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Opposition Senator Basil Waite, is proposing that the Government considers developing a Child Equal Opportunity Trust as a means of providing financial stability for the nation’s youth.
The objectives of the Fund he said, would be to give each child the opportunity for a decent start in life; to kick start an attitude of saving and investment; and to seek to break the cycle of poverty in Jamaica.
“Conceptually, the Child Equal Opportunity Fund is a long term savings-and-investment programme for persons from birth to 22 years of age, with a view of investing today in the financial security of future generations,” Senator Waite said.
The Opposition Senator was speaking during his contribution to the 2008/09 State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House on Friday (July 4).
He explained that under the Trust, the Government would establish a facility similar to the National Insurance Fund. He proposed that at the birth of every child, the Government should make an installment of $30,000 and, thereafter, make additional deposits of $15,000 at age six, and $7,500 at age 11, for children who were born to parents who are below the poverty line.
Senator Waite submitted that the parent would be mandated to match the Government’s initial installment within three years and within seven years for those who fall below the poverty line.
“All parents, guardian, family friends can contribute to a child’s fund over the lifetime of the fund up to a maximum of $2 million. However an annual limit as regards amounts deposited will be instituted so as to prevent persons from using the trust accounts irresponsibly,” he said.
At age 18 the beneficiary can access 30 per cent of the Fund for specific purposes such as education, training, and the remaining may be accessed at age 22 for other specific purposes.
In addition to increasing the savings rate in the country, the Trust would provide billions of dollars for private investment in the economy during the life of the Trust and at its expiration, he said.
“The general idea is to kick-start saving and investment. Hence parents, guardians and friends are encouraged to make deposits to this Trust. This will allow them, both parent and child, to better plan for their financial future,” Senator Waite said.
He emphasized that the Trust would be a “positive for the country as a whole not just the beneficiaries of the programme, as the Trust is one sure way that we can invest in our youth to secure Jamaica’s future.”