More than 50 changes to the Cayman Islands National Pensions Law will be brought into effect within the next 18 months, Legislative Assembly members heard Monday.
Employment Minister Tara Rivers, who has oversight responsibility to private sector pensions regulation, was asked Monday whether all the amendments to the law approved this year would be introduced in the 18-month budget period that starts July 1.
“It is anticipated that would be the case,” Minister Rivers said.
The specifics of when each section will come into force are not yet known. Education Ministry Chief Officer Christen Suckoo said the first round of changes would be made public shortly, with a second group to be considered by Cabinet in September.
“Some of the provisions will come into force for Jan. 1, next year, depending on the need to draft regulations and the need to educate [pension] plan members on some of the changes,” Mr. Suckoo said.
Ms. Rivers said once the legal commencement order is approved by Cabinet, it will determine when the sections of the law come into force.
A voter-initiated petition seeking to stop three recent changes to the Cayman Islands National Pensions Law will not be considered by Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office.
The petition, started by businessman Michael Caputo and submitted to the governor, the premier and two independent MLAs on Friday, does not have the required number of voter signatures to force a referendum.
“Pension issues are a matter for the Cayman Islands government,” a statement from the governor’s office noted Monday.
More than 1,250 have signed the petition, but not all are registered voters in the Cayman Islands.
The premier’s office had not made an official statement regarding the petition by press time Monday.
Mr. Caputo, a Caymanian status holder who owns a window-washing business, has said he believes several changes made to the legislation by lawmakers are not “in the best interests of employees in the islands” – as required by section 2 of the National Pensions Law.
Among the specific sections Mr. Caputo’s petition seeks to overturn are the change in the “age of pension entitlement” (retirement age) from 60 to 65 and the change in maximum pensionable earnings from a $60,000 maximum a year to $87,000 a year.
The petition also seeks to overturn a third provision, one that restricts the ability of individuals to receive a refund from their retirement savings account after leaving the islands for two years.
In changes to the law, pension refunds are restricted to amounts totaling less than $5,000 at the discretion of the pension plan manager. In the case of someone who has reached age 65 and cannot place the money earned in Cayman into an analogous retirement savings account overseas, a refund of the full amount can be given.
Under the new law, plan participants who leave the islands for more than two years can put their pension funds into another retirement account, but cannot receive the money as a lump sum.
Mr. Caputo said, “Changing the age of retirement to 65 and giving it a new name [age of pension entitlement] is not for the benefit of employees in the islands.
“Preventing people formerly employed and formerly resident on the island from receiving their pension benefits in a lump sum is not for the benefit of employees in the islands.”