Plans for workers to access pensions in the works

Premier hints at resolution by next week

A formal plan to allow workers to tap into their pension savings could be announced by next week, according to Premier Alden McLaughlin.

If local pension providers agree to the plan, the extra cash would allow workers to be able to sustain themselves as Cayman weathers the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m hugely optimistic that we’re going to get to a very good place that we’d be able to help a whole lot of people who live and work here,” the premier said at Friday’s daily COVID-19 press briefing.

McLaughlin said he had “very positive” discussions with private sector pension service providers on Thursday about the issue.

“I think that we have a pretty good plan in place. I’m waiting for a formal submission from them on Monday so that we can then look at it, and I can have it discussed by my caucus and my Cabinet,” McLaughlin said.

While the premier said he was not one to announce anything without a solid plan, he said discussions centred around a pension holiday, which is the removal of the obligation for employers and employees to contribute to a pension plan “for the next six months from whatever date we agree on”.

He added, “I think I can see that everybody is on board with respect to that. The other issue is whether or not … employees ought to be allowed to have access to some funds from their respective pension plans over the next little while as we go through these challenges … I think I can see that all of the pension service providers were fine with that and understood that that’s what’s happening all over the world.”

For now, he said, “the devil is in the detail and working out what that ought to be”.

He said any plan would bear in mind the fact that there are huge differentials sometimes between what each set of employees has in their pension funds.

He said this requires coming up with a formula which allows for this to be dealt with “quickly, fairly, and simply”.

McLaughlin said he believes government has made very good progress, but the measure is going to require legislative change as well.

“We are trying to work out how are we going to be able to hold a virtual meeting of the Legislative Assembly, one of those practical things, as well,” he added.

Last month, the Opposition had written to the premier making similar suggestions and expressed a willingness to support such initiatives as they would not create a drain on government’s much-needed resources.

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