JIS News

The Senate on Friday (Feb. 25) gave its assent to a Bill bringing into force, the provisions under the 1986 Retiring Allowances Act for Parish Councillors.
The Bill, which was piloted by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Senator A.J. Nicholson, seeks to provide benefits to eligible retired councillors, and also serves to grant benefits to the dependents of councillors in the event of death.
In order to have the service counted for pension, councillors will be required to pay contributions for service from January 1, 1986. The Bill allows for the refunding of contributions in certain circumstances, and for councillors to elect where applicable, which pensionable payments may be payable to him under different laws. The legislation further provides for eligibility periods for pensions, widows pensions and otherwise.
Senator Nicholson told members of the Upper House that the Bill was to assist persons, who served at the local government level and to enhance the spirit of local governance. Local government representatives were paid for their services for the first time in 1986, almost 20 years ago.
“Its full time, past time that the Retiring Allowances Parish Councillors Act be brought into force,” he noted, pointing out that prior to 1986, councillors were only paid allowances, making it difficult to have a pension scheme in those circumstances.
Furthermore, Senator Nicholson pointed that local governance should have as its core mission, a community driven agenda, which would drive the reform process before any attempt at entrenchment was made.
Opposition Senator Arthur Williams said that the Bill could attract no controversy as it was to be seen as part of the reform process. He noted that while the provisions were welcome, there were other aspects of the reform process that needed to be addressed.
In 2001, proposals for a pension scheme for parish councillors were submitted to the Cabinet and an approval given on May 6, 2002 for drafting of the Bill to implement the proposals.
The Attorney General said Councillors not currently covered under any pension legislation and who were only eligible for payment of honoraria at this point, would have to serve for a total of eight years or three full terms as provided for in the Bill, to benefit from the provisions.