‘Missing’ pension funds in Caribbean Netherlands not yet retrieved

conversation at the office

A solution must be devised for all Dutch citizens who have been confronted with missing pension funds. This is the conclusion reached by the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, Reinier van Zutphen, in a letter to the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk. The accrued pension entitlements in question ‘disappeared’ when the former constituent country of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010 as part of a series of constitutional reforms.

The islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (now known collectively as the ‘Caribbean Netherlands’) agreed to become so-called ‘special municipalities’ of the Netherlands, while Curacao and the Dutch half of Sint Maarten became independent countries within the Kingdom, on an equal footing with the Netherlands proper and with Aruba, which gained its ‘status aparte’ in 1986. It is estimated that the problem of the missing pension funds affects dozens of teachers and other public servants in the Caribbean Netherlands. ‘Juridification should never be used as an excuse; the government must make every effort to assure the rights of citizens,’ says Van Zutphen.

The Public Body of Sint Eustatius (Openbaar Lichaam Sint Eustatius, OLE) has repeatedly failed to supply the required information to the Caribbean Netherlands Pension Fund (Pensioenfonds Caribisch Nederland, PCN). The Ombudsman has concluded that this failure is attributable to negligence on the part of the Public Body, and considers the Public Body to be primarily responsible for finding a solution.

In October 2016, Minister Plasterk stated in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives that he is looking for a solution. The Minister wants to provide compensation to public servants with missing pension entitlements (such as missing years of service and salary adjustments). The Public Body of Sint Eustatius must supply the required details of public servants who were working for the island government or as school teachers during the period under consideration. However, the Public Body has repeatedly failed to do so, and these citizens are therefore not receiving the pension to which they are entitled.

In a letter to the Minister, the Ombudsman states that there is no reasonable basis for a distinction whereby the national government only safeguards the rights of employees who happen to be currently working for the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands (Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN). The Ombudsman has appealed to the Minister to help find a solution, in his capacity as the coordinating member of government.