Government is to revisit the pension plan policy as it affects public officers who left the service medically unfit, Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn has told Barbados TODAY.
The announcement follows the restoration of the full pension and invalidity benefit to 190 retirees.
Straughn said: “We will make an official statement in respect to pension reform going forward and that is something that we are working on now to ensure that
from an overall fiscal stability perspective that pensions would be addressed in a holistic manner. But yes, we are happy that those persons would be able to live more comfortably.”
He added: “To be it clear the invalidity benefit is actually a pension.
“What I am suggesting is that the reality is when one is retired medically unfit it is a pension based on an actual calculation it is judged by the company to give to National Insurance so it actually is a special type of early retirement so it is reduced as one has to be paid a pension much longer.
“What I am saying is outside of that you are only eligible for that in those circumstances the reason it is given so early because obviously you are in a position where you can also work so, therefore, you have to live on the pension.”
But noting that the disability payment is “separate and distinct” from what the pension may be, Straughn said the Government is to determine the level of benefit specifically to disabled former public officers.
Straughn also lamented the way in which the entire matter was handled.
He told Barbados TODAY: “It is unfortunate the nature of how this thing was communicated to the public because persons were still receiving the National Insurance pensions nevertheless we are going to give it and make the necessary policy announcements.”
Straughn further revealed that for homeowners with mortgages who had become medically unfit Government would have to seek to negotiate a refinance policy with lenders.
“If one would have been granted the mortgage it would have been based on the income you were earning but if you become medically unfit then obviously you will [receive] that pension earlier than normal and we would have to have a policy decision in collaboration with the financial sectors that looks at how these persons will be refinanced as such that the mortgage payment that they would have paid when they were employed how that could be adjusted.”
The Minister declared that Government was “happy” to return the pension to those who had been retired medically unfit, as Government had promised to ensure that disabled members of society are able to provide for themselves.
He said: “Given the nature of the disability, we have given a commitment in our manifesto to threat persons with disabilities who are vulnerable in our society with care and therefore it is something that we are conscious of.
“Obviously, disabilities can happen at any time and that is something that we feel very strongly about for those persons but in terms of the pension arrangements we do have to look and see exactly how we can streamline pension payments and make them separate and distinct from disability payments.”
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