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Positive Responses to Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, discuss aspects of the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’.

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, is reporting positive responses and buy-in from sector workers and stakeholders who are to benefit from the soon-to-be-established Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme.

The scheme, which is expected to come into effect early 2020, is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation, and will require mandatory contribution by workers and employers.

It will cover all workers from 18 to 59 years in the tourism sector, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed. Benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older.

Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, the Minister noted that the public awareness and sensitisation sessions have been bearing fruit with deep interest and enthusiasm from both employees and employers on how the scheme will impact the sector.

“We started out with seminars and have been through all the main resort areas, including Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Kingston and now we are on to the next phase of going to the hotels, then to the attractions and ground transportation,” Mr. Bartlett said, adding that the whole idea is to ensure that the establishment of the scheme is understood by all the workers in the sector.

He said that the sessions have been “very animated with a lot of excitement from everybody and the questions are numerous and practical, so that tells us that there is a deep interest, and for most, a welcoming addition to the sector’s offerings.”

The Minister pointed out that the sensitisation sessions are most crucial, as “once you are asking people to take any amount from their salary, you will have to convince them that they are making the right decision, so the public awareness activities is a big part of the buy-in that we need from all the partners.”

For her part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, pointed out that the public awareness strategy is also a chance to emphasise the importance of saving.

“As a nation, we do not save as much as we ought to, so we are reinforcing the importance of saving for your retirement age…so it is more than just saying it is a retirement fund, join it, but it is also saying, change your entire mindset towards investments and savings and think about your own quality of life after your working years,” Mrs. Griffith highlighted.

She added that the Ministry has rolled out its public education campaign with messages in print, electronic and social media.

“We are also doing one-on-one consultations with all of the tourism subsectors and so far, we have been getting very good attendance and good questions, and we are heartened that what we are doing is something that is very desirable and needed in the sector,” the Permanent Secretary said.

Meanwhile, Minister Bartlett informed that the Ministry is soon to appoint a Coordinator for the pension plan programme, who will be responsible for doing the leg- work across the island to ensure that people understand and, most importantly, sign up.

“The tourism workers’ pension plan is a big deal and we want you all to participate and be a beneficiary of what is the biggest savings instrument that Jamaica could see, as this is a powerful way of demonstrating that tourism is working for you,” the Minister asserted.



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