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Pension scheme for tourism workers by mid-2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says the much-anticipated Tourism Workers' Pension Scheme should be up and running by mid-2018.

He said that the pensions committee, which is chaired by retired actuary, Daisy Coke, is moving steadily towards completing the preliminary processes related to the scheme.

“Finally, the long-awaited pension plan is now on the horizon. Yesterday (March 18), we had two sensitisation sessions with the workers; having completed the sessions with the employers and having done the necessary legislative arrangements up to the point where we are now ready for the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to review and to send it in its complete form to the Parliament,” he noted.

“My timetable with the permanent secretary and the team led by Daisy Coke is to have this ready for Parliamentary approvals by the middle of the year and to put ourselves in a position to be able to say to the workers of Jamaica, 'finally, here is your pension plan, God bless you on your retirement',” the minister said.

He was speaking at the Tourism Service Excellence Awards (TSEA) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Saturday.

Bartlett noted that Jamaica's tourism is no longer regarded as a “seasonal industry” but that the island is deemed an “all-round destination where the workers now have sustainable jobs”.

As a consequence, he said, the Government is looking at the labour market arrangements “to review that to reflect the permanence and the professional status of the workers of this industry”.

Government Senator Don Wehby, who was the keynote speaker at the event, pledged to do his part in the Senate to ensure swift passage of the pension legislation.

“I was very heartened to hear that the Pension Act is almost there. It has been long in coming, but what I will say to you, wearing my hat as a Senator, I am willing and waiting and ready to sign it when it reaches the Upper House. If you are going to take care of your greatest asset, you have to ensure they are engaged, motivated,” he pointed out.

Bartlett, in the meantime, commended the Tourism Service Excellence awardees, noting that the success of Jamaica's tourism sector is highly dependent on the service provided by its workers. He said that surveys conducted with multiple repeat guests reveal that the treatment from staff is among the key reasons they continue to make Jamaica their home away from home.

“I celebrate you. And when the concept was born of giving recognition to service, it was because we recognised that 60 per cent of the value of the experience of every visitor to Jamaica is service, and because service differentiates and separates us. Good service is opinionated and leaves a conversation on the lips of the visitors forever,” he said.

“We felt that if we found good service, we should recognise it, we should isolate and identify it, we should showcase it and we should honour it, and that is exactly what 'Team SEA' is about,” Bartlett added.

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