Opposition calls for pension access

| 23/03/2020 | 76 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): Opposition members are urging government to introduce a suspension on the mandated pension regime for six months and to amend the law to allow people in the private sector to take up to $850 per month from their own pension fund until September. They are also asking government to find a way to address the substandard and crowded housing situation here that now presents a serious public health risk in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opposition Leader Arden McLean said that the spread of the novel coronavirus and the subsequent measures that have been take means that the Cayman Islands must now address some of the worst social failings to ensure that the poor are properly protected.

In a letter to the premier, McLean said that in order to slow the spread of the virus government must address the poor living conditions for many people.

“Whilst we are indeed living in unprecedented times, it also gives us an opportunity to re-write several policies that were unfair and frankly did nothing to address the hardship being faced by our people,” McLean said, adding that government must face the “uncomfortable knowledge that we have many people living in overcrowded and substandard living conditions”.

The opposition leader called on government to explore the possibility of re-housing people living in overcrowded places in the empty hotel and condo rooms. He also suggested that government increase the “Hardship Allowance” and ease the requirements to qualify for this allowance, as well as require insurance companies to put people before profit and activate the price gouging control law.

The leader and his members all agreed that, in addition to these measures, one of the best ways to help people would be addressing the private sector pension regime.

Chris Saunders the member for Bodden Town noted that no one knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last.

“It is imperative that people have access to their cash and not be dependent on the government. We have mandated that people save for the rainy days, albeit in their retirement age,” he said. “This crisis is a tsunami.”

The opposition are calling for a pension holiday as well as allowing private sector employees to take up to CI$850 from their fund and also allowing business owners to access their personal pensions to alleviate business related financial hardships. Saunders said this was the right time to do this, given the state of the overseas financial markets.

“With the markets in free fall and interest rates being close to zero, there is no point in asking people to invest over there when we need the money now at home, here in the Cayman Islands,” Saunders said.

At the daily press briefing on Friday, the premier said he planned to include members of the opposition this week in discussions about how government can help Caymanians and keep the economy afloat until the health crisis passes.

The issue of a pension holiday and allowing people to draw on existing funds has been raised by the public for several weeks and the premier has stated that this is an issue between employers and their pension provider.

Although Premier Alden McLaughlin stated that government could not sort this out, it was the government that created the mandatory regime through its legislation, which also provides for a pension holiday under certain circumstances and outlines the rules surrounding early access to funds.


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Category: Business, Local News

Comments (76)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These pension funds are little more than legalized poni schemes. The only people that truly benefit over time are the fund managers.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I dont understand why it’s so hard for us to get access to our pension in this time of crisis….when slot of us might not even live to the age of 65 and most of these pension companies give people the run around when they try to claim pension after death. What about people who have left the island without their pension and may never get it..people are indeed of their pension at this time as many of us will not have an income as of next month…and it’s not easy to just pack up and leave as some persons seem to think it is….and another thing if y’all don’t want expats living and working in your country then teach your young people to stick to their jobs and ACTUALLY turn up for work!

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  3. M McLaughlin says:

    The CI government was warned years ago to reform how pensions are administered in Cayman Islands.

    There were many things the government could have done starting in 2008 after the last crisis to protect people’s pensions! The financial crises will be getting worst until the bottom drops out.

    Unfortunately this is just beginning of the end, sorry to be a pesimist, but the present global financial system cant continue to be propped up, adding more money to a worthless financial system, “you cant solve a problem with the same means that created it “.

    The world is bankrupt, paper/ digital currency have no real value, get ready for hyperinflation!

    The 2 Quadrillion in derivatives held by the big bank, will be the demise of the system, its all fake supported by fake money.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    governmebt has to approve to suspend pension the employers and pension provider cant make that decision it has to be the labor and pension. alden you dont know anything about the law

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  5. Anonymous says:

    “…the premier has stated that this is an issue between employers and their pension provider.” No Mr Premier. That’s the way it was before you took our pensions from us. You made it your business too.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    When the government shuts down the tourist business and as a result 1000’s of jobs disappear, it seems fair to let people have access to their own money if they need it to survive. It would be nice if it wasn’t the bottom of the market, but that happens to be when the money is needed. You can’t retire if you starve first.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Fund managers got to eat, too. And the a/c in their big, fancy houses costs a fortune at CUC prices.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Most people will go hog wild and spend all they have access to. Then if and when the dust clears they will look to NAU forever until death. Try something else before this or Cayman is truly finished.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    It a pension sheme nota a plan this amount of Money only exisist on paper not in actuality.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Every body thinks their pensions are rainy day funds.

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      • Anonymous says:

        On the contrary. I see my pension fund as a magic unicorn – a nice fantasy to wistfully think about, but not something real. Over the past 20 years, I and my employers have contributed more than the value of my pension account – and that was before the current market crash. I could have invested this money in a bank savings account paying 1/2% and had more. In the mean time, my well-off pension managers have come and gone, one deported after serving time in jail for stealing pension money, and what do I have to look forward to? Not much. At best, I might receive enough money each month to live in abject poverty – assuming I live through coronavirus. The private sector pension scheme has always been a scam.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    What about the helpers and cleaners on workpermit that have no pension ?
    They are now without income. At 6$ an hour you cant afford a few days with no pay.

    As usual money goes to people tgat dont need it.

    Cayman christianity.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    You do realize that the bottom has fallen out of the stock market and this would be the worst time to withdraw money from pensions. Some people may only have a few thousand dollars left in their pensions

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  11. Anonymous says:

    NAU now or NAU later

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  12. Anonymous says:

    There is no free lunch. What the Gov. spends and the debt it generates will not buy the future. We all have to learn to live within our means. The bill for yesterday is under funded. Today’s bill is waiting for your children.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if they actually want to have a sit down with the government or are they just playing political games…

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  14. Anonymous says:

    What about eliminating the duty on fuel for 3 to 6 months? This would affect everyone and particularly help those on lower incomes. CUC bills would come down, obviously gas prices would as well. One would hope that businesses would pass on their savings to customers but I don’t know how to ensure that.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    I can support a pension holiday, to ease things financially for people (and their employers) a little bit.

    But the idea of people selling units in their pensions, when the market is down around 30% is just assinine. I can’t believe someone with the supposed financial sense of Chris Saunders would suggest this!

    If things get really bad (e.g. people are starving in the streets) I might reconsider, but at this point there is no reason to panic regarding your retirement savings.

    A little relief is what is needed, thus the pension holiday. Maybe Govt can offer duty reductions on groceries for a few months as well?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Shit Market will not be coming back.
      The money was not lost, just transferred to those who control it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What makes you say Chris Saunders has financial sense? An accounting degree doesn’t make you a CFA.

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      • Anonymous says:

        He knows lots of fancy words.

      • Anonymous says:

        What I meant to say was that he ran on being a financial expert and continues to tout that as his contribution to the opposition. This proposal proves maybe he ain’t all that.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When you have to find a way to feed 70,000 people come and speak to me, until then shhhh

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      • Anonymous says:

        1. What 70,000 people?
        2. Who is starving right now?
        3. There’s lots of ways to feed people, without jeopardizing their retirement savings (I do it every day for a family of 5)
        4. I’m certainly willing to do my bit to help. Desperate schemes like you’re suggesting do not.
        5. reduce or eliminate duties on groceries.
        6. reduce or eliminate duties on fuel.
        7. mandate a rent and/or mortgage holiday for 3 to 6 months
        8. I have lots of ways to feed 7 million people. You’re just a loser.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Pension funds are not social welfare piggy banks, sitting in cash, waiting for a withdrawal slip. Triggering unscheduled mass redemption would harm the NAV of all fund unit holders, including those responsible savers that are actually trying to save for what, in most of our cases, is now a significantly revised future date of retirement.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Never believed in this game. Gambling. Markets crash periodically.
      Only last October a friend was boasting that he saved enough to comfortably retire at 50 and start traveling the world. He did travel extensively for 4 months, visiting exclusive places. Not sure what’s he going to do now. He quit his job, sold his rental and AirBnB properties investing the proceeds.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Drawing down pension principal right after a colossal gut punch, has got to be one of the worst ideas ever.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dumb, dumb, dumb idea. The pension fund is not a piggy bank to be cleaned out when times get rough.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    If $850 a month of their own money helps these people live without the government having to give them some of our money, then I don’t see why it’s such a bad idea. We’re talking about $2,550 over three months – not their whole pension account. I say do it!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I currently have 5019.00 in my pension from 6 months old statement. I have worked here for 3 years and make about 24k/yr. With the dump in the stock market my pension is probably worth about 3500 k now? if I’m lucky, 3 months won’t help, nor will what I have in my pension long term. I should have left, but it’s too late now.

  19. tonycayman says:

    I’ve got a front row ticket to this show.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Good move on the opposition. Hope they get a go ahead an this happens quickly.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Arden trying to shut the door now the horse has bolted. You should have mandated better housing for all locals and workers, and closed down or legislated against slum landlords.
    Start legally enforcing the return of deposits to those who have had to leave.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    I hope the opposition head to the premier and have the formal meeting to give us access to our pension and I have no job now and still rent to pay and have to eat to live!!!

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Since when is deciding not to deduct pension contributions from wages and paying it over to pension funds a matter between the employer and the pension provider? Its a legal requirement! A law which the LA could temporarily suspend or amend. Does Alden not understand the basics around employment law in Cayman, or is he trying to wriggle out of making a difficult decision?

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  24. Anonymous says:

    You know, $850 pm, x 6 months – $5,100….x maybe 30,000 people? 153Million.

    Know how much is on deposit in Cayman? Trillions. Know how much Dart and other Billionaires will be making on the money markets, etc these days? Billions combined.

    Anyone know a beneficial owner or 3 of some mega deposits here that just may, may have a heart?

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  25. Anonymous says:

    While generally it would be a bad idea, but seeing the value of your pension account reducing to nothing could lead to mental breakdown or even suicides, especially if you are over 40 and for decades were putting every penny you could into it.
    I had $5,000 in September 2008, and $300 in October. At least Bermuda allowed me to take $300 with no time restriction.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Sure, why not let people drain their pension account while at it’s lowest value imaginable since the economy was tanked.

    The thought process just keeps getting better and better!

    What’s next? Pawn shops to provide short term equity loans against people houses?

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Those proposing this clearly don’t understand how pensions work, and why their proposals are unworkable. Irresponsible, populist nonsense.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Easy for you to say as you lounge in your big house in a gated community. Better make sure the gates are high if people start starving, or you might get a nasty taste of irresponsible, populist nonsense.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Now that im jobless this is Great news!

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Arden must need a new watch

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Responsibility of work permit workers belong to employers so they should have to be responsible for housing AS stated in work permit applications.

    Sad times for all but if there are crowded living situations those people have to be cared for and that will mean less for Caymanians, so great time to evaluate housing requirements, and stalling some of this rapid development that is not necessary for the average Caymanian.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Hell no.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    There are people that are jobless with no employers to lean on and need immediate financial assistance now. People are asked to go through the long painful NAU process in a time when things are becoming dire for some Caymanians for gas, food, medicine and child care. This is not being addresses quickly enough. All the curfews and protections wont mean anything if we are starving. Yes there are poor people on this island and people that were already struggling on minimum wage and unemployment. We need access to pension funds now and government assistance now. Those conversations need to happen now.

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    • Anonymous says:

      waiting for stimulus package like other countries…hopefully not too much longer. No one should have to “apply” and wait for anything or use their pension.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If the NAU is not acting fast enough it needs to be resourced immediately and/or people need to get fired. There are plenty of people around to fill those positions. The one thing that no one should do, particularly at the lower socioeconomic levels, is deplete their pensions in any way.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Guys. That would not be a good idea.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why not? My pension funds are dwindling away as we speak. If I’m gonna lose “MY” money, then let me do it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You have no idea of the need that others are facing. Speak for yourself and let the others speak for themselves. Don’t stretch beyond your knowledge without facts. Thanks.

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