JIS News

Executive Director of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Brian Wynter, has said that since the passage of the Pension Act three months ago, more persons were coming forward to register complaints about their pension schemes.
Mr. Wynter, who was speaking at the FSC community interactive talk held on Wednesday (June 15) at the Lion’s Civic Centre in Portmore, St. Catherine, said members have complained that they were “threatened” because they refused to sign documents with which they were not in agreement, or fully understood.
There were also reports of undue delays in the payment of benefits; the failure of the sponsor over a number of years to pay over employers’ and employees’ contributions; information being withheld from members; pension plans being in an inactive state for years, while trustees cannot be located; pension funds being terminated and members not being refunded their contributions and matured benefits not being paid.
“This is what the complainants are saying. Clearly, we will be operating a process and will not just take what somebody says and leave it there. There is always more than one side to every story,” he said.Mr. Wynter noted however, that the complaints received were useful since the organization had become more aware of some of the issues facing the pension industry. “It is very important that the persons, whom these provisions are to benefit know about it, know that if you are facing a situation you are not alone and that you are entitled under the law to have the Financial Services Commission take on your concern and we are obliged to do something about it,” he stated.
Further, he pointed to an industry where workers have had their benefits held in abeyance for almost a decade and have not been paid.
“Many of these workers and beneficiaries are not aware of their rights to claims under the particular pension fund, because neither the trustees at the time nor the administrator or investment manager, have actually taken any action to ameliorate the situation, so they just don’t even know,” he said, adding that on some occasions, members have to go before the courts to resolve difficulties with trustees.
The Executive Director told the meeting that the FSC could not take any action until the Regulations, which were tabled and approved by the House of Representatives early this year, were approved by the Senate.
In the meantime, he said, the FSC has been focusing its efforts on the development of procedures to facilitate an efficient and seamless registration process for pension funds and retirement schemes. The Commission was also developing criteria for responsible officers and trustees, Mr. Wynter said, and for the licensing of administrators and investment managers.
The Pension (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Scheme) Act 2004 was passed in September last year and was brought into effect by the Ministry of Finance on March 1, 2005.
Other speakers at the event were Senior Director of Pensions, FSC, Nicolette Jenez; Complaints Investigator, Bernard Richards; and Mayor of Portmore, George Lee, who brought greetings.

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