Pensions Industry Association celebrates auto-enrolment legislation, other achievements

President of the Pensions Industry Association of Jamaica (PIAJ) Sanya Goffe recently told member associations that the association has much to celebrate with the achievement of key objectives to drive pension penetration and the protection of the industry. The president at a recent luncheon held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston listed some of the achievements and milestones of the organisation within the last year, starting with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service’s nod to the proposal for automatic enrolment of Jamaicans.

“First and foremost, let’s give ourselves a round of applause for our relentless advocacy of the Automatic Enrolment proposal. For those unfamiliar, Automatic Enrolment is a game-changing initiative designed to ensure more people save for retirement by automatically enrolling eligible workers into retirement schemes. Think of it as the “set it and forget it” of the pension world – convenient and essential,” Goffe told the gathering.“The proposal has not only garnered wide-scale industry endorsement but also received the green light from the Ministry of Finance to be implemented into law. That’s right, folks, we’ve hit the legislative jackpot!” she continued.

The PIAJ’s mandate is twofold. It focuses on deepening financial literacy in the area of retirement security for all Jamaicans to increase pension/retirement scheme participation, and it works with regulators and the Government to implement legislative and regulatory reform to protect the industry. Given the multifaceted nature of the PIAJ’s objectives, Goff said the association is focused on several areas as it advocates for improvements in the industry while addressing the concerns of its members.

“So, a big win for us is the green light by the minister of finance to move for auto-enrolment to be implemented into law, and while we know the legislative corridor will take years, it’s a major milestone see that,” she told Our Today following the luncheon. When asked about the projected time for implementation, PIAJ president expressed optimism that the legislation will be crafted, passed and gazetted in the next two years, noting that the submission  “has to join a queue of laws” that are set to be passed in Parliament. She added that the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service will have to undertake some steps before submitting the law to the Cabinet.

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Goffe is confident that the passing of such legislation will help move the needle of employed Jamaicans enrolled in a pension scheme or retirement fund from a low of 18 per cent. That number she said includes public and private sector employees as well as those enrolled in the Tourism Workers Pension Scheme.

While noting that the current registration for pension is “woefully inadequate”, the PIAJ president said that the implementation of auto-enrolment into law could push the number of Jamaicans with pension protection up to between 30 and 50 per cent. Within the auto-enrolment programme, companies would not be mandated to contribute to the payments of employees. However, they would be required to pay over pension contributions on behalf of their employees.

Within the last year, the PIAJ has held three workshops on the implications of the Data Protection Act Workshops for pension fund managers. “[We are] helping our members navigate the increasingly complex world of data privacy and assist with preparedness in becoming compliant with the Data Protection Act. It’s not all encryption and firewalls—sometimes it’s just about keeping the sticky notes with passwords off your desk,” she explained. “We’ve also been active participants in stakeholder consultations with the Bank of Jamaica and the FSC on the Twin Peaks Supervisory Model — no relation to the TV show, though sometimes it feels just as dramatic,” she added.

Goffe has also extended her reach across the Caribbean, having been a guest speaker at the Caribbean Association of Pension Supervisors Conference and participated in the FSC and British High Commission’s webinar on Fintech & Artificial Intelligence in the pension industry. “When cyber-attacks loomed large, we met with the FSC to discuss implications and future safeguards.  Our meetings with the Minister of Labour and the industry regulators ensure that our concerns and innovations are heard at the highest levels,” she stated. The PIAJ has also maximised traditional and social media to advance it advocacy. The president has had interviews on Caribbean Business Exchange, Jamaica Information Service’s ‘Get the Facts’, among other platforms. At present, the PIAJ is refreshing its website to be more user-friendly and become a hub “for all things pensions-related”.

“Our commitment to keeping you informed hasn’t wavered, with regular newsletters and email updates. We’ve submitted crucial input to the Office of the Information Commissioner on the Data Protection Act and we will continue to lobby for the removal of criminal penalties for trustees who are data controllers,” Goffe shared at the luncheon. “We made persuasive submissions advocating for the removal of maximum pension limits—because your retirement shouldn’t have a ceiling!  Based on communication received from the Ministry of Finance, the Income Tax Act is to be amended to remove the maximum pension limits in DC plans and while the limit is expected to remain in DB plans, an additional pension will be allowed from accrued voluntary contributions,” she added. The PIAJ president also recognised the input of the association’s directors and committee members for contributing to the achievements.

Editor: Josimar Scott via: