Matters relating to ageing and pensions were discussed at the first ever Regional Pensions Workshop, which was held at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, from October 8 to 9.
Addressing participants at the official opening, Executive Director of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Mr. Rohan Barnett, argued that with CARICOM adopting the Caribbean Regional Charter on Ageing and Health, which called on all governments to acknowledge ageing as an issue of priority in the areas of health and social planning, “the challenge is far too grave for it to be addressed by only the public sector, therefore a sound private pensions industry is not only essential, but urgent.”
As an indication of the urgency and the depth of the challenge, the Executive Director said that it was estimated that only approximately 5 per cent of the labour force in Jamaica is currently saving for retirement.
“Of the approximately 241,000 elderly persons, only 123,329 are receiving some form of retirement benefits. The 123,329 is comprised of 9,512 who are receiving benefits from private pension schemes; another 83,817 are receiving from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and 25,000 former civil servants are receiving benefits from the Accountant General. This means that approximately 49 per cent of elderly persons are dependent on relatives or the charitable acts of individuals and organisations,” Mr. Barnett noted.
Participants at the first Regional Pensions Workshop, which was opened at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, on October 8.
He said that with only six retirement schemes registered and more to come, there has been a significant increase in the advertising of pension services.
“Consequently, Jamaicans are constantly being reminded of the urgency, importance and the different opportunities to plan and save for their retirement. I believe the message will be accepted and soon in Jamaica, we will have a higher percentage of the working population investing for the latter years of their lives. To develop a sound pension industry, it is not sufficient to have increased market activity; we must promote stability and public confidence,” Mr. Barnett stressed.
He expressed the hope that the workshop would greatly assist Jamaica and other participating countries. “We will unearth key factors from other countries’ experience that will help us – as individual countries and collectively as a region- to develop an efficient supervisory framework for the private pension industry,” Mr. Barnett pointed out.
Senior officials from supervisory authorities and agencies in Jamaica and the Caribbean, Australia, Kenya, Belize, Canada and South Africa took part in the workshop.
The workshop was organised in collaboration with the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IAPS) and the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Agency (CARTAC).