St. Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) in its first press conference of the New Year (see Friday paper) made an interesting point. It said the old age, widow(er) and orphan pensions AOV/AWW should have gone up by 11 per cent effective July 1 but people are yet to receive such.
For some seniors, the increase means an extra 126 Netherlands Antillean guilders per month. Many who do not collect a full pension will get less, however, because they have not lived on the island long enough.
Nevertheless, an explanation for the delay seems warranted and Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Richard Panneflek or – by extension – Social and Health Insurances SZV ought to provide it. The claim that retroactive payment in 2021 of the amounts accumulated over the past six months will result in additional tax income for government, should be examined as well.
While practically everyone is having to make ends meet with fewer financial means under these unprecedented socioeconomic circumstances, including much of the private sector giving up 20 per cent of their salaries, older persons are a vulnerable group in society partly because of the relatively low local pensions in the first place. Certainly, if a decision is made to give them a bit more along with increasing the pensionable age as was the case, this must be implemented with the necessary expedience.
The elderly, who played a role in the community, deserve respect and special consideration for their contributions. They are not to be kept waiting in vain.