Susan Gordon, Staff Reporter
THE EXPECTED signing of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) on January 30, should permit Jamaicans and other CARICOM nationals to transfer their labour to other CSM-ready states, but not their pension funds.
Taking on a more attractive job elsewhere in the CSM will mean foregoing the period of longevity on your current pension savings and beginning to save anew for your pension.
Although the idea of a CARICOM Single Market and Economy(CSME) has been conceptualised since 1973 in the Treaty of Chaguaramus, CARICOM states are now contemplating how they can transfer pension funds from one country to another, said labour market specialist, Benthan Hussey.
ISSUE BEING DISCUSSED
According to acting deputy director of the Foreign Trade Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Edmond Reid, "No regime has yet been elaborated for this." He made reference to the CSM not yet making provisions for the movement of pension funds throughout the region.
Mr. Reid was speaking at a panel discussion at a seminar themed 'CSME Implications' held last Saturday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. The seminar was hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica.
Mr. Reid explained that the issues regarding the portability of pension funds are presently being discussed and the outcome depended on the financial services policy agreements on the matter. No time frame was given on how soon, if possible pension policies would be harmonised in the region.
PHASE TWO TO COME
"Pensions are becoming more and more portable," said Mr. Hussey, who was also a chief presenter at the conference. He said Barbados is the most advanced CARICOM state in the area of pensions portability as it has more defined contribution plans.
Later this year, the Ministry of Finance and Planning is expected to implement phase two of Jamaica's Pension Act.
Nonetheless, Mr. Reid reminded participants at the seminar that there are provisions for CARICOM public sector workers to collect social security benefits including pension funds.
"From as far back as 1997, a CARICOM Social Security Agreement was established that facilitated movement of social security benefits," said Mr. Reid. "This is still up and running and people who have worked in other Caribbean islands have been collecting their social security benefits".