Caribbean

Parliament in Jamaica Passes Legislation to Establish Country’s Largest Single Pension Plan

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the scheme for tourism workers will be the largest single pension plan in Jamaica and, arguably, the Caribbean. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Wednesday July 26, 2019
– The
House of Representatives has passed the Tourism Workers Pension Bill, which
seeks to establish a defined contribution pension scheme for hospitality
industry workers.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said
the scheme will be the largest single pension plan in Jamaica and, arguably,
the Caribbean, and a landmark development for the country’s workforce.

“It will involve in excess of 300,000
workers which will represent one-fifth of the total workforce of Jamaica. That
accumulation of affordable capital will present an opportunity for investment
and for capital distribution for all sorts of development in the country,” he
said.

The Minister said the Government is
“excited about the prospect of Jamaica offering to the world, a model of social
security for the workers of the tourism industry”.

He further noted that it represents the
Administration’s commitment to the social market arrangement, which aims to
ensure that the appropriate legislation and regulations are developed to
protect the vulnerable.

Bartlett argued that the Bill and, by
extension, the scheme is coming at time when the sector is experiencing
unprecedented growth.

“Globally, the trends are there that 1.4
billion visitors are going across borders; last year, they spent US$1.7
trillion in more than 200 countries. You recall that here, in Jamaica, we broke
all records, and last year, we had US$3.3 billion earned from just over 4.3
million visitors,” he said.

The legislation will come into effect by
an appointed day notice made by the Minister and published in the Gazette

The pension scheme will require
mandatory contributions by workers and employers, with benefits payable at age
65 years or older.

The Financial Services Commission will
have regulatory oversight of the scheme, in accordance with the provisions of
the Tourism Workers Pension Act, the Pensions (Superannuation Funds and
Retirement Schemes) Act, and the Financial Services Commission Act.

The scheme’s establishment is consistent
with the Government’s focus on creating a social security network within the
tourism sector.

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

Some of the persons who will benefit include: rafters, craft traders, bus and taxi drivers, spa operators, housekeepers, and groundsmen who are not directly employed in tourism, and are self-employed in some cases.

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