FRIDAY, 21 DECEMBER 2012
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten General Pension Fund APS says it is striving to make Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payments to government pensioners and early government service retirees before the end of this year.
During Wednesday’s Council of Ministers’ Press Briefing, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt had also announced that efforts are being made to make the COLA payment to pensioners before the end of this week.
APS said in a press release on Thursday that it has been engaged in carrying out the decision to pay out pensions and early retirement benefits to complete the cost of living allowance to pensioners, similar to how civil servants received COLA payments some months ago.
Indexation of pensions is regulated on the basis of Article 30 of the National Pension Ordinance for civil servants (PLvO) which stipulates that indexation of pensions must follow the indexation of salaries to civil servants. The basis for this exercise would be the price index for household consumption for the year 2011, which is set at 3.2 per cent.
The process of indexation is one during which a number of steps must be followed, including attaining prior approval of the COLA payment from the Minister of Finance and other non-government employers, whose retired personnel are now collecting pension benefits. This is particularly the case for those participants who entered the pension fund before January 1, 1998, since it is the last registered employer who is responsible for paying the COLA.
APS said that indexation for 2011 will be applicable only to pensioners who retired from service with an employer who had agreed, in writing, to carry the burden of the increased cost of the retirement benefits. In other words, indexation will only be paid out to pensioners and those on early retirement whose employers have indicated they are in agreement with the arrangement. As it now stands, the only employer to do such has been the government of St. Maarten.
APS said it is making payments retroactively to persons who were entitled to collect pension and or early retirement benefits as of December 31, 2011, or earlier and whose last registered employer was the government.
The payments will take place this month, as a lump sum, with all statutory deductions being made. APS thus seeks to minimize the tax effects for pensioners receiving this retroactive payment. Pensioners can thus rest assured that the total income and withholdings correspond to the current year 2012.
Persons with specific questions regarding their COLA payments have been asked to visit the APS offices, Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am to 3:30pm.