Government blanks Opposition call for EC$500 pension monthly for public workers

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The Dominica government Tuesday said pension rates are “not plucked from the sky” as it dismissed a call by Opposition Leader Lennox Linton for a monthly pension of EC$500 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) for public workers.
“It is reprehensible that the Leader of the Opposition would propose an increase in government funded pensions. This proposal will only jeopardise the pensions of the current work force as well as hinder the ongoing development diversification of our country’s economy,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a statement.
“Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition seems to think pension rates are not plucked from the sky. They are arrived at after careful analysis by actuaries. Actuarial science is not be confused with political mischief making,” Skerrit added.
Earlier this week, the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) issued a statement calling on the authorities to put into effect the announcement made by Linton during the 2018 budget debate in July that “no public service pension will be less than 500 dollars per month”.
In his budget response entitled “Leveraging the Nature Island Brand”, Linton under the heading “Disposable Income” said his party if elected to office would “improve the climate for profitable growth of all sectors of business so that no Dominican will have to work for less than EC1, 000 dollars per month,” adding “no public service pension will be less than 500 dollars per month”.
But in his statement Tuesday, Skerrit said that the UWP and Linton show a lack of understanding of financial matters.
“Once again the Leader of the Opposition in his hastiness to oppose for opposing sake, has proven to the people of Dominica that he does not understand how to manage the finances of our country,” Skerrit said, adding that they have also failed to analyse “how much work we are doing as a country to build after the passage of Hurricane Maria” last year, which left millions of dollars in damage.
“At a time when this government is simultaneously undertaking several substantial projects in housing, agriculture, public works and tourism to name a few, it is reprehensible that the Leader of the Opposition would propose an increase in government-funded pensions,” he added.
Skerrit said that the sustainability of the Dominica Social Security (DSS) is predicated on a prudent and responsible management of the finances of the establishment and “any decision that is not supported by the actuarial science will run into difficulties and will cause serious difficulty for those who are now receiving a pension”.
He told the country that before a pension can be disbursed, every single cent of it has to be studied and evaluated against the reality of its likely impact on the fund down the road.
“We must not forget as a country that is the very same United Workers Party which almost bankrupted the DSS by not remitting to the DSS funds due to it by law, and also the mismanagement of investments by the DSS proposed by the United Workers Party at the time” said Skerrit, who in his Independence Day address earlier this month, announced that his administration would give a one-off gratuity payment to the lowest paid categories of pensioners in Dominica.

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