PHILIPSBURG–United St. Maarten Party (US Party) Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper sent a letter to Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Richard Panneflek on Monday that questioned the distribution of unemployment benefits under the St. Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP). In the letter, Buncamper quoted a complaint he had received about the unemployment support scheme. “The unemployment benefit doesn’t seem to work. Lots of people applied for it, but got a food box instead. Food box doesn’t pay the bills. When you send an e-mail to complain, nobody answers,” the complaint read. Based on this complaint, Buncamper asked Panneflek to disclose the number of persons who have applied for financial assistance and how many have been denied and granted a food box instead. He also asked about the average value of the food box compared to the unemployment benefits, whether arrangements are being made to assist persons with utilities bills, and whether there is a timeframe to respond to those requesting financial assistance. According to the SSRP website, the unemployment support scheme will pay NAf. 1,150 per month to qualifying individuals. The project has an initial implementation period of three months, namely April, May, and June. Buncamper said many applications for financial assistance are being “jeopardised” because applicants are unable to get stamped documents returned to them from the Tax Office and/or the Receiver’s Office. He asked whether this requirement could be waived because “it is government who is unable to comply.” Buncamper also questioned the scheme’s application process and asked Panneflek to disclose the entity and/or government department involved in handling applications. “Please explain how exactly it works so I can understand it correctly,” he said in the letter.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/buncamper-questions-panneflek-about-unemployment-support-2