BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - AS Social Security celebrates its 46th Anniversary, Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew has called on all employers and self-employed persons to be more responsible for their obligations to the Fund.
In a recent speech to celebrate the Anniversary, Dr. Drew, who is the Minister with Responsibility for the Fund, made a plea to both employers and the self employed “to remain compliant and respond to your obligations to Social Security so that you and those under your charge can have access to Social Security benefits in sickness, maternity, retirement, and others”.
“I encourage all employees to pay keen attention to Social Security matters, particularly as they relate to one’s contribution status,” Dr Drew said.
Over the last several years, the Social Security Board found that a number of employers and self-employed persons have been flouting the regulations, and actions were taken to ensure they become compliant.
“Social Security is an important aspect of any civil society, and my Government is committed to its continued robust growth and meaningful contributions to our existence,” Dr added.
Concerns were raised over the level of payouts from the Fund as the intakes do not match those numbers. And among the attributes to this situation are the level of people employed and the dwindling size of the population.
Health officials have cited that the number of births in the Federation have been on the decline in recent years, raising an issue over the long term impact it would have on the sustainability of the Fund.
“As a mature Fund, now in its 46th year of existence, and standing with reserves of over $1.724 billion, the Fund has proven its mission to provide the best possible benefits to all eligible persons…the Social Security Fund has withstood the challenges of growth, economic activity, and pandemics including Covid 19, whereby the Fund expended over $25 million to contributors whose livelihoods were affected. Just last year in 2023, the Board paid $141.7 million (unaudited) in benefit expenditure across the benefit types,” the Prime Minister revealed.
Despite that, there is an acknowledgment that there is a critical need “to bolster and reinforce the current structure in order to advance transformational reform”.
“To summarise, the (actuarial) reports assert that Social Security’s current state to meet its obligations to pay benefits is sound. However, with increased life expectancy, improved standard of living, and acknowledging the intricacies of a maturing Fund, it would be fiscally irresponsible to ignore the call to reform the structure of Social Security. Without a recalibration of its operational structure, our robust Fund can be depleted by 2040 or thereabout,” Dr. Drew explained.
Throughout 2024, Social Security will enhance its public education and sensitization programmes to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the goals and objectives of the entity and the Roadmap to Reform.
It was against that backdrop, Prime Minister Drew reiterated his call for all to be committed to their obligations and ensure they contribute to the Fund.
“As Minister with Responsibility for Social Security matters, I make an earnest plea to employers and the self-employed to remain compliant and respond to your obligations to Social Security,” Dr. Drew pleaded.
As it turns 46, Social Security is expected to make several internal changes that would streamline its operations to ensure that it would be more sustainable to provide services to all who need benefits.