Tourism Ministry Plans Social Security Net for Workers


The Ministry of Tourism is moving to improve the long term socio-economic environment within the tourism industry, through introduction of a retirement plan and pension scheme for workers within the industry.
The first of three planned public education fora, aimed at increasing awareness among tourism industry employers and employees, about pensions and retirement planning, was staged by the Tourism Ministry at the Iberostar Hotel, in Lilliput, St. James, on Wednesday (May 19).
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in addressing the forum, explained that the implementation of a social security net for workers within the industry has been a policy position within the government and his Ministry.
He said that “with all the best will in the world,” the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) does not have the capacity to supply the kind of social security needed for workers within the industry and, as such, something else is needed to give a sense of security to the workers now, and an arm on which to lean on when they grow older.
Four service providers were introduced at the forum as being shortlisted for negotiations to provide the pension plan, and Mr. Bartlett outlined some objectives of the plan.
“The key objective of this pension plan is to provide a safety net for those who have given of themselves to this industry; hard workers, conscientious workers,” he stressed.
Adding that workers within the tourism industry are not among the best paid in the island, he insisted that because of that fact their future could not be left to providence, after they retire.
He noted that while some companies within the tourism sector have pension plans, the vast majority do not make such provisions for their workers.
“In fact, I am looking at some statistics that suggest that the tourism sector accounts for a marginal total of 2 .1 percent of the total number of pension plans within Jamaica today, and that indicates the great need that we have for growth in this particular area, and to involve a wider number of our people,” he emphasised.
He said that with life expectancy rising, it is going to be even more important to have a strong protection plan for life after retirement.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith, described the pension plan as in keeping with the Ministry’s goal of trying to facilitate a more productive tourism workforce, and to maintain the island’s competitive position within tourism markets.
She outlined that a process was embarked on to identify the service providers offering the best suited plan for the tourism industry, and introduced representatives from Scotia Insurance, Jamaica National Fund Managers Limited, NCB Insurance Limited and Guardian Life Limited as the selected service providers that the Ministry will be working with to establish the Pension Plan within the tourism industry.
The public education programme to inform employers and employees about plans for the pension schemes will continue on Thursday (May 20), in Ocho Rios, and on Wednesday (May 26) in Kingston.

JIS Social