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No compensation for pension loss

20 May 2017

THE HAGUE–Retired civil servants of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba receiving a pension will not be compensated for the 3.5 per cent reduction of their monthly pay-out by Caribbean Netherlands Pension Fund PCN.

“The Dutch Government is not considering flanking policy in the form of compensation of pension cuts that were introduced,” stated caretaker State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labour Jetta Klijnsma on Friday in response to written questions by Democratic Party D66 Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Antje Diertens and Steven van Weyenberg.

Additional support is only provided to specific groups. Klijnsma explained that the “pocket money” of elderly persons, who receive an old age pension AOV and who reside in an old people’s home was recently “increased substantially.” In addition, persons in need can also apply for a special welfare allowance (bijzondere onderstand).

The State Secretary clarified that, together with the island governments, she was working on a social-economic agenda, which should be ready this summer. The Dutch Government is also making funds available to eradicate poverty on the islands.

Members of Parliament (MPs) Diertens and Van Weyenberg sought clarity from the Dutch Government following the announcement by PCN that per April 1, it had to enforce a 3.5-per cent pension cut, due in order to structurally restore the pension fund and to create a healthy financial situation. There was much protest against this decision.

Klijnsma stated that the Dutch Government, as one of the employers in the Caribbean Netherlands, aside from the public entities, schools and health care institutions, was engaged in talks with PCN about the course of action in relation to the fund’s worrisome financial situation.

The State Secretary provided an overview of the effects of this year’s pension cut-back per group, per island. Pensioners living alone with a high pension and AOV will see their total income decrease by 0.9 per cent in St. Eustatius and Saba. The income of single persons with a low pension and AOV will decrease by 0.7 per cent in St. Eustatius and Saba. In Bonaire, the loss of income of these two groups is higher: 0.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

Elderly couples with a high pension and AOV in St. Eustatius and Saba will be affected by 0.7 per cent, while couples with a low pension and AOV will suffer a loss of 0.7 per cent in income. In Bonaire, the figures were calculated at 0.9 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

The variable income effects per island are caused by the differences in the AOV allowance, stated Klijnsma, who added that no income effects could be presented for 2018, because the AOV allowance for 2018 will be determined late 2017. PCN had announced that in 2018, the pensions would be cut by another 12 per cent, if no measures are taken to financially improve the fund.

PCN’s court case against the Dutch Government starts on July 19, stated Klijnsma. PCN has taken The Hague to Court over a disagreement about the height of the capital deposit by the Dutch Government, when PCN was established in 2010 as the successor of the Netherlands Antilles General Pension Fund APNA for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The State Secretary said she could not indicate how long the court case would take.

Klijnsma explained that at the time in 2010, the government took into consideration the regulations that were then in place, as well as the points of departure of life expectation and interest. “PCN had to make adjustments based on changed circumstances, just as pension funds in the Netherlands had to.”

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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