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Senate approves ‘rainy day’ pension changes

Legislation to allow people to withdraw up to $12,000 from their private pension plans was approved by the Senate yesterday.

Vance Campbell, a government senator and the junior public works minister, said the legislation was intended to help people with financial problems caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

He added that the amendments had been approved by the Pension Commission and would include “a financial awareness campaign” to help the public understand the long-term consequences of making a withdrawal from their pensions. But Mr Campbell said pension savings were intended for “rainy days”, and the present economic situation qualified.

Marcus Jones, the Opposition Senate leader, added: “This pandemic is significantly more than a rainy day. It's more like a tsunami.”

He backed the measures, but said the Government must work to find ways to find cost savings.

Mr Jones said he was prepared to take a salary reduction and that the Cabinet should lead by example and do the same.

He also suggested a cutback on consultants in the Department of Communications.

James Jardine, an independent senator, said that he supported the legislation, but highlighted the potential long-term effects on those who made withdrawals.

Anthony Richardson, the junior home affairs minister, said some in the community may feel the need to take the option to ensure they have a future.

He said: “If you can't get through today, you're not going to have a tomorrow.”

Jarion Richardson, an Opposition senator, warned that the island would face a “substantial second wave of trouble” as the financial impact of the virus continues.

“He said the Government must be ready to address the problems as they arise.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Government Senate Leader and Attorney-General, said there were families that struggled to make ends meet. She said: “When we have families living from paycheque to paycheque, they look to the Government for leadership. More so, they need and require our empathy.”

Dwayne Robinson, an Opposition senator, agreed that there were families facing hardship, but measures were required to protect the future of the island as well.

He said: “We have to make sure that later on we have an economy, we have job opportunities and we have a direction that allows people to repay these funds or all we have done is rob Peter to pay Paul.”

Help plan: Vance Campbell, a government senator (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 14, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 14, 2020 at 8:20 am)

Senate approves ‘rainy day’ pension changes

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