Cabinet has approved a six-month extension of the pension holiday, which allows employers and employees not to make their otherwise mandatory monthly pension contributions, until 30 June 2021.

Since the pension holiday began on 1 April, private pension account holders in Cayman have withdrawn $443.5 million in retirement savings this year to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, government amended the National Pensions Law to allow local workers to make withdrawals from their pension accounts to alleviate the financial strain the pandemic has caused.

The emergency-withdrawal scheme meant eligible savers could withdraw up to $10,000 and 25% of the remaining balance from their pension accounts.

The Department of Labour and Pension said, based on statistics it has received so far from pension plan administrators, a total of 46,888 applications have been made. Of these, more than 36,000 have been approved, while 9,909 were rejected.

This means almost half of the 73,000 private pension accounts in Cayman were subject to withdrawals.

Most applications (25,596) were received in May. The ability to withdraw pension funds ended on 31 Oct.

Final statistics for the withdrawals over the six-month period will be available in early January, the department said.

The $443.5 million in withdrawals comes very close to the $450 million estimate made by the Public Accounts Committee after hearing from pension plan providers in June. A report commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Cayman Islands projected the withdrawals to range between $373 million and $512 million.

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