Anti-Poverty Platform to develop Minimum Reference Budgets for St. Maarten
We all complain about the high cost of living in St. Maarten, the non-livable minimum wages, the poverty, old age pensions, the inadequate social allowances and the lack of unemployment benefits. People have to work two or three jobs to meet their household needs. The Transparency International Report concluded that 75% or ¾ of the households in St. Maarten live in poverty. Poverty hampers adequate social participation. Poverty should neither be alleviated nor reduced, but poverty should be eradicated! Nobody should live in poverty! Poverty is a violation of human dignity and the human right to an adequate standard of living! For every adult, youth and child to participate adequately in society, everybody should have access to the resources necessary to comply with international human rights standards and social expectations. Everybody has the right to live an autonomous life and contribute to society. What are the minimum resources that households in St. Maarten need to live a life in accordance with human dignity? How can we guarantee that everybody in this part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands can realize the right to an adequate standard of living for the health and wellbeing of oneself and one’s family?
Transparency International’s conclusion on poverty in St. Maarten has been disputed publicly! Therefore the coordinators of the St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform have taken the initiative to develop Minimum Reference Budgets for St. Maarten. Minimum Reference Budgets will be developed for singles and couples with children and without children, as well as for seniors and non-seniors. The minimum resources needed to adequately participate in society will be determined for these categories. These Reference Budgets will provide budget information to assist individuals and households. It will enable to give more appropriate money and debt advice. It also enables us to evaluate the adequacy of benefits such as social pensions, social allowances and social tariffs for water, electricity, communication and transportation, etc. These reference budgets will enable us also to better address with government the eradication of poverty in our society.
Drs Raymond Jessurun