Plasterk asks patience of islands’ pensioners

Saying that he shared the concerns about the socio-economic situation in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk has asked the islands’ pensioners to be patient in the process of reaching a solution for the pension cuts.

“The Dutch Government is very conscious of the standard of living of vulnerable groups in the Caribbean Netherlands and the difficult financial situation in which they find themselves,” stated Plasterk in a recent letter to the islands’ union for pensioners UPAH in response to the union’s petition of early April 2017 to protest the pension cuts.

Also referring to an earlier letter from his colleague State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labour Jetta Klijnsma, Plasterk reiterated that the 3.5 per cent pension reduction of the Caribbean Netherlands Pension Fund PCN per April 1, 2017, was a “terrible, but unavoidable step” in the process to structurally restore PCN’s financial health. PCN has already warned that further pension cuts will be necessary in 2018 and the years thereafter if no solution is reached for the under-funding and low cover factor.

According to Plasterk, PCN’s unavoidable step has not stopped the Dutch Government, as one of the employers aside from the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the islands’ educational and health care institutions, to keep in close contact with PCN regarding the developments and the fund’s financial status.

“In the meantime, as an employer I ask you to give me time to find a solution together with the other employers’ organisations and PCN that will be acceptable for all parties. An ultimately healthy cover factor is important to prevent further pension cuts for current and future pensioners. This will take some time, considering the complexity of the matter,” stated Plasterk, who asked for understanding and cooperation.

The Minister informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament last week about the developments. He confirmed that talks with PCN were still ongoing, but that the pension cut per April 1 was unavoidable.

In the letter, Plasterk also explained that PCN made its own decisions and has its own responsibilities, be it in consultation with employers and employees’ organisations.

The overview that the Minister provided to the Second Chamber showed that PCN’s cover factor had gradually declined from more than 100 per cent in 2013 to 88.6 per cent in April 2017. The lowest percentage was 80.1 per cent in January 2017.

The Daily Herald.

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