KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 13, CMC – The Jamaica government says it expects to complete work on a Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme shortly and intends to table the document in Parliament during this fiscal year.
“We are hopeful that [by] the end of this week, we will have sign-off by the Attorney General, so that we can be in a position to go to Cabinet with the draft legislation and, hopefully, I can table it… in Parliament this [2019/20] year,” Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett said during the ceremony to announce the 2018 Tourism Service Excellence Awards (TSEA) finalists.
The pension scheme is designed to provide retirement benefits for all industry workers, whether they are permanent, contract or self-employed. Hotel workers, craft vendors, tour operators, contract carriage operators, among others, will be eligible for benefits that will be payable at age 65 and older.
Bartlett said that significant work has been undertaken over the last two years to develop the pension plan and that unlike other sectors where the schemes and related policies are tailored for a homogenous group of workers, the tourism pension plan is intended to cover “the widest possible range of employment interests.
“In tourism, it’s a confluence of [stakeholders] ranging from red cap porters at the airport to the taxi driver, to the people in attractions… all the way up to the workers in the hotels at the highest level,” he said, adding that the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme is in keeping with the government’s focus on creating a social security network within the tourism sector.
It is one component of a three-point human capital development plan for industry workers, which also includes training and capacity building. The scheme will receive $1 billion in funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Meanwhile, Bartlett said discussions are taking place with the University of the West Indies (UWI) regarding potential training options that can be explored and initiated to further boost the competence of tourism workers.
He said it is hoped that the talks “will take us into another tier of that whole process of building professionalism within the sector, through the university”.
Bartlett said that the initiative will be further outlined during his 2019/20 Sectoral Debate presentation in Parliament and represents the start of labour transformation arrangements in the tourism sector.
He told the ceremony that the existing scenario “sometimes makes it difficult for us to classify the workers”, in order to create the attendant remuneration.
Bartlett said as a result, it is anticipated that with the proposed collaboration being pursued, beneficiaries will be recognised for their contributions and rewarded “appropriately”.