Prime Minister Says Government will Work to Amicably Resolve Pension Issues

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), observes as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited, Richard Byles (left), explains an interactive chart depicting various aspects of retirement planning which was mounted as part of Sagicor’s Pension Investment Seminar, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, yesterday (February 21). At right is Sagicor Chairman, R. Danny Williams.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring public-sector stakeholders that the Government will work to amicably resolve any issues they may have with proposed pension-scheme reforms.
  • “The posture of the Government will be to work towards resolution and not antagonism. When we are talking about the quality of life in the future for our people, who have worked very hard and are ready to retire, it shouldn’t be on the basis of contention,” he emphasised.
  • In the meantime, the Prime Minister informed that as part of its economic strategy, the Government will be looking at how best to match pension funds with long-term investments, such as infrastructure and real estate.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring public-sector stakeholders that the Government will work to amicably resolve any issues they may have with proposed pension-scheme reforms.

“The posture of the Government will be to work towards resolution and not antagonism. When we are talking about the quality of life in the future for our people, who have worked very hard and are ready to retire, it shouldn’t be on the basis of contention,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister was addressing Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited’s Pension Investment Seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, yesterday (February 21).

Mr. Holness said he has been following the public discourse and listening to the concerns being presented by the various stakeholders, and that a cooperative approach will be taken in addressing these matters.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister informed that as part of its economic strategy, the Government will be looking at how best to match pension funds with long-term investments, such as infrastructure and real estate.

“The best way to secure pension funds is to have them tied into long-term income-generating projects such as infrastructure projects, because the infrastructure will be, around 50 years from now, generating income,” he said, adding that the Economic Growth Council has started to examine how this can be done.

Mr. Holness further noted that he has given a directive to several government entities “to start looking at developing real-estate funds for the development of critical industrial and commercial space, but also the regeneration, redevelopment of much of our urban areas to create the long-term infrastructure that we could have pension funds participate in”.

The entities mandated to undertake this are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Factories Corporation of Jamaica, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and Port Authority of Jamaica.

The Prime Minister pointed out that policy changes will come soon to ensure, facilitate and promote better efficiency in relation to investment “and in terms of how the pension funds structure their assets to align more with the investment infrastructure thrust of the Government”.

“I think there is a symbiotic relationship there that we will benefit now from the investment in the infrastructure, while securing longer-term income and a better quality of life for our retirees and pensioners,” he said.

In addition, the Prime Minister said the Government will be taking a very proactive approach in divestment, which will give further opportunity for participation of pension funds.
Turning to the issue of low pension participation, the Prime Minister encouraged all who have not yet done so to join a formal pension scheme.

“Even if you are not in the formal workforce and you’re self-employed, look about your pension. There are many schemes that are out there which will serve your needs and are affordable and will be adequate for your future needs,” he advised.

Public-sector pension reform is aimed at making the system more affordable and sustainable for the Government, while providing adequate pension benefits.

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