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Pension funds eyed for infrastructure development

Published:Tuesday | February 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaks with President and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica Richard Byles (right) at the Sagicor Life pension investment seminar held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston, on Tuesday, February 21.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is again signalling his administration's intention to leverage private pension investments into national development.

Holness is arguing that pension fund investment in infrastructure can spur economic activity and growth while ensuring a good stream of income for investors.

The private pension pool was last valued at $425 billion.

"In the very near future, there will be policy changes to ensure, facilitate and promote a better allocative efficiency in terms of investment and how the pension funds structure their assets to align more with the infrastructure investment thrust of the Jamaican Government," the prime minister said Tuesday at the opening ceremony for Sagicor Life's annual pension investment seminar.

Holness emphasised that the Government wants to see a wider and deeper participation of the entire workforce in pension schemes, noting that he is not satisfied with the reported nine per cent rate of participation in private funds.

He otherwise urged co-operation among stakeholders in addressing government pension reform, under which state-paid workers will be required to start contributing at least five per cent of their pay to a pension scheme in a scenario where most now make minor contributions to their retirement, or none at all.

The reform plan is receiving heavy pushback from public-sector unions, but Holness insists the pension bill currently before Parliament is aimed at achieving reform that is good for everyone, while signalling that his administration is open to discussions.

"We want to take a co-operative approach to solving whatever issues there may be in the public sector as it relates to the transformation and reform of pensions that is taking place now," the PM said.


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