Dutch Ombudsman looks into Statia pension debacle

The Dutch National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen announced on Thursday that he has started an investigation into the pension premiums of a number of (former) St. Eustatius civil servants and teaching employees. The investigation focuses on the non-supplying of information of the St. Eustatius Government to the Caribbean Netherlands Pension Fund (PCN). The investigation is the result of a complaint filed by a female teacher with regard to the problems with her pension.

According to a press release of the National Ombudsman, the PCN is unable to calculate her pension over the years 1998 to 2010 because the Public Entity St. Eustatius has not supplied the information, despite repeated requests.

The National Ombudsman has already submitted a number of questions to the Statia Government in order to obtain a good view of the situation. Van Zutphen is expected to conclude his investigation in October this year.

Several teachers and former teaching personnel stationed in St. Eustatius had approached Dutch authorities, including Member of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Jan Nagel of the senior citizens party 50PLUS, about the situation that they have been confronted with regarding their pension. In St. Eustatius it reportedly concerned 15 pension cases at the Gwendoline van Putten School with two to fifteen years of “missing” pension premiums.

The pension premiums of these persons, possibly up to 300 civil servants and teaching personnel in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, have either not been paid by their employers prior to 2010, or the information was not properly registered by the then Netherlands Antilles General Pension Fund APNA.

In the years prior to the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, the Antillean Government omitted to transfer the pension premiums of an unknown number of civil servants to the APNA. These pension premiums were in fact deducted from the employees in question. PCN has had a hard time tracing the information due to inconsistencies in APNA’s administration.

Senator Nagel brought up the issue of the nonpayment and the possible adverse consequences for the pensions of the involved persons. During a debate with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on June 21, Nagel requested establishing an independent committee to investigate the matter.

Plasterk then explained that talks were ongoing between the PCN and the Dutch Government, in this case the Caribbean Netherlands National Government Office RCN, which is the legal successor of the personnel that formerly worked in the service of the now dismantled Country the Netherlands Antilles.

The Minister clarified that the dossier investigation was taking place, which should be concluded this summer or shortly thereafter. Based on the results of this investigation, it might prove necessary for the Dutch Government to pay a supplement to the PCN to restore the individual pension rights of the duped group of persons. Plasterk said it would be wise to await the investigation and the talks between PCN and RCN.

The Daily Herald.

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