Samuda tables social pension plan

Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda yesterday tabled Ministry Paper (number 27) outlining Government’s intention to introduce a social pension programme this year.

Samuda told the House of Representatives that the programme will begin by targeting the elderly population, aged 75 and over, which is considered the most vulnerable in Jamaica.

“The introduction of a social pension will enable us to reduce income inequality and promote a better quality life for all Jamaica’s older population,”Samuda stated.

He said the social pension benefit was set at 50 per cent of the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) lowest monthly rate, or $3,400 per month, which is 30 per cent more than the rate paid to the elderly under the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), which is $2,600 per month.

He also noted that future increases to the benefit will be indexed to “half the minimum old-age pension under the NIS”. However, recognising that the NIS benefits are subjected to an actuarial review conducted every three years, consideration will be given to ensuring that the social pension benefit is not lower than the elderly benefit under PATH.

Samuda said that $800 million has been allocated to the programme this year. The first phase will begin on July 15.

A social pension (or non-contributory pension) is a stream of payments from the State to an individual that starts when someone retires, and continues in payment until death. It is also a part of the pension system of most developed countries. It is different from other types of pension, since its eligibility criteria do not require former contributions of an individual, but citizenship or residency and age or other criteria set by Government, which is where Samuda insists local and national representatives of the people will play a key role.

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