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Barbados’ new Act should help collect pension data

10/8/2011

There is no industry wide data on the pension sector in Barbados, but a local actuary is suggesting that the new Occupational Pension Benefits Act, should pave the way for such data to be collected.

Principal and Actuary with the firm Eckler Ltd, Lisa Wade made the comments as she spoke about the recently proclaimed Occupational Pension Benefits Act, at the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Barbados South held at the Accra Beach Resort.

Wade, noting that the lack of such data could have implications for the well-being of retirees in this country, said that with all pension plans now being required to register with the Financial Services Commission, it could be seen as the first step to diverting such challenges.

“Right now you would find that you probably have an idea of the number of plans that were registered under the old legislation which is the Income Tax Act, but no one really has any comprehensive idea of the number of persons covered by pension plans or the number of pensioners on the pension plans. So through this Act, they will now start to have information being compiled and collated which hopefully will help persons, or help Government to at least assess any problems they may have down the line in terms of welfare benefits for retirees,” she suggested.

Under the Occupational Pension Benefits Act, Wade explained, the filing of annual returns, which is now mandatory, will also provide regulators with information about the pension plans and allow them to keep track of whether or not the plans are performing as they should be.

Wade said that all employee pension plans have to apply to register by January 31, 2012 and she explained any that were registered under either the Income Tax Act or have applied to be registered under the Income Tax Act, has been provisionally registered under the new Occupational Pension Benefits Act.

However, she explained that the application must still be filled out and submitted before the January 2012 deadline.

She also explained that the new Act has also imposed minimum benefits on pension plans. This, she explained now requires the majority of the employee pension plans to be redrafted, so that they are in compliance with those new provisions.

In that respect, Ms. Wade noted that the plans would have to be revised before the January 2012 registration can be completed and as such, she is urging, administrators of such plans; if they have not done so as yet; to do so as soon as possible. (JRT)

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