Extra pension scheme withdrawals approved by MPs
Additional pension withdrawals for people who have faced financial hardship because of the Covid-19 crisis were approved by MPs on Friday.
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said the National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment Act 2021 would allow people to withdraw up to $6,000 from their private pension accounts.
He told the House of Assembly the one-time withdrawal would supplement regulations that allowed limited pension drawdowns for people who could show they faced financial problems.
Mr Dickinson added applications would be processed by an administrator, but there would not be an in-depth evaluation to decide if there was an urgent need.
He said: “The idea here is for provide a simple process for people to get the money they seek.”
But Mr Dickinson “strongly cautioned” that only people who had a critical need should apply and highlighted it would be difficult for people to make up lost ground later.
He said that anyone could make supplemental voluntary contributions to their pensions and appealed to anyone who made a withdrawal to make such contributions after their financial problems eased.
Mr Dickinson added that voluntary contributions could be withdrawn if needed.
Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition, said the OBA supported the legislation.
He added: “In essence we are talking about the people’s money and if they are in financial difficulties we agree that they should be able to access these fees.”
But Mr Simons added that the OBA did have some reservations about the move because people who took advantage of the scheme would not have the money in the future.
The Government allowed the public to dip into their private pensions last year to help them through pandemic economic problems.
They were allowed to take out up to $12,000 and insurance companies said the average withdrawal was between $7,000 and $9,000.
Thousands of people took advantage of the opportunity and Mr Dickinson said about $127 million had been withdrawn through the scheme.