Gov't moves to allow retirement from 60 onward

Gov­ern­ment is "eye­ing" op­tions, in­clud­ing al­low­ing peo­ple to choose to re­tire at var­i­ous ages from 60 on­wards, in its bid to se­cure the Na­tion­al In­sur­ance (NIS) fund.

But there's def­i­nite­ly no rec­om­men­da­tion or con­sid­er­a­tion to re­duce the NIS pen­sion.

Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of in Fi­nance Alyson West con­firmed the po­si­tions yes­ter­day when asked by the T&T Guardian about re­cent con­cerns about the NIS sys­tem/re­tire­ment age voiced by the Op­po­si­tion and labour lead­ers pri­or to, and dur­ing Labour Day.

UNC MP Rudy In­dars­ingh, dur­ing re­cent de­bate on amend­ments to in­crease pen­sions for leg­is­la­tors, judges, the PM and pres­i­dent, called on Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert to say if Gov­ern­ment would "freeze" the NIS pen­sion at $3,000, whether it would be re­duced in­cre­men­tal­ly over the years by six per cent and whether Gov­ern­ment would in­crease the re­tire­ment age from 60 to 65.

An­oth­er news­pa­per sub­se­quent­ly quot­ed OW­TU's An­cel Ro­get at Labour Day cel­e­bra­tions as an­nounc­ing unions should pre­pare to protest against a "pro­pos­al to raise the re­tire­ment age from 60 to 65." State-owned TTT al­so re­port­ed Ro­get al­so claimed there are "plans by the gov­ern­ment to dras­ti­cal­ly re­duce the NIS pen­sion."

But when asked about it, West dis­put­ed those in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

She said Gov­ern­ment had recog­nised that the NIS fund isn't grow­ing at a suf­fi­cient­ly ro­bust rate to cov­er pen­sions go­ing for­wards. She ac­knowl­edged that the main rec­om­men­da­tions by NIB's com­mit­tee on the is­sue had in­volved in­creas­ing NIS con­tri­bu­tions and in­creas­ing the re­tire­ment age to 65.

But she added while the gov­ern­ment was giv­ing ac­tive con­sid­er­a­tions to those as­pects and is hav­ing stake­hold­er dis­cus­sions, var­i­ous op­tions are be­ing ex­am­ined

"We're look­ing at var­i­ous op­tions; what we'd con­tem­plat­ed start­ing with was grad­u­al­ly in­creas­ing the (re­tire­ment) age to 65. Giv­ing peo­ple the op­tion to re­tire from age 60 on­wards is some­thing that will prob­a­bly be con­sid­ered," she added when asked.

"A lot of peo­ple want to work past 60 be­cause age 60 now isn't like 60 was years ago. So a lot of peo­ple don't mind the op­tion to con­tin­ue work­ing,"

"One has to con­sid­er in­sti­tu­tion­al mem­o­ry and ex­per­tise be­ing lost if peo­ple all re­tire at age 60. But this would have to be bal­anced against giv­ing young grad­u­ates the op­por­tu­ni­ty to en­ter the work­force - so we're look­ing at the whole pic­ture,"

In her view, she said the pen­sion is­sue needs to ex­am­ined holis­ti­cal­ly and not on­ly the NIS as­pect alone, "The cost of se­nior cit­i­zens' pen­sion is al­so an as­pect that needs ex­am­in­ing and pub­lic ser­vants' pen­sions al­so need to be ex­am­ined," West said, adding that if one area is ad­just­ed, oth­er as­pects may be­come im­bal­anced.

Con­tact­ed on his thoughts on a stag­ger­ing lev­el of re­tire­ment ages from 60 on­wards, In­dars­ingh said he'd have to ex­am­ine that.

- by Gail Alexander

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