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House: pensions changes win backing

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MPs approved amendments removing the requirement of people to be retired in order to apply for pension refunds.

The National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment No 2 was passed with no objection.

The amendments allow members and former members of a defined contribution pension of normal retirement age to apply for a lump sum refund whether they have retired or not, of up to 25 per cent of their balance.

It also allows those who have not reached retirement age to apply for up to $12,000.

Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, told a virtual sitting of the House of Assembly that 4,382 applications had been approved out of 6,976 made for a $12,000 refund and 79 of 97 applications had been approved for $25,000.

The amendments allow for payment if the commuted value of the benefit plan is no more than $50,000.

Michael Dunkley, an Opposition backbencher, asked for the reasoning behind those cases not approved.

Mr Dickinson said that he would report back with a definite answer.

The Public Service Superannuation Temporary Amendment Act was also passed, providing for a one-year temporary suspension of Government's contributions to the Public Service Superannuation Fund, and an optional one-year temporary suspension of a contributor's payments to the fund.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, asked Mr Dickinson whether he had been able to “lock down negotiations” with unions.

Mr Dickinson replied: “Government has engaged with three public service unions as well as three associations representing the uniformed services. We have secured the agreement with the Bermuda Public Service Union, the Bermuda Industrial Union and Bermuda Union of Teachers and remain in dialogue with the uniformed services.”

Mr Dickinson said he may need to examine options with the uniformed services but added: “I am not at liberty to give detail on what those options would include.”

The Ministers and Members of the Legislature (Salaries and Pensions) Amendment Bill was also passed, allowing senators and MPs to elect to make voluntary contributions during the one-year suspension period from July 1.

It also provides for a capital sum payable on the death of a serving member. Members may either continue to contribute to the fund in monthly instalments at a rate of 12.5 per cent of the salary, or make up those contributions by lump sum payments by the end of June 2022.

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 18, 2020 at 11:16 am (Updated July 18, 2020 at 5:16 pm)

House: pensions changes win backing

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