Roper assents to pensions changes

Changes to Immigration, Traffic and Customs and Border Control law also assented

Changes to Cayman’s Pension Law are expected to take effect this week, according to Premier Alden McLaughlin.

That is once the amendments, which were passed in the Legislative Assembly last week, completes the final process for gazettal.

On Monday evening Governor Martyn Roper tweeted that he has given his assent to the changes as well as the other legislative amendments passed by lawmakers.

Governor Roper had just hours before at the daily COVID-19 press briefing committed to signing the law changes “the second it hits my desk.”

“I gave assent to the bills passed by the Legislative Assembly’s historic virtual session last week, including the Pensions Law. It will hopefully be gazetted tomorrow [Tuesday,]” Roper tweeted.

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Under the changes individuals will be allowed to withdraw the first $10, 000 from their private sector pension funds and an additional 25% on the remaining amount after that.

It also grants an automatic six-month pension holiday for private sector employees. Those who wish to continue to make contributions can do so, but it will be allocated as voluntary.

On Monday McLaughlin, responding to queries on when the changes will make its way to Governor Roper for his assent, said the timing for that to happen is not in his hands.

“We passed the law. The process has to take its course. It has to go to through the clerk, it has to go through the AG [Attorney General] and we wait on the Governor to sign it and then to be gazetted. But it’s only a matter of days, it will be sometime this week… early this week I would expect,” McLaughlin said.

They were at the time addressing the COVID-19 daily press briefing where concerns from the public were raised that some pension providers have been saying they have experienced system problems, in particular email issues and are unable to be reached to send requests for pension access.

The premier urged individuals to reach out to the Director of the Department of Labour and Pensions with their concerns.

“If they can’t get through by email, they should try to deliver a hardcopy around. But if there are issues like this I would hope that they would write to the Director of the Department of Labour and Pensions to make these complaints so that we can follow them up. There really is no good reason, I think, why email system should be down,” McLaughlin said.

He also pointed out that under the law the pension providers have seven days to acknowledge receipt of the application for access to the funds and following that they have 14 days to “respond yay or nay” to the application and 45 days to deliver the funds.

The terms of the form to request the withdrawal is determined by the Director, he added.

The premier said civil servants who may have private sector pensions from previous employment can apply to access their funds.

However, he said members staff at statutory authorities or government companies are public servants and while they may be paying into a private sector pension they are “expressly exempted from the provisions of the legislation.”

This means they cannot access their fund nor do they qualify for the pension holiday.

“So, if Cayman Airways has a pension scheme with Silver Thatch to which money is contributed on behalf of the employer and on behalf of the employee that continues,” he said.

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