“With regard to Social Security, its ongoing challenge is the collection of sufficient contribution-income to fund payments, which has been made all the more difficult owing to the pandemic,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne disclosed during the 2022 Budget Statement Presentation.
The country’s leader indicated that the government made its required contributions of nearly $40 million in 2021, however private sector contributions plummeted.
Tourism and allied industries such as restaurants, transportation, and wholesale distributors account for a significant portion of active contributors to Social Security.
The pandemic and resultant lockdown, along with health management protocols reduced contributions to Social Security by $8.8 million for industries such as these.
PM Browne further broke down the contribution income generated by Social Security which amounted to $163.5 million in 2019, $146 million in 2020, and is estimated to be $158 million in 2021.
“In some months, the contraction in the labour market effectively resulted in the underfunding of the pension and other welfare benefits by as much as $6 million. Accordingly, the real dependence ratio fell to 3:1 during the pandemic where 10:1 is needed to ensure full and timely monthly payment of pensions and benefits. The consequence was that, by September 2021, pension payments were delayed by two months,” Browne explained.
Despite the cash flow challenges, the prime minister disclosed that the government provided $10 million to Social Security, bringing the payment cycle current by the end of October 2021.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Browne stated, “As the economy is rejuvenated, Social Security’s cash flow will improve thereby eliminating the negative impact on pension payments.
Moreover, the Social Security Board and the government have embarked on an ambitious plan to fund pensions throughout 2022. This funding plan involves the monetizing of key assets of the corporation and offering investment instruments on the regional securities exchange.”
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