PHILIPSBURG–United People’s (UP) party number four candidate Grisha Heyliger-Marten believes that seniors whose only income is pensions should be exempt from paying taxes and the disabled should also receive some form of exemption.
She said in a press release that with all that has occurred over the past two years since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated St. Maarten, leaving many without homes and jobs, the people who must be feeling the strain the most are senior citizens.
“The goal I have set where pension reform is concerned is to ensure that pensioners whose only income is their pension do not have to be further burdened by having to pay taxes on their small income,” said Heyliger-Marten.
She said that while St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the reality is that pensioners in the Netherlands receive about US $1,000 more than pensioners in St. Maarten or elsewhere in the Kingdom.
“In the Netherlands, the level of protection was established since the 1960s, but the politicians in the Caribbean Netherlands never asked for equal protection. We must have access to good quality healthcare, a basic income in keeping with the cost of living, and a decent pension when we retire,” she stated in a press release.
“They will say the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands are autonomous and should execute the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on their own. This Covenant was for the entire Netherlands Kingdom, executable within five years after it was ratified by The Hague 40 years ago. Yes, we did make our own mistakes in St. Maarten after 10-10-10 when the decision was taken to keep the maximum pension at NAf.1,000, and it is high time that we fix it.
“My goal is not to create animosity with our partners within the Kingdom, but rather to point out the areas of the relationship that still need to be worked on so that we can truly feel a sense of equality and our citizens can benefit from a level playing field. Today’s pensioner in St. Maarten comprises mainly three types of individuals: those who still have loans to pay which they must continue to pay, those who own or operate a business, and those whose pension is their only source of income,” she noted.
According to the UP candidate, whether someone supports the UP party or not they cannot deny that it is unfair for a 65-year-old single woman to receive NAf. 1,000, pay taxes, and then pay rent, light and water, and buy food and clothes.
She said the vision of her husband, suspended Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger and the party he built with its new leader is to ensure that if someone is a pensioner with pension as their only income, they are exempt from paying taxes. She pointed out the challenge and cost involved in seniors having to find an accountant to help them file taxes, which must come from their pension, which is less than the minimum wage in St. Maarten.
“Physically challenged persons in our community should also receive some form of exemption and I challenge anyone who can point out to me how doing this will break the bank of the government.”
She said the role of a pension fund is to manage the savings for the retirement of the working class. Each citizen who works and pays into the pension fund must have a reasonable expectation of a small nest egg that will help him or her get by after they are no longer able to work full time. If this income is again taxed, senior citizens’ living conditions will continue to decline.
Bron: Daily Herald