The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has reinstated the civil service pension and gratuity in the House of Assembly on Thursday, 17 March, through the unanimously approved passage of the Public Sector Employee Fund Bill 2022 and Pension (Amendment) Bill 2022.
The Government has committed over $30 million in the new fiscal year commencing 1 April 2022, for the delivery of terminal benefits for current public sector employees, as part of the Public Sector Employee Pension plan. This investment will aid in the first phase of the implementation of the Plan, to provide complete funding for contributions of both employer and employees.
The Public Sector Employee Fund Bill provides for the establishment of a defined contribution Pension Plan for Public Sector Employees whereby 6% of employees’ salaries will be paid into a pension plan for their benefit upon departure from the public sector through all circumstances including resignation, dismissal, redundancy, disability and also retirement.
The Pension (Amendment) Bill reinstates the option for civil servants – employed prior to 6th April 1992 – to elect to receive gratuity payments and a reduced pension upon retirement. Amendments also secured the right to a pension for all employees who complete a minimum of 30 years of service in the public sector, eradicating the requirement to retire at the age of 60 in order to secure their pension.
Civil Service Association President, Demarco Williams commenting on the passage of the Bills stated: “The Civil Service Association Executive Body, my vice president and I are overjoyed to have played such a vital role in a historic day in this country. The re-implementation of terminal benefits has always been one of our priorities, and we are elated to see it come to fruition.
"We would like to publicly thank the Deputy Governor for being relentless, year after year, to see this through and of course to the Government for sharing in our vision and funding such a noble initiative. We look forward to many more positive collaborations, all to the benefit of public servants”.
Her Excellency Anya Williams, the Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, commenting on the reinstatement of civil service gratuity and pensions said: “The passage of this legislation marks the accomplishment of a major milestone for the public service of these islands.
"The Public Sector plays an integral role in supporting the government of the day in carrying out its mandate in all facets of society, including education, healthcare, security and safety in these islands.
"We are grateful to public sector staff across the Turks and Caicos Islands for the important roles that they play and believe that it is every public servant’s right to not only be provided with the tools that allow them to appropriately carry out the roles that are recruited to do, but that they also receive fair compensation and benefits for doing so.
"We are extremely pleased, not only to be able to reinstate the ability of pre-1992 employees to elect to receive a gratuity and a reduced pension but also to implement a new pension plan for post-1992 employees.
"We are grateful to the government for supporting this initiative which we hope will not only change the lives of public servants across the islands but will also help to attract more persons to employment within the public sector.
"A considerable amount of work was required to bring this initiative to fruition, for which I express my thanks to the members of the Benefits Committee for their hard work, dedication and stewardship. You should all feel proud to be a part of this major accomplishment. On now to our next task in setting up the administration and to widening the programme to facilitate the participation of the wider private sector.”
The Premier Hon. Washington Misick, noting the important return of gratuity and terminal benefits for the public service, stated: “Investment in this new pension and gratuity programme, marks the single largest investment in the public service of these islands and follows on from a $15 million investment during my last term in office as Minister of Finance, when $15 million was directly invested into public servants’ pay through the reinstatement of the 10% pay-cut in February 2013; the implementation of the Pay and Grading Review in April 2015 amounting to $9 million and a 2.5% salary increase in April 2016, providing a further $4million for public servants.
"As a former police officer and civil servant, the wellbeing of the civil service will always be a priority for me and my government, demonstrating our commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of public servants; and will continue to weigh high on our agenda.
"This is a significant investment that is being made and I encourage you, civil servants – as the backbone of the government – to take pride in your work, to provide a high standard of delivery for the achievement of the objectives of the government and for the benefit of the people of these islands”.