Tourism Workers’ Pension Plan expected by June – Bartlett
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett
The highly anticipated pension scheme for tourism workers is expected to become a reality by June of this year, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, has indicated.
Speaking at the Melia Braco Village Staff Awards 2017 on Monday, Bartlett said: "By June of this year we will have our pension plan properly installed, and our workers will have that final loop of security that we are providing," Bartlett revealed.
"We are now on the final leg of securing the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme which I have been talking about from the first time I became minister 10 years ago."
The tourism minister poured cold water on the notion that the previous People's National Party (PNP) Administration had put in all the groundwork for the implementation of the pension scheme before demitting office.
"I want to dispel the false notion that all was ready for the pension plan to be rolled out two years ago. I just want to clear the air on that, because two years ago we had to take the idea right back to Cabinet," Bartlett said.
"But during the last two years we have done the real hard work of doing the sensitisation across the island, visiting the hotels and speaking to the stakeholders and the workers as well, and going through with all the legal requirements to put the draft legislation together."
As a result, he said a 191-page legislation is ready, and the process to ensure that "everybody understood that this pension scheme was going to be a compulsory contributory scheme" is under way.
He pointed out that a hurdle to the implementation of the pension scheme for tourism workers was to secure a $1 billion seed funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) so that "people who became part of the pension plan, even though they were over 50 and soon retire, would still be able to get a benefit, a minimum of $200,000 per year."
He also explained that when the Financial Services Commission (FSC) was selected to provide oversight for the establishment of the scheme, legislation had to be sought to obtain an amendment to the FSC Act.
"But the Financial Services Commission, we understand, had no experience in providing oversight for a pension scheme like this, because this is a scheme that is driven by legislation. The other schemes, in the private sector, are not. But this one is driven by a legislation, so we had to now get an amendment to their act in order to be able to have them do that," he explained.
"Now that amendment is being done, and while the amendment is being done, we have sent the draft legislation to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel."