THE BOTTOM – Concerned Saban residents showed up in numbers at Tuesday’s Island Council meeting, where the planned reduction in pension premiums was tabled.
The WIPM faction of the Island Council requested this meeting, where amongst others were a large group of staff members of the local senior citizen’s home who came out in solidarity.
The group of staff members marched to the Government Administration Building making their stance loud and clear. Pieter van Amsterdam representing the island’s seniors under the Benevolent Foundation said, “On behalf of the Benevolent Foundation Saba and Saba Health Care Foundation we are concerned about the pension cuts.”
Response too slow
All parties agree that this reduction will be detrimental to pensioners, however the opposition party Saba Labour Party (SLP) blames the governing party Windward Islands People Party (WIPM) for not countering this decrease much earlier.
In a statement from WIPM faction members specified: “Since 10-10-10 we have been fighting to ensure that there is fair standard of living for the people of Saba. Study after study has shown that the cost of living has increased significantly since the transition. The Spies Report highlighted that measures must be taken to fight poverty and improve living standards.
This reduction goes against the outcomes of these reports and even the response of the Dutch Government to the Spies Report, where they agreed to take additional measures to improve the socio-economic conditions, particularly of the low-income groups, on the island.”
Who can help
Opposition Leader Ishamel Levenstone (SLP) in his comments noted that on the island many residents were encouraged to vote for D66, therefore he is suggesting the local government make more contact with the D66 Members of Parliament to assist the island with this dilemma.
Island Council Member Monique Wilson (SLP) noted that her party had contacted Ministers in the Netherlands, specifically Minister Ronald van Raak about the pension crisis on Saba. Levenstone said while in the Netherlands for the BES Week in June his party will be following up with certain parliamentarians in the First and Second Chamber towards a solution.
WIPM Island Council Member Vito Charles is calling on the Dutch government to allow PCN more time to come up with solutions to cover its debt. However, Charles said, “The Dutch government should compensate PCN’s debt since they were the ones to create PCN in the absence of APNA.”
WIPM Island Council Member Everton Heyliger made a plea to the Dutch government on this regard. “Our people are already carrying home less than those pensioners in Holland. You work 30-40 years to carry home next to nothing at the end of the day”, he said.