Govt Pushing for Pension Plan Regulations to be In Place Early 2020

This is according to Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., who moved the Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) (Investment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019 in the Upper House on Friday (Aug. 2). The regulations, which were approved by the Senate, were adopted by the House of Representatives in July. Regulatory amendments, aimed at strengthening the legislative framework to safeguard the assets of pension plans, are expected to be in place by early next year.This is according to Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., who moved the Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) (Investment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019 in the Upper House on Friday (Aug. 2).The regulations, which were approved by the Senate, were adopted by the House of Representatives in July.“Target dates have been set. I know Minister (of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel) Clarke is pushing for them to be done by this year and I would say at latest the early quarter of 2020,” Senator Charles Jr. said.He noted that the amendments, which also aim to broaden the range of permissible assets in which pension plans can be invested, are “critical regulations underpinning this Government’s thrust towards macroeconomic stability.”“As the macro-economic environment in Jamaica has improved and as the Government’s appetite for debt has gone down, pension funds now have assets that they need to invest. The scope of their options and opportunities have, however, been constrained. These regulations are intended to release those constraints while contributing to economic growth,” he said.Senator Charles Jr. noted that the amendments, proposed by the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which is the regulator for the private pension industry, as well as the means of execution “were well researched, and carefully considered.”“These amendments …are perceived to be modest, and the increased risks should be manageable,” he said.The regulations require each pension plan to develop an investment policy and mandates investment managers to invest pension fund assets in a manner consistent with the individual plan’s investment policy, the governing legislation and the regulations.Among other assets, pension plans will now be permitted to invest in bonds issued by companies that have an investment grade rating from a recognised rating agency; and bonds issued by companies listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).Additionally, pension plans will be able to invest in equity or debt of private companies established under the laws of Jamaica, provided that in aggregate, these amounts do not exceed a maximum of five per cent of the assets of the pension fund. This will allow pension funds to invest in private equity and venture capital for the first time.The amendments will provide higher return investment opportunities for pension funds, while improving access to finance, deepening capital markets and providing options for financing outside of the banking sector. Regulatory amendments, aimed at strengthening the legislative framework to safeguard the assets of pension plans, are expected to be in place by early next year. Story Highlights read more

Service Excellence Policy to be Completed by December

Story Highlights The Service Excellence Policy being developed by the Government to improve quality service delivery to citizens, is to be completed by December this year. Critical to the Service Excellence Policy is the development of service improvement plans which all Ministries have been mandated to do. Mr. Robertson informed that the process is expected to be completed by September 30. The Service Excellence Policy being developed by the Government to improve quality service delivery to citizens, is to be completed by December this year.This was disclosed by Principal Director, Modernisation Programme Implementation, Office of the Cabinet, Wayne O. Robertson, who said the policy draft is currently undergoing a review process.He was addressing a ceremony for the handing-over of vision and mission statements to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information at its National Heroes Circle location in Kingston on Thursday (August 29).Mr. Robertson advised that the implementation of the policy, which is part of the Government’s thrust to transform and modernise the operations of the public sector, has already begun informally.The proposed policy will set out the core principles, values, standards, strategies, accountability mechanism, continuous improvement frameworks and service delivery options that will promote and institutionalise service excellence to facilitate consistency in service quality across government.Mr. Robertson said the policy falls under the Service Excellence Programme, a component of the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme being implemented by the Office of the Cabinet, which is focused on creating a more capable and effective public sector.“The service excellence programme encompasses the policy component…The service excellence framework was approved by Cabinet in March this year…we have the mandate from the Cabinet to implement this very important programme,” he said.The aim, Mr. Robertson said is to transform the public sector culture into one that is more customer-oriented.“We can do much better as a public sector. There are some areas of weaknesses in terms of waiting times…payment processes are very arduous, we need to provide solutions online, we need to ensure that we reduce the steps so that we can deliver our service in two steps rather than have 10 or more which currently exists in some entities,” he said.Critical to the Service Excellence Policy is the development of service improvement plans which all Ministries have been mandated to do. Mr. Robertson informed that the process is expected to be completed by September 30.“We have had discussions with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Performance Management and Evaluation Branch of the Cabinet Office. What we want to do is to have the planning and budget call speaking to service improvement and planning as a critical requirement. We want to start that this September when it is issued…it will give us another fillip to move the programme forward,” Mr. Robertson said.In the meantime, Mr. Robertson praised the Education Ministry for embracing service excellence, noting that the changes are already evident.The Education Ministry is the first of three Ministries to receive donations of framed copies of their vision and mission statements. One of 20 was symbolically handed over during the ceremony.Mr. Robertson said these initial hand overs are being done as part of a pilot project, after which it will be rolled out to all Ministries.He noted that the vision and mission statements are critical, because employees of the public sector must know what the vision and mission of their organization are, in order to deliver excellent service.“We need to be guided and so it is imperative that we have those vision and mission statements being prominently displayed in organisations because what you find is if you are prominently placing these in the institutions, you will create a sense of awareness…though simple, it is a very critical criterion to reforming the current culture which exists,” he emphasised.Copies of mission and vision statements are to be handed over to the Ministry of Tourism during a ceremony scheduled for Monday (September 2); while at later date, also in that month, a presentation is to be made to the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Grace Mclean welcomed this initiative which serves to modernise and revamp customer service delivery in public institutionsIn a speech read by Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry, Barbara Allen, the Permanent Secretary expressed the hope that through this transition, “we as a Government will be able to achieve greater efficiency within the public sector and provide greater focus on the ease of doing business in Jamaica”.She further reminded civil servants that they are charged to be a public sector that satisfies customers’ needs “by delivering integrated, responsive and accessible services through expert, respected and accountable professionals”.“Let us not forget, as civil servants, that we are serving the citizens of Jamaica…let’s do all that we can and go above and beyond to serve the needs of our citizens,” she implored.  “Let us not forget, as civil servants, that we are serving the citizens of Jamaica…let’s do all that we can and go above and beyond to serve the needs of our citizens,” she implored. read more