Senate backs pension changes
Legislation to require non-Bermudians be enrolled in a pension scheme was approved in the Senate on Wednesday.
The National Pension Scheme (Operational Pensions) Amendment Act will also allow seniors to withdraw up to 25 per cent of their pension savings after retirement.
Vance Campbell, a Progressive Labour Party senator, said the changes would help level the playing field between Bermudians and non-Bermudians in the job market.
He added the opportunity for seniors to withdraw part of their pensions would give them another option to pay for mortgages.
Nick Kempe, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, said many of the amendments included in the legislation were good, including a shorter vesting period which would benefit workers who move from job to job during their careers.
But he questioned if the reforms would make life easier for job-hunting Bermudians.
Mr Kempe said that, although local companies did not have to pay the 5 per cent employer portion of pension contributions for non-Bermudian employees in the past, many companies already had those employees enrolled in some kind of programme.
Mr Kempe added that non-Bermudian workers already carry the additional cost of work permit fees and repatriation expenses.
Mr Campbell said that the cost of work permits and repatriation made the employment of non-Bermudians more expensive in the short term, but longer term the difference in pension contributions was a bigger factor.
James Jardine, an independent senator, also backed shorter vesting periods and a requirement in the legislation to pay interest on any overdue pension payments.
But Mr Jardine said he feared that some seniors might make poor choices about their pension if not well informed of the consequences.
Mr Jardine added it would make sense for seniors to use a withdrawal from their pensions to pay for mortgages or other loans, but he would be concerned if a senior used the funds to go on a world cruise.
The legislation was approved, as was the Internal Audit Amendment Act, which extended the length of appointment for the Internal Audit Committee chairman.
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