KINGSTON – The Senate on Friday March 25, passed the National Insurance Validation Amendment Bill 2011, during its sitting at Gordon House.
Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, who piloted the Bill, explained that it aims to validate and confirm the payment of certain benefits made in good faith by persons acting on behalf of the National Insurance Fund (NIF), and the collection of contributions, done in good faith, as well as to indemnify certain persons with respect to those payments and contributions.
Amendments, which Senator Lightbourne said are outlined in the Bill to effect changes to the existing legislation, include: validating and confirming the increase of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) insurable wage ceiling from $500,000 to $1 million per annum, effective August 2, 2010; increasing the national insurance flat rate contribution from $20 to $50 per week, effective August 2, 2010; and collecting national insurance contributions from Members of Parliament, Senators and members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), by way of payroll deduction, up to the insurable wage ceiling, effective August 2, 2010.
Unifying the regularly deemed retirement age for females, under the NIS, from 60 to 65 years, and 60 to 70 years for men, over a period of five years, commencing April 1, 2011, will also be effected.
This means that the qualifying period for a woman to receive an NIS pension still remains at 60 if she retires, but if she works until age 65, that is the time when she will receive the pension. For a man, the qualifying period still remains at 65 if he retires, but if he works until age 70, that is when he will get his NIS pension.
The Bill also seeks to facilitate a 10 per cent bi-annual increase in the NIS benefit, effective July 1, 2012; as well as validate and confirm an expansion of the category of persons eligible for special pensions, effective April 1, 2008, and make a funeral grant payable to the family or personal representative(s) of a deceased special pensioner.
In addition, it seeks to validate and confirm increases in pension payments to special pensioners effective August 18, 2008.
Senator Lightbourne informed that the Bill was initially tabled in the House of Representatives on February 15 this year, and debated and passed without amendment seven days later.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter