Rivers takes aim at CDP over pension policy

| 27/04/2017
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers

(CNS Elections): Tara Rivers, who has sat in Cabinet in the PPM government as the employment minister but who is still running as an independent candidate for West Bay South, took aim at her CDP challenger on Monday over the party’s pension policy. In the face of some controversy over an amendment preventing overseas workers cashing out pensions and taking the contributions they made while working here as a lump sum when they leave, Rivers defended the policy and criticised John Jefferson Jr for putting ex-pat workers above locals. 

In a rare moment of very clear policy difference at a Chamber of Commerce forum between the current government’s team and the opposition CDP’s policy platform, Rivers stood by the provision in the amended pension legislation after Jefferson said the CDP would reverse the policy. He said they would allow foreign workers who were leaving to be given a cheque for what he called “their savings”.

Jefferson also accused bosses of abusing workers and suggested that work permit holders were popular among employers because they can tell them what to do. He said this decision to stop them “from carrying their savings home” with them when they leave was wrong and Cayman had to stop abusing foreign workers.

But Rivers said the CDP was putting “foreign workers first, above our own Caymanians” over an amendment that had been made to correct the lack of equity and create a level playing field with local and foreign workers. She said she was “astonished” that the CDP and its candidate could say they were fighting for expats at the “detriment of our own people and expect to get elected”, as she set out her position on the amendment.

The employment minister, who made it clear this had been a PPM government policy and not just hers, said, “Pensions are for retirement. It doesn’t matter where you retire, that is the purpose of a pension.”

She said that despite the controversy around the amendment, there was wide consultation with the industry as well as workers before the law was amended. 

“Everyone who understands the principle of a pension understands they are for retirement wherever people are,” Rivers said, noting that people would still be able to get the money paid in wherever they live once they reach retirement age. At that time, it can be paid out as a lump sum or in regular payments.

Over the course of the campaign this change to the pension law has been broadly supported by most candidates except the CDP team. Many independents have welcomed the projected mass exodus of workers, which bosses say they fear, before the provision comes into force at the end of this year. Several candidates have suggested that their departure will provide openings for locals.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Wil Pineau has said the change could lead to mass resignations at the end of December, as that is the cut-off point. Speaking to The Cayman Compass this week, he said as many as 2,500 workers could all leave at the same time. The figure was a  “credible estimate”, he suggested, based on discussions with the Chamber membership.

Lower paid workers from developing countries are the most likely to be affected and there are concerns that these are not jobs very many local people will want. The people most likely to leave are currently in hotel, restaurant, security and service industries. Aside from losing good employees, the concern from employers is that they will lose them all at one time because there will not be enough local people willing or able to fill all the jobs. This means that many employers will be making a considerable number of new work permit applications to replace the missing staff all at the same time and fear that the immigration department will not be able to cope. 

Not all workers are likely to be impacted, however. Although they will not be able to cash out pensions after December, all foreign workers can still transfer the money they have contributed to a pension plan here in Cayman to another scheme overseas when they choose to or are required to leave. 

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Comments (52)

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  1. lulu says:

    the fairest way possible would have meant that if you came to the island knowing that two years after you left from here, you will collect your money, then at the end of your stay that law should apply to you. but should you arrive to the island after 31. dec 2017, then the new law will apply to you. and let’s face it, lots of expats don’t trust the cayman goverment and the pension plans either, i mean these guys have managed to loose money even when the stock markets were up. also, there is a good chance a big chunk of money has been lost and because they can’t pay back, they’ll just delay the moment of reimbursement as much as possible . in the mean time the will report smaller, but continuous losses.

  2. Bobo was a name for Fool says:

    More funny stories from Tede

  3. A says:

    By far the most smug person I have ever met.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Rivers. have you every think about persons who use to work in the private sector and are now working in government and they are not allow to transfer their pension funds and the money just sits with the pension provider paying administration fee at a lost. And you are talking about favoring expats over Caymanian get a grip. You can say anything to get a vote but the electorates need to vote performance. A degree does not make anyone smart.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My suggestion to all expats on work permits is leave before December, all of you, if you think you are seeing your pension again you are crazy. CIG have not got enough to pay pensions to Caymanians or social assistance for the elderly, unemployed, disabled etc, soon enough they will change the laws that allows expats pensions to be pilfered and you won’t get any say! So, Expats unless you are literally stinking rich and pension makes little or no difference to you and have private pensions elsewhere , or have PR or Status. Leave ASAP or you will regret it. Don’t complain after December. You’ve been warned – your pension will be gone.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Methinks Cayman historically never had any rivers, and not having them again would be in the best interests of the public.

  7. Anonymous says:

    They legalized stealing from expats. Because its just for a 10 or 20 years and then if they can find you they will promise to give it back to you. And you have to trust them even knowing that keeping their word is still “difficult” for them. Period.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I believe this whole pension thing is a rip off. I would rather have the choice to save my money in a bank. I lost about $500 out of my pension savings. Don’t make sense to save your pension if you are going to lose money while trying to save.

  9. Anonymous says:

    JJJ is washed up and Tara is a do nothing say nothing until re-election time.

  10. CGS says:

    Ms. Rivers or any of the PPM who came up with that idiotic idea understands the impact of this.
    First of all do they know or can they guarantee what kind of pension scheme other counties have, where an expat may go, that they can just transfer it there?

    They are playing with people’s lives.

    What was the intended objective or benefit of this law? Was expats being able to collect their pension at the end of their tenure somehow negatively affecting a Caymanian or was it just “spoiled child syndrome”? Caymanians can’t collect it until they are 65 so expats shouldn’t be able to either. Caymanians live here! This is their home so they can wait until they are 65!

    Example, if I have been working here for 10+ years and I am moving to some part of Africa but instead of being able to collect the money I have contributed to pension in a lump sum so that I can decide how best to manage it, you want me to transfer it to a pension scheme in Africa because it is for retirement.

    Fast forward a couple of years, pension scheme in Africa is corrupt and all my funds have been squandered or stolen and I end up with nothing. How did that help me in retirement?

    As opposed to me being able to collect my lump sum here, I invest it in an investment of my choice, perhaps something that is part of a bigger picture to help me long term.

    Cayman lawmakers are narrow-minded people who do abuse expats. They try to fit everything in a neat box that says if Caymanians can’t get it or do it, expats definitely can’t get it or do it and that logic isn’t applicable or sensible in all situations.

    Expats are grateful for an opportunity to come and work on this beautiful island, to share knowledge and expertise but expats are also human beings and treating them fairly is not preferring them over Caymanians, it is just the honest and decent thing to do.

    Ms. Rivers and her colleagues don’t care about expats’ rights because they don’t vote but be careful, these things have a way of coming back to haunt you. Ms. Rivers herself was once an expat in another country and I expected her to understand and not have tunnel vision like her PPM colleagues.

    Caymanians say this is a Christian nation, how often do they read the Bible? The Bible says to love your neighbour as yourself. Do they consider only other Caymanians as neighbours?

    • Anonymous says:

      My favorite, with all the people leaving it will give Caymanians jobs??? Are you out of your mind?? The jobs were there for them they never applied, I have advertised for 15 positions at NWDA, NOT ONE CAYMANIAN APPLIED!!! One of the law firms posted for a secretarial job, not one caymanian applied…just like the $6.00 an hour will give Caymanians a better life…yeah right…just raised the overhead, but no one wants to pay more per hour so who absorbed that…I certainly don’t see any changes…..She was voted in independent yet went with PPM, and again running for independent..I hope the people of West Bay learnt by their mistakes…On top of everything else, the schools are worse now than they were before!!!

      • Bobo was a name for Fool says:

        Yes, because we know better!!!

        Far too many fishy adverts around – from carpenters, painters and lawyers, to even accountants bobo.

        Kind question, Do you read the papers or only advertise in them?

    • Anonymous says:

      When this idea came into effect, the only reason that Expat workers were included was simply because someone had a bright idea that employers would prefer to hire an Expat over a Caymanian due to the increase cost. This days, every dog and his cat and his Nanny can be considered Caymanian.

      The option for Government is to create one system. At present, the Administrator of the Chamber of Commerce makes just as much if not more paycheck than the POUSA or our Premier. So only the managers and administrators are raking in the $$$.

      If we set a realistic 20 year plan for a reset, then we should be able to figure it out in that timeframe.
      In the meantime a good 2 year stop on mandatory pension would work good. Most companies would still be paying into the system for good Caymanians employees.

      At the rate we are going, we cannot consider a freeze on work permits. In fact we would have to have an all out approval. This pension system law could actually be a way to get rid of that annoying pesky expat that just would not quit and do not want to go home. wink wink.

      Millions more people seeking Paradise.

    • Anonymous says:

      What exactly is “our neighbour”, obviously the love that was spread to our “neighbours” made them think they should take over this little 2 by 4 rock.

      Its our love for the neighbour that has this country going downhill similar to that neighbor hood country. One Love.

      Ohh and by the way, not all Expats are grateful. They remind us everyday how they hate this paradise, but we continue to hold them against their will so they have no choice. They are stuck here and cannot go home.
      (In the most sarcastic way ever possible.)

    • Anonymous says:

      You do know you can leave it in the Fund and take the benefits when you retire, right? No one is forced to transfer it to a bankrupt African fund, besides the way I look at it my employer has paid half of that fund, and that’s half I wouldn’t have had. What are the rules on pensions from where you come from? Can I get a rebate of pension contributions if I leave the UK, US, Canada, Jamaica, Italy, France or wherever?? I would also be interested in your comments on how treating expats and locals the same is beneficial to Caymanians? Under your suggestions you want an expat to have different, better, treatment, how is that fair?

  11. Anonymous says:

    If I were running a Ponzi scheme and wanted to cover it up, this is how I would write the law. Are the plans independently audited?

  12. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian I can assure you that my one very, very, very valuable vote will not be going to anyone who tries to hold onto those hard earned dollars that rightfully belong to our much loved and respected expat workers who are Cayman’s best honorary foreign ambassadors. As it says in one of the old biblical books somewhere “give unto them what is theirs, keep only what is yours and never gamble money in a pension fund”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Majority of UK pension providers do not accept the Cayman pension product classing it as some kind of collective investment vehicle. Transferring out would be a nightmare. Tax implications would also possibly arise as a result.

      How ANYONE, Caymanians at home or expats gone home can be expected to live on a pithy $1,000 is beyond ridiculous.

      There are so many other things deserving of a level playing field here in Cayman, CIG has no right to be meddling with anyone’s pension. No consideration for the cost of repatriation and cost of living here in Cayman or anywhere else in the world.

      When people work all their life sensibly setting aside a considerable portion of their hard-earned wages into a pension for when they get older, NO government should be allowed to limit or deprive them when the time comes for them to draw upon it.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you read the actual amendment or paid attention to what Government has done you will see that the 1000 a month thing has also gone away and there is a schedule in place that allows people to get more, depending on what they make and what age they are.

        • Anonymous says:

          Still useless. Doesn’t help with transfer out to UK and possibly other pension providers, doesn’t make the tax implications go away. Still totally changes financial and lifestyle plans for retirement. Thanks CIG.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask the workers at Wendy’s how they are being treated by Jefferson.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good grief. It can speak. Shame it did nowt much for last 4 years, except mess things up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara messed up bad on the minimum wages deal, it did not help Caymanians to work in the Hotels/Restaurants. she fixed it for the big shoots, only $4:50 p h,, plus tips , some places does not pay tips and remember, pension, vacation, holidays etc. is not payed on tips. Pension payed on $ 4:50 p h, will not be enough for any Caymanian to retire on. That is why they don’t want to work in those places .and if they do the government will have to support them when they retire, Tara that will be another burden on Government.They should have to pay the $6 plus tips,if any. I have to pay my (one day a week) helper $ 6 p h.

      • Anonymous says:

        Geez man do you people actually do any research before you start flapping your lips. The minimum wage is set by an independent committee. They did the research and recommended the wage. The Government accepted it, and if the Government had not have accepted it you people would now be saying that they ignored a report written by an independent committee made up of intelligent and competent people.

  14. India says:

    But for 4 years Mrs. Rivers was a foreign worker herself , she reside outside West Bay and when you want to reach to her you need to stop into a private gate first and then if you are lucky enough you can get her . You need to be there for your people and people are those who voted for you and supported you given you the opportunity to represent our District at the MLA.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Tara continues to prove she’ll be a one hit wonder. #GETOUTTARA. They need to start over with this whole pension scheme. Pay ppl what they have, start over and have it regularized. I can’t live off $1,000.00 USD per month in Cayman when I retire anyway. Give me my money and let me invest it how I please.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Do any of you understand how pensions work in other countries? Clearly not. Defined contribution schemes always allows for withdrawals at any time. Only in Cayman are you locked in for decades. Idiotic.

    • Anonymous says:

      I do and I’m afraid your statement is incorrect. Most countries don’t allow ‘withdrawals’ unless you have reached retirement age, usually because pensions are tax efficient long term savings plans that attract government rebates. They are encouraged as a way to reduce Government expenditure on retiree’s and hope you become more self reliant.

  17. Anonymous says:

    As a company owner I am obligated to pay into a pension fund for Local and expat. I would prefer to know that if that expat want the contributions they have claimed they earned, that the system allows for them to receive what the have contributed menos a percentage for the “administrator manager”. The money from the company should go directly into the Government coffers that would assist with social services hand outs or old people pension system.
    In the end the Expat tax is not so bad after all. Remove the pension term and call it expat tax. Its the employer and employee way of contributing to a system that is already in place. This way no bad feelings or unnecessary laws to create a bod outlook.
    So Miss Tara, use that educated brains. the caymanians would be paying into a Pension system, converted into Social Services hand out programs. The expat and employer would be paying into a tax system that would be diverted to the same.
    After a thousand years the Caymanian can retire and receive the hand out. After all in a few years, who exactly would be considered a Caymanian?. After the same time, the Expat can leave and feel proud they have contributed to the well being of the Cayman system. if they get the chance to apply for PR and go through the process they also would benefit in the end.
    Or the can enjoy going home to their new house. Win / Win
    So I’m sure my english is not as good, but you see where I am going with this. Everyone still pays. The difference is we do not have employees with the idea that they can pick up and disrupt the companies just to collect the pension. Not just a pension, but my hard earn company money that was placed in a trust for them. Even that they received salary and not have to pay for permit, as well as half of the health insurance.
    Cayman must be the stupidest place on earth when you think about the stupidity of having a pension system setup for an Expat worker, or guest worker. Convert it to an expat tax and it benefits the country as a whole. To offer pension to expat worker is like rewarding them after the permit is finished and saying here you go darling here is your bonus for doing your work that you was paid to do. run along now to your big home in your country while we figure out how to tax the locals for the necessary hand out funds.
    Ohh and lets raise the retirement age to 80 years old. That should solve the problem for another 20 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. The 5% employer contribution is mandated by law and standard in most countries. 2. You cannot redefine a person’s employment contract retrospectively. 3. If accepted and made into law your idea would certainly keep the expats out though. I expect they would either stay home or work elsewhere. where they can keep the 5% employer contribution and have proper access to their pensions and savings without idiotic governments like CIG continuing to abuse their rights.

    • Nonny Muss says:

      You sir/madam must’ve been reading my mind. I have told people that it would be easier to just propose a tax rather than lock pensions away from people for years.

  18. Solomon Grundy says:

    Caymanians should be able to access their pensions to pay off their outstanding debts.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you here 100%. If a Caymanian has existing debt that can be cleared with pension money to free up their debt ratio in order to obtain property etc… then why not?

    • Anonymous says:

      Leaving them to get in debt again in old age because the money they saved for that time was spent paying off debts years before.

    • Concerned Caymanian says:

      Absolutely not! All that will happen if that is allowed is they will withdraw the pension, maybe pay off debt, then have nothing at retirement and go to Social Services.

      Or withdraw the funds, pay off the debt, incur more debt, because they are always living above their means and at retirement, have no pension and still have debt.

      Several years ago when Caymanians were allowed to access a limited portion of their pension to use as down payment on land or “pay off” their mortgage, how successful was that?

      People could not purchase land for $35k and their mortgage balance certainly wasn’t $35k or less so the result was a chunk taken from their pension, and their house was still foreclosed on.

      People need to learn how live within their means, understand the true meaning of needs vs wants.

      The cost of living in Cayman is extremely high but there are a lot of things we can do.

      1. If we would forego getting a $450k mortgage to build a six bedroom house for 3 people and build something to fit our needs.

      2. If we would forego buying the $50k car and purchase something that is reliable and can accommodate our family.

      3. Purchase generic brands instead of the popular brands in the supermarket

      4. Open the windows sometimes, instead of running the AC all the time, we are not China with a lot of smog.

      5. Is it really necessary to use water to wash your car every day or even every week?

      6. Do you need to eat out for lunch every day? Packed lunches are usually more healthy and economical.

      7. Ladies, do you need to get your nails and hair done weekly?

      8. Vacation is a must, a break from the office but do you have to go overseas all the time? Staycations are popular and think of the benefits of no long lines at the airport, no delayed flights.

      We need to stop complaining about only making $6 per hour and start thinking how to make that $6 per hour truly work for me.

  19. Anonymous says:

    BS have you figured out what they will get when they are 65 if lucky??? 100.00 a month

    • Anonymous says:

      Umm, more than CI$1,000 for as long as they have funds remaining, but do not let facts confuse you.

      • Anonymous says:

        That doesn’t even cover rent or mortgage payments.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you still have a mortgage payment at 65 then you did something quite silly. Too big a house maybe?

          • Illuminate says:

            Make them know. Common sense dont grow on the trees.

            • Anonymous says:

              Um do you think we all have cosy mansions that we all return to when we leave? Personally, when I return I will be close to retirement age and have to start over. My plan to rent then buy are out of the window. Having rolled over and well into my second term, I have no home to return to in the UK. Wherever I lay my hat was home and I was looking forward to finally settling down and having a place I can call home. I would love to make that place Cayman, but would rather not gamble what savings I do have investing in property on the off-chance that I might be deemed suitable for residency. Back to the drawing board.

  20. Sharkey says:

    I think that it’s funny laughable that Ms Rivers would criticize Mr. Jefferson and defend the locals over expats , but in the other breath she can’t wait to issue those work permits. Then she believes the Pension funds is good for work permit holders but it is for their retirement . Then she thinks that the government should have the right to hold on to their money for two more years , after that time they can transfer their money to another scheme , then they can do whatever they wish with their money. But they shouldn’t be able to get their money when they leave the Islands.

    Just say that 2/3 of all work permit holders are 20 to 35 years of age . Are they going to retire in two years after they leave Cayman Islands? No . But they are not alowed to get their own money from Cayman Islands Government, wrong wrong , and Ms Rivers thinks that is right .

    • Anonymous says:

      What stupid statements! Evidently this person does not understand how pensions or investments work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Like the CIG and especially Ms suddenly visible and verbal Rivers.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Dumb and dumber thats what the previous comments represent
    And to even think that more than a handful of people in Cayman have a grasp about pensions is a joke

  22. Anonymous says:

    One of the few great decisions made by the PPM. The government scheme needs to provide the same. We should not allow the constant dipping into the scheme. Very costly to the plan as a whole. Some people left to collect pension and shortly after collecting pension returned to re-enter the service. Therefore new pension entitlement. We need new rules regarding re-employment in the service.

    • Anonymous says:

      And rules to stop the double-dipping by the already overpaid pompous and useless MLAs.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      I would entirely agree with you, IF the funds were more secure, IF several thousand hadn’t been lost from my mandatory pension fund.

      Pension fund administrators should be paid on commission as a function of profit from investments. When we make money, they make money — that’s the way it should be.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Who thinks up this bullshit of “savings”. A pension is just what is say – PENSION. That is for when you retire. Now the best alternative would be to just have one plan so all funds were consolidated and be under government scrutiny to ensure regulations but to just let people withdraw all the time is wrecking this pension plan. Keep it up and then we will wind up with a social security type plan which will earn us less. But as usual the chamber and their pals are only looking out for themselves and the workers they bring in and work for low wages. Hell half or more of these so called compliant businesses around here do not even pay heath or pension, never mind overtime, sick pay or vacation pay. On top of that the poor employee has to pay for there own work permit and live in sub standard/unsanitary housing. Mr Chamber of Commerce should be very ashamed of his statements and instead focus on making sure his members are compliant with all of the current laws.