photo: Saba LIFE Center

THE BOTTOM – Initiated by local political advocate Dave Levenstone a petition was signed on Saba against the reduction of the PCN pension. This petition was addressed to Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

A copy of the petition was also submitted to Kingdom Representative Gilbert Isabella and the local government. A total 291 residents signed the petition.

On behalf of pensioners the petition states, “We have been officially informed by the PCN that effective April 15, 2017 the pensions for all pensioners and active members will be reduced by 3.5% and in 2018 this will be reduced further with an additional 12% if the situation is not regulated on the part of the Dutch Government.

The undersigned find this to be very unfair to all of us that have worked so hard over the years to build up a pension for our future and we find it rather very difficult at this time to have to encounter a reduction in our pensions especially knowing that we live on an island where the cost of living is already very high, with little hope of any change soon.”

On Saba social support will increase from $72 to $181 per every two weeks, starting March 1, 2017. Jetta Klijnsma, State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment announced this during a recent work conference on social security in Bonaire.

Saban seniors enjoying some games at the Saba LIFE Center. Photo: Saba LIFE Center

Commissioner of Social Affairs Rolando Wilson in his recent reaction to the increase in social premiums, which he said could have been more, highlighted the fact that many pensioners are receiving as little as $600 monthly and this is not enough to cover their basic necessities. “You see them go to the shops picking up stuff, but then they have to put it back because it cost too much. The cost of living on Saba is very high,” he said.

The petition further states, “The rule and standards that the Dutch Central Bank has set for the European part of the Kingdom should and can never be the same as that of the islands in the Caribbean. The cost of living in the European part of the Kingdom is relatively much cheaper than that of the islands in the Caribbean.”

The petition is calling for deliberations between the Dutch government and PCN. “We feel that your ministry should sit down with the PCN and work out a solution in this regard. If your ministry does not find it interesting to try and solve this matter, it can be interpreted as if with all the talk about poverty your ministry is helping to increase poverty on the respective islands.”