SAGICOR Group Jamaica (SGJ) has been appointed to manage the assets of Jamaica's first-ever Tourism Workers Pension Scheme (TWPS), which was officially launched on Wednesday by the Ministry of Tourism.
The scheme, which is expected to benefit over 350,000 formal and informal tourism workers, is described by stakeholders as “a game-changing social safety net” as it will create much greater financial protection for workers in the sector.
Speaking at the launch at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Sean Newman, executive vice-president and chief investment officer, Sagicor Group, said the company is delighted to have been selected as the investment manager for the scheme.
“We thank the trustees and the Ministry of Tourism for placing their confidence in us to manage the assets of this pension scheme on behalf of our country's tourism workers, and we intend to carry out our duty with the same alacrity, tenacity, and transparency that we have extended to all our pension fund clients over the last 50 years,” Newman said.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett estimated that the scheme will create a fund of over $100 billion annually to reinvest into key areas of development.
He noted that the TWPS will not only allow tourism workers to plan for their retirement, but will also enable long-term investment that provides capital formation for the growth of the economy.
“The fund managers, Sagicor, you are the investment guru, and you have [the responsibility] to ensure that this fund accretes, and that it grows at a rate that will give the returns required to strengthen the ability of the workers to benefit more each year," Bartlett said.
Tourism workers between the ages of 18 and 60 years are eligible to register for the fund through the scheme administrators, Guardian Life, and can make their contributions via several payment methods that have been set up by Sagicor. These include online payments as well as in-person at all Bill Express, Paymaster and Sagicor Bank locations. Other financial institutions are expected to come on board soon.
Willard Brown, executive vice-president of the Employee Benefits Division at Sagicor, encouraged tourism workers to take advantage of the opportunity to secure their financial futures, which includes getting appropriate protection from future unexpected medical expenses.
“The onus is on you to ensure that you are protected as much as possible because, as the [novel coronavirus] pandemic has showed us in the last few years, your economic circumstances will not always be predictable. Here is an opportunity for you to put aside some of your current earnings and allow it to grow interest for you to benefit from later in life,” Brown said, adding “Sagicor Life also offers a health insurance plan specifically for hospitality workers, and I encourage you to consider complementing your TWPS enrolment with this when given an opportunity to do so.”
As the largest pension fund managers in Jamaica, Sagicor currently manages more than 30 per cent of the local market.