COMMENTARY: A Scheme So Well Intentioned Now So Badly Broken

25
Audley Phillip

A Scheme So Well Intentioned Now So Badly Broken

In 1965 the ruling ALP Government realized the need for more adequate provision for the nation’s poor and indigent.

By July 1972, the Social Security Act was passed and Antigua became the first country in the OECS to have introduced a fully-fledged Social Security System.

Fast forward 50 years later, Social Security should have been flushed with money, extremely wealthy and thriving but as it stands now, it is dead broke and struggling and barely able to meet its obligations to the very people who in the early days contributed to its existence and success.

It is a darn shame that in an effort to try to correct the wrongs that successive regimes have inflicted on Social Security, Government continues to mandate increases in personal and employers contribution as well as to increase the retirement age making it impossible for those of us who have contributed to the scheme for many years non stop, from claiming what is rightfully ours.

The shifting of the retirement age is criminal and unjust.

Pensioners are being penalized for the excesses and failures of the Government over the years.

It is truly the biggest disgrace of my lifetime.

The Social Security Scheme is on life support and only subventions from the Government enables the scheme to meet its monthly obligations to pensioners.

All the Directors and successive Governments have all failed the Social Security Scheme.

It is time that both workers and employers start withholding their contribution in the interest of accountability and saving the scheme from total collapse. We can’t continue like this.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I believe all statutory body should be governed by the organization which mean they should have their own Treasury as much as I am a supporter of the Antigua and Barbuda labor party I don’t think government should be managing a statutory body money

  2. Am not Blaming successive administration. The ABLP is the administration who is responsible after confessing ,they meet a lot of money after UPP leave office.They borrow and a ever paid back.This came from the mouth of LIONEL Hurst and I heard him.I am Due for my social security benefits since February 2022 and haven’t receive a cent.Al they are saying is they are Backed Up.ABLP Must Go.I don’t see how anyone in my situation could ever Vote for this ABLP.

  3. “… Fast forward 50 years later, social security should have been flushed with money …”

    Well said sir, again we have someone who is highlighting 50 years of Birdism and Browneism wastage that hasn’t worked.

    Antiguans shouldn’t be stressed or struggling in 2023. Not at all!

    If Gaston Browne and the ABLP is returned to office again, we deserve everything that the outside world says and predicts about us, for putting up with awful self-enrichment politicians from this current government.

  4. I agree, but isn’t it an automatic withdrawal from one’s paycheck to ensure contributions? It’s the mishandling, corruption and disparity of funds causing all this chaos. I think it would be much easier working with the UPP government on policies and procedures than with Gaston Browne because he is a narcissist who would not surround himself with the proper advisers and economists. He attracts only crooked people who always ready to see how they can scheme. Real transparency and competency is vital to the survival of our country.

  5. Bless up my friend and name sake:

    I find your commentary mind-provoking (if there is such a word/term). I will comment on some of the sections of same.

    THE SHIFTING OF THE RETIREMENT AGE IS CRIMINAL AND UNJUST: I understand your sentiments and let me state for the record that I was not and still am not for moving the retirement age from 60 years.

    Having said that and having made a career in the Insurance Industry, I have an appreciable understanding for Actuarial Studies and I fully understand and accept that if the scheme is to survive, certain things have to be done, so I will not lose sleep over that.

    In my mind, as hard as it is, it is a simple choice – take these measures and the scheme survives or do not take these measures and the scheme dies.

    My final point here. When I was learning to swim, we went on a mile swim and when some of us was getting tired and wanted to quit our instructor just kept repeating, “it is easier to finish than to turn back”.

    PENSIONERS ARE BEING PENALIZED FOR THE EXCESSES AND FAILURES OF THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE YEARS:

    I agree with this statement. The fact is, policy decisions would have been passed on to the Board of Directors over the years and Directors had a moral duty to RESIGN if they were not in agreement with the policy decisions they were getting.

    In my opinion, Director/Directors failing to resign tell me that they were in agreement with the policy decisions they were getting and the results is right here for us to see.

    ALL THE DIRECTORS AND SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS HAVE ALL FAILED THE SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEME:

    If your ‘all’ include this present government (the Gaston Browne government) I cannot agree with you.

    The information before the public is that this government has made ALL of its contributions and the said government has not taken a policy decision to take any money out.

    I have not heard from any credible source that this information is incorrect.

    It is my opinion that this government have a duty to inject additional funds into the scheme to save it from going bust and it is obvious that this injection of funds is not coming fast enough, hence the delay in certain payments (not only pensions but other benefits too).

    I am sure that the government has many priority payments to address and this would affect its cash injection and the size of its cash injections (but that is a whole other discussion).

    IT IS TIME THAT BOTH WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS START WITHHOLDING THEIR CONTRIBUTION IN THE INTEREST OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND SAVING THE SCHEME FROM TOTAL COLLAPSE. WE CAN’T CONTINUE LIKE THIS:

    I do not agree with this statement. The U.P.P. Government took the issue of Social Security to our Parliament and to my mind; the accountability was done at that point.

    Taking into consideration the additional information that is in the public (following the U.P.P. going to Parliament) to my mind, the public should be aware as to what is going on at Social Security.

    Just my thoughts my friend.

    Blessings.

    • Mt esteemed friend and name sake, greetings and Happy New Year. Thank you for your well reasoned analogy and comment. It is not so much that i want to fix the blame on anyone in particular for the condition of the Social Security Scheme. The truth is, blame can be affixed far and wide. I am more concerned at the present conditions of the scheme, and the likelihood that going forward, pensioners, most of whom are already having a tough time to get the little stipend on time, would continue to have the same difficulties and more, going forward and as more and more pensioners becomes eligible. It pains me for saying that both employees and employers should withhold their contribution in the interest of accountability and saving the scheme from total collapse but we cannot continue to pour water onto a “leaking bucket” We have to seriously address the failures of the Board over the years that have allowed the situation to get to where it is today. We have to begin to select persons to Boards who are not just mere “party hacks” but will bring knowledge and skills to the boards and be the vanguards of good governance. The debacle at the Social Security Scheme shows why we must define how we select boards or we would continue to get the same results all the time. We must strive to achieve improved Corporate Governance in respect to public bodies……..all of them.

      • @Audley- Please take the time to research how the SS board is composed. The trade unions have their pick, the employers federation have their pick. I wrote an article (caribarena)a few years (about 2013) ago re this issue. The way forward has long been stated by the actuary (go and read) Among them for over 2 decades was to increase the contribution age. Seems the UPP supporters forget that for most years the UPP was in office, they did not not turn over the contributions they should. Keithlyn B. Smith, rest his soul, was a director on the SS board representing the union. Every labor day he would lament the fact publicly that UPP was not paying in its contribution. The hypocrisy was they would be quick to attack labor for not turning over all, but then proceeded to the same or worse.

  6. Beef true that government has used up and wasted Social Security funds. The Board fees , the catering during board meetings, the high salaries paid to employees and the investments made by the board all contributes to Social security poor financial state.
    In any properly run country the chairman and managing director and board would be fired long time. In Antigua we promote, applaud and award people for going such poor jobs. A social security employer with basic secondary school education makes more than a qualified master school teacher – teacher trained with a masters. So I am calling on who ever will become PM after January 18th to look at the salary scales.

  7. A well written article. All of the measures that are being taken negatively impacts the poor man in this country. It appears to me that the powers that be are bankrupt of original ideas. The people responsible for raping social security is the ALP. We have Max Hurst words, liar that he is, as confirmation of this. Never mind Beef. He is a laborite and will never acknowledge this fact. Don’t forget that Gaston Brown promised to use social security monies. This ALP government collected in excess of 11 billion dollars, not counting the 100 plus borrowings and CIP money. They had the funds to fix social security but just don’t give a damn about this country. We must consign them to the dustbin of history permanently, along with all their prostitutes minions .

  8. @Audley Phillip
    If employees and employers withhold their contributions, how are pensioners going to get their money when the fund depends on these contributions to pay the pensioners.
    You can twist and turn, but PLM started the scheme and labour government under VC Bird made no contributions for civil servants and took out all the money they met. Max Hurst said labour government took all the money they met.

  9. White Collar Criminals #who’re responsible for this mess are the same ones, who think they’re the chooses one and god blessed, and are ordained, to take the Nation to the #Next #Level(next level of White Collar Crime).

    Out of chaos comes order, whereby, the same ones(politicians aka white collar criminals) who write/ create these policies and make decisions, that creates the #CHAOS are the same ones, #WHO’RE responsible to write/create policies, to mitigate the #CHAOS.

    Until these WHUTE COLLAR CRIMINALS are charged with their crimes, tried, convicted and sent to prison, these criminals will only become more embolden.

    #START
    #JAILING
    #WHITE
    #COLLAR
    #CRIMINALS

    Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
    De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard

    Vere C. Edwards

  10. Writer so in places like the US (age 66) and most of the world (UK, Germany 66) where its 65 and over, the reason is due to mismanagement? Fact is the prior boards were wrong to not move the age earlier. In essence many beneficiaries ended up receiving more than they had paid in. Yes prior governments (prior to 2014) should have done more but you enjoy crying over spilled milk? The actuary (Kenneth Osbourne) has made some recommendations (you should have read them before writing this piece), they have been implemented (among them growing the economy). SS cannot do well if our economy is stagnant.

    • @tenman…You have a tendency, to reference the USA systems whenever, it’s convenient to do so, and this is fine. However, one thing is very clear about the USA systems of governance, especially, at the Federal level, what has being happening at the Social Security Department in Antigua, Barbuda and REDONDA, heads would roll and not only roll, investigators would not only forensically audit the scheme, charges would be brought against those responsible for the breakdown or other issues which they intentionally allow to negatively impact the scheme and once found guilty, according to the law, pays for their crimes.

      Now, correct me, if I’m being an asshole…
      A…to your knowledge, besides Jarvis has anyone else went to prison? Wasn’t several others who were caught misappropriating the scheme funds also found guilty but were pardoned and never went to prison?

      Yes, anaylysis with corrective measures are necessary for such an important institution to take us to the #NEXT #LEVEL, but when will our Judiciary step in, as is the case in the USA, do the proper thing and take the Nation to the NEXT LEVEL of prosecution(s) and convict those in government #who’re abusing, misusing public funds?

      Less you forget George Walters did time for just a few sheet of galvanize! Millions are leaking from the Social Security Scheme, like the Exxon Valdez Oil tanker leaking millions of gallons of crude.

      Please, gud gad take our Nation to the #NEXT #LEVEL of prosecution for these crooked politicians, their henchmen and cronies.

      Ras Smood aka Jumbee_Picknee
      De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard

      Vere C. Edwards

      • Jarvis was never at Social security. He was the accountant at Medical Benefit Scheme. His boss Cavelle John pleaded guilty, unlike Jarvis and actually testified against the others. You seem to forget all of my tertiary training (Bachelors and masters degree) came via study in the US. If I could do it all over again, I would have gone instead to UWI. I also did not just reference the US, in terms of retirement age (UK, Germany). Again practically every where in the world, retirement age is 65 or more.

        • @tenman…stop sidestepping the issue of #PROSECUTION of Public Officials who vomits WHITE COLLAR CRIMES.
          Jarvis was just used as an example of a public official. Where he worked at is irrelevant.

          Again, when will our judiciary begin to prosecute more of our public officials for their crimes committed?

          Again, yet again MANDATORY, INDEPENDENT FORENSIC AUDITING of ALL not done ALL PUBLIC AGENCIES will hot only curb the waste, stop the disappearance of well needed funds to run the Government. I guarantee you, there’ll be many more #Jarvises.

          As to where you got, is getting your education, it’s irrelevant, in regards to bringing malfeasance, theft, misappropriation under control in the Government.

    • Tenman. I was not going to comment on the writer’s ignorance on a simple thing as reading the actuary report. Cause you can see he is just playing politics. And by doing so he has shown his ignorance, stupidity and what I keep saying about these UPP cronies they lack competent. Totally inept. And the report was from before the 2014 election. Almost every country on the globe social security is going through the same extension of the retirement age. People are living longer and therefore are taking more out of the scheme that they have put into it. It is as simple as that. Another thing that social security will have to deal with is the inflation rate adjustment. The government is considering that for their pensioners. What will Social Security do? You cannot live on the same pension for more than five years without an Cost of Living Adjustment.

      • @From The Sideline…it’s understandable, that with time, #all systems require adjustments. However, they also require proper maintenance, through ‘checks and balances;’ yet, what we have gotten in Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA is mismanagement and abuse, of these systems(yes, it appears on the surface, as if things are getting better).
        Several things MUST happen with the PUBLIC SECTOR, to grow the Nation for the majority, of its Citizens not some.

        A…all public agencies, managed by the Ruling Arm of the government, MUST be mandatorily audited by Independent, forensic auditors, similar to those which do the vetting for the CIP Applicants, until such time when we could develop our own trusted systems to monitor ourselves. Presently, regardless of which Party is the Ruling Arm, it’s The Fox 🦊 Guarding The Hen House System.

        B…We need TERM LIMITS on certain positions, in the Parliament.

        C… Prosecute WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS, they’re the major problem in our crime equation. Therefore, why not address them in our overall crime fighting plan(a).

        Again, all systems require tweaking to stay viable and useful.

        De ‘ole Dutty Peg Foot Bastard
        Vere C. Edwards

  11. This discussion is subjective but one thing we can all agree on is that Max Hurst is the biggest liar that ever existed. It is healthy to have discussions on such important matters. However, it is obvious that Beef is bias. Correct me if I am wrong, remember that the labor party has been in power most of our lives and obviously things have gotten worse under the Gaston Browne administration. I must point out that people are suffering more than ever. Some people are receiving pension 3 months late, workers who already worked on the houses Gaston built under the proposed 500 houses in 500 days have not received some of their monies until date. Don’t mention severance. Gaston, treat the treasury like his personal bank account, denying people of their severance. A change must come sooner than later for the betterment of our people and the country.

  12. I have stated many times that SS is a PONZI scheme, meaning it has to receive moneys before it can pay out.

    • @My2sence it should not be, once the contributions are properly calculated to match the payouts. Problem occurs when politicians are afraid of making the hard decisions to ensure this happens. There were recommendations made under the LB admin and the UPP admin, that there was no political appetite to follow (eg increase the pensions age, increase the contributions, better the investment policy…). Instead of fixing the gap, the UPP increased the gap by adding more benefits (early in their 2004 term) without balancing the other side of the book. You may also recall their 2009 manifesto promised to introduce unemployment insurance. The actuarial report points out at that point the scheme was insolvent hence the piggie bank was empty. As you can see the UPP has a history of making promising that cannot be delivered.

      • @Tenman
        The UPP has good intentions for the people of Antigua. Unfortunately they were not allowed to stay in power long enough. UPP cares for the people, labour government care about how much money they can grab. Agreed with you on one thing, unemployment insurance is not feasible in Antigua. Many people would be collecting more from unemployment insurance than from employment.

    • SS should not be a Ponzi scheme. When the the fund was set up, it should have accumulated contributions for at least twenty years before starting to pay out. That is why the labour government met so much money in the fund even though VC did not make contributions for civil servants. The fund is in trouble because labour government took out all the people’s money. Didn’t Gaston say that Statutory Corporations don’t need to have money and took out about $20m from medical benefits.
      If private employers don’t pay into the SS scheme presently pensioners can’t get paid. To think about it, you are probably right. SS has been reduced to a Ponzi scheme.

      • @DC you misquote him, what he stated was entities like MBS whose purpose was to meet specific needs (eg health) should not hold funds while the health sector remains in a bad state. You may recall MBS held so much funds that they were able to waste money in CLICO, Investing in Development bank to afford them the ability to buy a river board for sea water sailing. In the meantime persons were unable to access diagnostic service at the then MSJ and had to instead go private.

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