Changes to the retirement age is a safeguard and not a cross to bear

Editorial

Caribbean Times feels obliged to enter the discussions as they relate to the social security scheme in Antigua and Barbuda. The fact is that on a matter of practicality and sound reasoning, this newspaper believes that the altering of the retirement age so as to safeguard future pensions and utilitarian systems will lead to a more sustainable development. In effect, the proposals being pushed by the officials of the Social Security scheme to adjust the retirement age from 60 to 65 years have more positives and advantages for the populace than they may be drawbacks.

So far, the talk on the adjustments to be made are centred in the public domain, primarily on the “current financial difficulties” that the country is experiencing due to the drift that took place for several years when the necessary adjustments were more likely to have been gradually introduced. Moreover, because of the urgent need to come as close as possible to a workable ratio “between contributors and beneficiaries,” it would appear irresponsible if the Government and its agencies fail to take the requisite actions now leaving in jeopardy the entirety of the pension scheme.

Consistent with its thrust to see a wealthier nation, a healthier society, and a more realistic social transformation that benefits all of Antigua and Barbuda, and in particular, our nation-builders who would have sacrificed in the toughest of periods, Caribbean Times is acutely aware that the elderly in our society have given and it is only just that they receive. That means, that at all cost the scheme must go ahead, even with some dissenting voices and make the appropriate adjustments. If there is a societal gain that has not been talked about too much, is the global trend that sees many persons working longer and well into their 70s in some cases.

What this country must do is to prevent a situation where raising the retirement age leads to an increased incidence of early retirement and claims for disability pensions. The Government would have to simultaneously put measures in place to support the changes in pension systems and to enable and encourage people to continue working until the new retirement age.

A healthy nation and society are built on the well-being of its residents. We cannot close a blind eye to the fact that people globally are living longer lives. There still has to be an orderly blending of youth and experience in the workplace. On top of that, and with the economy showing signs of rebound, it is at this juncture that Caribbean Times is also calling for more supportive programmes as far as wellness and healthcare are concerned. Caribbean Times is willing to partner with the Government and its agencies in mounting a platform to inform, educate, and cater to the concerns of the citizens given the proposed changes.

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