JIS News

The Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) Act was passed in the Senate last Friday (March 17), to provide a regulatory framework for the management of superannuation and retirement schemes and give the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the authority to supervise trustees and other persons involved in the management or operation of these funds.
In his contribution to the debate, Leader of Government Business and Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, stressed that the changes to the pension legislation, were in fact, being made to better protect the pensioners.
He noted that the fact that government undertook a review of pension arrangements in the island, and brought a bill to Parliament to deal with the management of pensions, reflected seriousness on the government’s behalf.
Senator Whiteman further dismissed arguments from the Opposition, that “we are not treating this thing seriously and all we are doing is taking away the money from pensioners, who need their money.”
“I want to refute the argument that what we are about, by virtue of having a FSC, which is regulating and which needs money to run its operations and has put a levy of some kind of the asset base of the investment funds, is some attempt to deny pensioners of what is rightfully theirs and starve them of funds, which could otherwise be coming to them,” he said.
He explained that the purpose of the regulations was to ensure that the funds were properly managed, and therefore, “if you are dealing with that exercise, somebody has to fund it, and unless the funding of it is going to put the whole operation at risk, one has to accept there is going to be a method of funding, which would include the levying on some aspect of the regulation.”
Under the revised Act, the FSC would be the responsible regulatory body for all operating pension funds in the island, and charge 0.01 per cent of all existing funds to oversee them. The FSC would be called upon to review the fee within a two-year period.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Shirley Williams, raised concern about a number of provisions in the Act, including the 60-day time frame during which trustees must send in their investment policies and the 14 days provided for breaches of the code of practice to be reported to the FSC. She noted that the time frame, in both cases, was too short.
Senator Williams also said that stakeholders objected to a regulation, which called for appraisals to be done, with an individual fund and its members being required to pay for the appraisals.
Senator Trevor Munroe, in his contribution to the debate, defended the action taken by the government in making amendments to the pensions legislation, explaining that prior to the proposed changes, a committee was formed that examined the operation of schemes and how to better regulate them.