Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Applications for tourism pension scheme to open in September

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 9:56 AM
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett delivering the closing 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on June 15, 2021 – Contributed photo.

The Government will begin accepting applications for the Tourism Workers' Pension Scheme on September 1.

This was announced by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who advised that the Fund Administrator, Guardian Life, is now ready to accept applications for membership into the scheme.

Bartlett further informed that applications may be done virtually or in person.

He made the disclosure while delivering the closing 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Bartlett also indicated that the tourism ministry has revised the timeline for the commencement of employer contributions to the scheme to January 2023.

He said the adjusted timeline is being effected in recognition of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the tourism industry, largely resulting in stakeholders experiencing cash flow challenges.

The tourism minister advised, however, that instead of the initial three per cent to match workers' contributions, employers will be asked to start at five per cent.

Bartlett described this proposal as a “reasonable and acceptable formula” in order to facilitate a “win-win” situation.

He argued that in the process of Jamaica recovering from the economic fallout of COVID-19, “they need the cash flow support to enable growth and deal with their obligations”.

The tourism minister further said that he would be piloting the requisite legislative amendment to facilitate the proposed revisions.

Meanwhile, Jamaican banker, Ryan Parkes, has been appointed Chairman of the Pension Scheme's Board of Trustees.

Bartlett said he succeeds the “very effective” outgoing Chairman, Richard Powell, who “has been called to higher duties as a member of the Bank of Jamaica Board”.

The Tourism Workers' Pension Scheme is in keeping with the Government's focus on creating a social security network within the sector.

It is one component of a three-pronged human capital development plan for industry workers, which includes training and capacity-building.

The pension scheme is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation, and will require mandatory contributions by workers and employers.

It will cover all workers in the tourism sector, from age 18 to 59 years, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed.

They include hotel workers, as well as persons employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions.

Benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older.

The Tourism Ministry provided $1 billion to seed the fund so that immediate benefits can accrue to qualified pensioners who have met the vested five-year period.

- JIS News

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