Platform said Lee instructed SZV to not index AOV/AWW | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform and St. Maarten Consumers Coalition said on Thursday that Minister of Heath, Labour and Social Affairs VSA Emil Lee was the one who instructed Social and Health Insurances SZV to not index social pensions in St. Maarten for this year.

   Platform and Coalition representatives told reporters at their weekly press conference on Thursday, SZV sent them a letter it had received from Lee last year, instructing them to not increase AOV/AWW for 2019. 

  Platform representatives protested the decision to not adjust the social pensions, as well as the decision to publish consumer price index for 2018, and filed a formal complaint with the Ombudsman against these governmental decisions, “which we find unlawful and unnecessarily humiliating and abusive for the most vulnerable in our society,” platform representatives said.

  “Will there be an adjustment to the AOV/AWW amounts for 2019? Probably yes. It seems that Minister of VSA, after our public protest and appeal to correct this social injustice, changed his mind. Let us see what COLA (Cost of Living) percentage the Task Force will come up with.

  As Anti-Poverty Platform/Consumer Coalition, we will champion for an adjustment of the social pensions to at least Transparency International and Dutch NIBUD institute mentioned amounts of a minimal of US $1,500 for a single-person household not to be in poverty and minimal US $2,222 a month for a two-person household. We will provide the social-responsible and all the legal arguments for the Task Force to advise the Minister of VSA,” Platform representatives said.

  The Ministry of VSA said last Sunday it will be assembling a Task Force to “investigate the possibilities” of adapting the 2019 AOV/AWW pension amounts in a way that is socially acceptable and fits within the confines of the law. 

  News of the Task Force came on the heels of criticism from the St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform and St. Maarten Consumers Coalition about the non-indexation of social pensions for 2019, based on the Cost of Living Adjustment in 2018.

  In the meantime, the Anti-Poverty Platform and Consumer Coalition said they have not received any formal invitation yet to participate in a Task Force.

Source: The Daily Herald