maarten’s “very own” Jorien Wuite (D66) in her maiden speech. An example of how not to was –unwittingly – provided by a report on the front page of Tuesday’s paper on Curaçao’s (formerly Antillean) Social Insurance Bank SVB cutting old age AOV pensions of recipients living elsewhere by 10 per cent as of January 1, 2017, and withholding their 13th month Christmas bonus since 2016.
This new policy was contested in court and on March 1 a judge ruled that the austerity measure could not apply to residents of the former Netherlands Antilles before it was dissolved per 10-10-10. Because SVB has not paid up until now, the Dutch government in The Hague is being asked to act on behalf of disadvantaged persons in the special overseas bodies of the Netherlands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) as well as autonomous country within the kingdom St. Maarten.
Surely, officials in Willemstad knew back then that many AOV recipients were on the other islands, so was a possible exemption even looked at? After all, aren’t Curaçao and St. Maarten still in a monetary union together?
Perhaps there existed the impression of people “bathing in luxury” abroad, but that’s hardly a realistic view in most cases. To the contrary, many of these retirees are struggling to make ends meet especially if relying only on SVB’s monthly AOV with its US $478 (NAf. 862) maximum.
They will soon hopefully have about US $2,500 in retroactive payments to look forward to. Perhaps whoever made this questionable decision at best in terms of Dutch Caribbean ties should be a bit more considerate and cognisant of their Antillean roots next time around.