THE Senate is expected to today approve the regulations for the much-touted Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme, which will guide the registration of individuals in the tourism sector.
The regulations were finally approved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, after being delayed for a week due to the absence of the Opposition’s tourism spokesman Dr Wykeham McNeill.
Closing the debate Tuesday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett noted that the approval will pave the way for implementation of the scheme.
He also noted that prior to the impact of COVID-19, a total of 170,000 people were employed in the tourism industry. However, that figure has since been reduced due to the laying off of more than 120,000 workers, leaving only about 40,000 people mostly working two to three days per week for a stipend. He added that there are self-employed individuals who are still functioning.
“So there is the basis for registration to actually begin, on the basis of those who are still in full employ at this time. We really want that to happen, so that the process actually begins,” Bartlett insisted.
He said that there is a genuine need to “flatten the curve” in controlling the impact of the novel coronavirus.
“We have to cooperate and follow the protocols to ensure that we can flatten the curve quickly, get back to normalcy, and to open back our borders as fast as possible,” he said.
The minister also boasted that Jamaica’s House of Representatives is the first to work on a protocol for re-entry into the destination.
The Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme is in keeping with the Government’s focus on creating a social security network within the sector. It is one component of a three-pronged human capital development plan for industry workers, which includes training and capacity-building.
The scheme is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation, and will require mandatory contributions by workers and employers.
It will cover all workers in the tourism sector, aged 18 to 59, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed. These include hotel workers as well as people employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators, and workers at attractions.
Benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older, to individuals who have met the vested period of five years.
Also on the agenda for today’s Senate sitting is the tabling of two more Bills approved by the House of Representative last Tuesday: the Registration of Titles Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Both Bills are aimed at reforming Jamaica’s land-titling system.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz, who piloted both Bills, said that the reform is necessary due to the large number of people occupying land whose names are not on the titles.
He noted that it goes on for generations sometimes, and has created the need to modernise and enhance the administrative structures to simplify processes and reduce costs.
He also noted that the desired outcomes include increased security of tenure and a more efficient and systematic land-titling system.
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