Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Sagicor Life to manage billion-dollar tourism pension fund

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett

The Government of Jamaica is pressing ahead to debate new pension regulations for the tourism sector and to prepare for the administration of oversight bodies.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett indicated this week that the Board of Trustees of the Tourism Industry Pension Oversight Body has done the preparatory work to operationalise the facility.

Minister Bartlett told Loop News on Thursday that the procurement is now complete and Sagicor had been selected to manage the fund. The process, he said, was completed in February.

Sagicor Group CEO, Christopher Zacca later confirmed that the new administrator is Sagicor Life.

The pension scheme will receive $1 billion in funding from the Ministry of Tourism to augment the pool of funds.

The Tourism Workers’ Pension Act came into effect on January 31, paving the way for registration under the pension scheme to begin.

The long-awaited Tourism Workers’ Pensions scheme is designed to cover all workers ages 18-59 years in the tourism sector, whether permanent, contract or self-employed. The scheme includes hotel workers as well as persons employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions. 

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday April 21 started debate on the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme Regulations, which outlines the registration process for employed and self-employed persons under the pension scheme.

Bartlett, who opened the debate on Tuesday, said the regulations “mark the final hurdle before tourism workers will be able to join this landmark pension scheme”.

The regulations are succinct and they detail how an employed or self-employed tourism worker becomes a member of the pension scheme.

It also specifies how members can benefit from an augmented pension as provided in the Tourism Workers’ Pension Act.

“For a member to benefit… the fund administrator must provide the board of trustees with a statement detailing the contributions made for and on behalf of the member and the frequency of the contribution,” the tourism minister explained.

The augmented benefit is for persons who joined the scheme at 59 years old and would not have saved enough for a pension.

Bartlett outlined: “We are the first scheme allowing membership at the age of 59, which would make a member become qualified after only five years of contribution for a full pension as though he was contributing from the first day he started working at age 18.”

Debate on the regulations has been suspended until the next sitting of the house.

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