Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
INTEREST IN public-sector pensions has soared to unprecedented levels, minister without portfolio in the finance ministry, Horace Dalley, has said.
Dalley, who was closing the debate yesterday on a report from a joint select committee of Parliament which considered options for public-sector pension reform, said recommendations were still being made by persons despite the committee having already concluded its work.
"Maybe the public did not believe that we were serious about reforming the pensions system, because since I tabled the report, we have had more interest placed in knowing about what is in the report and wanting to meet with the staff and the technical people and ministers in the ministry about public-sector pension reform," Dalley said yesterday.
The minister was closing the debate on the report, which has proposed, among other things, that the Government retain the defined benefit model as it is felt that the "benefits would be adequate and the operations of the new arrangement would be transparent and efficient".
Further demonstrating the significant sudden interest in public-sector pension, Dalley noted that the life of the committee was at one point extended by one month so as to encourage members of the public to make submissions.
"Now that they realise it is full speed ahead on pensions reform and moving towards its implementation, the interest has been tremendous," Dalley said.
Public-sector pension reform and tax reform are critical planks on which an agreement with the International Monetary Fund will be built. Dalley noted that there is a crisis of sustainability with pensions as many current public-sector workers do not contribute to their pensions.
WORKERS TO CONTRIBUTE
It has been proposed that public-sector workers will contribute five per cent of their salaries to their pension.
"We are determined, as an administration, that all new entrants to the public service come January 1, 2013, must start to pay into their pension retirement fund," Dalley said yesterday.
The retirement age for all workers will also be raised from 60 to 65 years, except for members of the security forces.
The House adopted the report of the committee following contributions from members Mikael Phillips, Peter Bunting, Pearnel Charles, Fitz Jackson and Ken Baugh, who participated in the debate that spanned three weeks.
"When we come back to lay the White Paper, I am sure that some of the changes, and suggestions, recommended by the civil service association, the trade unions … some will be reflected in the White Paper," Dalley said.