Pension Reform Issue A Complex One

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This island???s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, has described the pension reform issue in the Caribbean as a complex one which should not and could not be reviewed with tunnel vision.

Instead, Mr. Sinckler expressed the view that the issue should be explored by technocrats who possessed the competence to see the entire picture, so the most appropriate solutions could be found.

He made the comments today while addressing the Caribbean Association of Pension Supervisors??? 2014 Conference and Annual General Meeting at Hilton Barbados.

Acknowledging that the demographics of Barbados and the Caribbean were changing, he said persons were living longer, having less children and expecting more from Government???s social services.

???These demographical changes are at the heart of the assumptions used for pension planning, and the material change in these circumstances means that those persons administering pension plans have been forced to reform the assumptions used in administering the said plan.

???We have, therefore, seen periods where defined benefit pension plans are no longer popular and have every possibility of actually becoming extinct to new entrants ???. We have seen the underfunded multi-employer plans grow in North America and through the popular establishment of defined contribution plans, we have seen a shifting of the investment risk in a pension plan reform from the employer who is sponsoring the plan, to the employee who is participating and contributing to the plan,??? he stated.

He pointed out that this trend was also being seen in Barbados and disclosed that to date, approximately 300 occupational pension plan applications had been submitted to the Financial Services Commission for registration under the Occupational Pension Benefits Act. According to him, that number comprised 189 Defined Contribution Plans and 98 Defined Benefit Plans.

Mr. Sinckler praised the work of the Financial Services Commission in Barbados, saying he was pleased with its progress. He told his audience that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund had issued a positive review of the Commission last year. ???We still have some way to go, but I think we are on the right track???,??? he stated.

Sixty persons are attending the two-day conference, which has as its theme: Planning and Strategising for Pension Reform.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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