No compensation for pension loss

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.”

The Daily Herald.

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