I am delighted to be here today at the heels of our inaugural Retirement Awards Ceremony, which was held a few months ago. As you know, that event will be made an annual permanent feature of our government’s calendar of activities.
That activity, as well as today’s National Symposium on Pension and Pension Reform, ought to be viewed within the context of the modernization of the public service and the adoption of the best available practices in modern management.
Without our public officers there will be no public service – no one to carry out the work of our government. And it is based on our understanding of this fact that my administration has made improving the well-being of Public Officers a priority.
It is in the interest of improved customer care and appreciation for our Public Officers that we have been focusing on needed training of public officers, the updating of our staff orders, the revision of the Public Service Commission Rules and the reform our policy on Pension.
Pension Reform is a germane Policy issue that is currently attracting the attention of many countries around the world. This is mainly due to the ageing crisis occurring across the globe.
Many developing countries are challenged to meet pension requirements. For example, some of you may recall the recent extension of the retirement age in France.
Many economists are projecting that the pension requirements for most developed countries would be staggering. We can expect the problem would be much worse in developing countries.
This scenario is even bleaker against the current situation occasioned by the current economic challenges where the issues of poverty and high unemployment persist. With the overriding need to address current socio-economic problems, catering for the future sometimes does not get the required attention.
In our nation, the issue of pension reform is also a priority topic for public servants, arising out of the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as evidenced by our very presence and deliberations here today, our government is seriously examining the issues surrounding the need for pension reform. We are aware of the many issues and should soon be moving forward with an upgraded, sustainable policy.
Given the increasing entitlements of state pension juxtaposed against high debts, declining revenues, and generally weak fiscal conditions, governments are hard pressed to fully finance pension schemes.
Given this scenario, it’s the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to examine this issue, and to arrive at the optimum solution to adequately address this critical issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly why we/why you are here this morning. To examine the issue; to reflect on the available findings; and to arrive at optimal solutions based on an inclusively consultative process.
The challenge of providing retirement benefits is a complex one that has been largely ignored by many organizations. It is a process that should be planned in concert with one’s early growth and development on the job. Unfortunately, many only begin to pay attention to planning when they are about to retire.
One of the challenges of our Government is to accelerate the preparation of all public servants for this eventuality -- retirement. Adequate planning must begin early so as to enable public servant to meet the many challenges of retirement.
Many countries and companies are discovering that their present structures and allocations arrangements cannot be sustained beyond certain periods. This situation is also of concern in the Caribbean and has been made worse in some instances by the BAICO and CLICO crises.
It is clear that retirement is being redefined. Health promotion and the wellness of employees are now viewed differently. And employees are now expected to share some responsibilities for their retirement and health maintenance.
So going forward, any solution to the reform of our pension and health issues will have to be collaborative in structure. Our Government looks forward to the actual implementation of a policy on this matter. It is our hope that we can bring some equity to our current situation and compensation to those who have provided invaluable service.
To all of you that are present today − our presenter(s), our technocrats, our public servants; concerned citizens of Grenada, one and all – I say thank you; and please continue to play an active role as stakeholders in the building and sustenance of our nation.
May God bless us all.
I thank you.