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    • Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, is appealing for more Jamaicans to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
    • He said there is need to extend pension coverage to a greater percentage of the employed labour force.
    • Dr. Phillips was addressing a session of the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) Labour Market Forum 2014 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on December 10.

    Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, is appealing for more Jamaicans to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

    He said there is need to extend pension coverage to a greater percentage of the employed labour force.

    “Despite the significant gains that we have been making, the NIS, which has a range of coverage, is still in a sense, not attracting the participation of the numbers that we would like to see,” he noted.

    Dr. Phillips was addressing a session of the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) Labour Market Forum 2014 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on December 10. The two-day forum, which began on Tuesday, December 9, saw the dissemination and analysis of findings of an actuarial review of the NIS.

    He informed that recent data shows that only about 22 per cent of the working age population or 40 per cent of the employed labour force have some form of pension coverage.  Of this 40 per cent, 13 per cent are public sector workers.

    In comparing these figures to the wider Caribbean context, Dr. Phillips said some 68 per cent of the working age population in Barbados are covered by pension schemes, 62 per cent in Grenada, and 55 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago.

    In developed countries, approximately 75 per cent of the working age population are covered by pension schemes, while the rate is 33 per cent in developing countries.

    Mr. Phillips argued that it is therefore important that the scheme is widened to accommodate a greater portion of the country’s population. He noted that this is particularly important in light of the increase in the older population.

    “If we are to stave off the prospect of declining incomes among the elderly, destitution in old age, and face the challenge of maintaining a quality of humaneness in the society as a whole, we will have to extend pension coverage to a greater percentage of the employed labour force,” he said.

    Dr. Phillips, therefore, urged more persons and businesses to register with the NIS and to start their contributions.

    He said an important challenge that the government faces is to find ways to strengthen the NIS and the National Insurance Fund (NIF) in order to facilitate a greater rate of participation.

    The NIS, which was established in 1966, is the contributory component of the country’s social protection system.

    The range of benefits under the scheme include employment injury benefits, maternity allowance for domestic workers, special anniversary pension, health insurance, funeral and other grants.

    Organised by the PIOJ, the Labour Market Forum 2014 is being staged in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Labour Market Information Technical Advisory Committee (LMITAC); HEART Trust/NTA; and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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