Not 75% of the households in Sint Maarten but at least 94% of the households in Sint Maarten cannot survive monthly and live in poverty with an household income of less than 4000 ANG or 2222 USD a month. The percentage of households in poverty has increased in five years after Sint Maarten became a country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with 19%. It went up from 75% in 2010 to 94% in 2015.
The anti-Poverty Platform concluded this based on the results of the Household Budget Survey (HBS) reported by the Department of Statistics of the GOVERNMENT OF Sint Maarten. On Page 32 of the Full Report on the Household budget Survey.
The Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform has been addressing her concerns about the poverty in Sint Maarten for the last five years to all political authorities in Sint Maarten and in the Kingdom at no avail. “We were even contradicted and criticized in Parliament by Parliamentarians from the coalition and from the opposition for using the poverty conclusion from the Transparency International report. Consequently what have they done to eradicate poverty in Sint Maarten? No one should be kept in poverty, as this is a violation of a fundamental human right to equality and social justice in the State the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as violation of the right to an adequate standard of living for oneself and for ones family!!” Based on the census data from 2010 TraNsparency International concluded in its Integrity report on Sint Maarten that 75% of the households in Sint Maarten Could not survive with an income of less than 4000 ANG of USD 2222 a month!
Declaration to eradicate poverty
The Anti-Poverty Platform has asked the parliamentarians and the government to adopt legislation to increase the social pensions, the minimum wage, the social allowances.
Before the elections of two years ago all political parties have been asked to sign the Declaration of Eradication of Poverty that they have drafted for the politicians, but none of the 9 political parties participating at that time wanted to commit.
This time when co-coordinator of the platform Alberto Bute was asked to come on the list of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) the party had to comply with one condition: committing to eradicate poverty in the coming Parliamentary and governing period and by signing the Declaration on the Eradication ofPoverty. The Sint Maarten Christian Party is the only party that publicly signed the Eradication of Poverty Declaration! The Platform has been supporting Alberto Bute as the candidate in the bottom of the SMCP slate in his quest to become the voice of the poor and the needy in Parliament.
Alberto Bute: “I thank the Sint Maarten Christian Party for committing to a cause that we have been championing for so many years now. Since the inception of the SUNFED addressing poverty was one of our main focuses. With the votes of the electorate to get us to be the voice in parliament we can continue our struggle on the floor of parliament, presenting draft amendments to existing legislation which is limiting the people to get an income which is sufficient not to be in poverty.”
Manifestation and letter to the governor
Last week Wednesday the co-coordinators of the Anti-Poverty Platform Alberto Bute and drs Raymond Jessurun held a public manifestation in front of the governor’s palace. A new letter was delivered to the Governor of Sint Maarten his excellency drs Eugene Holiday, the highest representative of the Kingdom government in Sint Maarten.
According to Jessurun: “Exactly one year ago on February 21 2017 we had a meeting with the governor requesting him to join the UN Office of the High Commissioner Campaign to Stand Up for the human rights of the People of Caribbean Origen in the Kingdom. We people from Caribbean Origen are all being discriminated in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He was the one that in his New Years speech asked us all to work together to improve living conditions and the wellbeing of the people. Now we want to continue the dialogue with the governor representing the Kingdom government and being the formal head of the government of Sint Maarten.”
The governor in the letter of the anti-poverty platform was reminded of the objectives of the World Day on Social Justice agreed upon by all States including the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which day was to be observed annually by all States on February 20. These objectives are Social Justice, equality and equity which are not provided to people of Sint Maarten. Neither the Kingdom government neither the government of Sint Maarten has observed this day.
The platform partners of the windward Islands of Chamber Unions spoke out on this day on the social injustices that especially immigrant workers in our society have to experience.
Jessurun: “There are no unemployment benefits as in the European side of the Kingdom. No benefits for private sector workers when they out of a job, whereas civil servants and the ministers that lose their job when governments fall get unemployment benefits. The social protection floors in the Kingdom are much much lower in the Caribbean countries and territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Maximum Social allowances and social pensions are way lower than the ones in the Netherlands.
The 2014 research done by the Dutch national budget information institute (NIBUD) in BONAIRE has showed that because of higher cost of living in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom household income should at least be 2222 USD a month not to be in poverty. “No problem for the politicians who make a salary of 10.000 a 11.000 USD a month, but for 94% of the Household families they are not even getting 1/5th of the politicians salary to maintain their families!
The household budget survey of 2015 for Sint Maarten concluded that the average gross monthly income per person is ANG 3461 or USD 1923. With most of the seniors only having to survive with an average old age pension of 550 ANG or 300 USD month, when the income distribution will become more equitable? At least three jobs with a minimum wage are needed for a household to make this average wage. No wonder some parents have to work two or more jobs to make the ends meet every month! How a one parent household can reach an average income of USD 1923?
The anti-poverty platform suspects that not 94% but a much higher percentage of households will be in poverty after hurricane Irma and María has put so many workers and families without income out of a job and after what is even more noticeable the jacking up of the prices increasing the cost of living!
So far none of the politicians have been serious and willing to address this social injustice! Should we vote for them again, were they have not even committed to eradicate the poverty the coming four years?” The platform encourages all persons to consider this social injustice and vote for those who have committed to come with legislation and policies which will leave no one in poverty! The anti-poverty platform awaits the results of the election to see if they will get a permanent voice in parliament !