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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; December 14, 2016: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett today announced that Cabinet has approved the drafting of the Tourism Workers Pension Act to facilitate the creation of the much needed pension fund. The scheme will benefit all tourism workers, including Red Cap Porters, craft vendors, ground transportation operators and hotel workers.
In making the announcement today (December 14), Minister Bartlett, who laid the groundwork for the pension scheme some six years ago, explained that “on Monday the Cabinet of Jamaica approved the pension plan arrangement for the workers of the tourism industry.”
“This clears the way for Parliamentary approval to be sought for the Act to facilitate the establishment of the pension scheme and for the requisite steps to be taken to amend the TEF Act to allow for the disbursement of $1 billion to facilitate the seeding of the pension scheme,” he said.
The Minister emphasized that “the fund will attract the same kind of fiscal arrangement that established other pension funds in the country and will be treated like the typical pension scheme where contributions will be tax free.”
He outlined that the next step is for legislation to be drafted and taken to Parliament for debate in a bid to secure approval, which would pave the way for the establishment of the scheme.
The Minister was addressing workers from the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Red Cap Porters as well as ground transportation operators at a special appreciation function for tourism workers at the Sangster International Airport. The event was held to thank them for their hard work and encourage them to redouble their efforts for what is gearing up to be the biggest winter tourist season ever.
He gave a commitment to the tourism workers “that by September of 2017 the formal arrangement and the first beneficiary of this act will come into being.” This, he added, meant “we would have created a historic arrangement where for the first time the workers of the tourism industry, not just those in the accommodation sub-sector but all the workers in every category that contribute to the development of tourism in Jamaica, will have a pension plan.”
Minister Bartlett also suggested that the pension scheme would also set the stage for the elimination of seasonality in the industry with workers having quality year-round employment and not having to worry about seasonal employment. Further, he said this was the last year of celebrating the start of the winter tourist season as there is now an evening out of the flow of visitors throughout the entire year.
Following the function, Minister Bartlett and other officials, including representatives from the Ministry and its agencies, welcomed the first visitor for the Winter Tourist Season as a Jamaican who migrated from the island over 30 years ago, along with her Trinidadian husband, were welcomed as the first arrivals for the winter season. The JetBlue flight from the USA touched down at approximately 9:55 a.m. and the lucky couple were met at plane side. They received VIP treatment upon arrival and received several special gifts from various tourism entities.