PM Explains the Belize Private Pensions Act
Over the past couple of weeks there has been much speculation as to the effect that a new Pensions Act will have on some schemes, particularly those in the three main utilities in the country, namely BEL, BTL and BWSL. On Friday, October 4th, Prime Minister Dean Barrow visited with members of the BWSL staff to explain it. Shortly after the meeting, he explained it to the media.
While there was apprehension that the new act would give government the power to take over pensions, the PM explained that nothing is further from the truth. He added that the new legislation became necessary after major pension entities like CLICO folded, leaving unsuspecting pension holders holding an empty bag. In an effort to avoid this from taking place in Belize, the legislation will allow for a Supervisor of Pensions. “If it is clear to the Supervisor of Insurance that the operators of a pension scheme is operating in a fraudulent manner then the supervisor would act,” cited the PM. He added that the entire revision is being done to also, “offer other layers of protection”. PM Barrow explained that among these layers would be greater benefit of consumers to also additionally protect them from other problems like their pension being taken as part of court attachments.
And while the legislation is one that will offer greater protection, those most concerned about it, the utilities stated the PM should not be concerned over it as the three utility pensions would be exempt from the act.
In a release by the Ministry of Finance, it explains that, “a financial consulting firm, Morneau Shepelle LLC, was engaged to prepare a draft legislative framework for the regulation and supervision of private pensions based on modern international standards and industry best practices as employed elsewhere in other Commonwealth jurisdictions.” It adds that, “The drafting of the Bill is not yet complete and it is anticipated that further consultations with
the industry will be held prior to submission to Cabinet”. It continues, “The Bill does not require that any pension funds or pension investments be under the control of the Government nor does it require that pension funds be invested in any Government securities, nor does the Bill propose to change or modify any existing private pension funds. Furthermore, the Bill also does not in any way affect the Government Pension nor the Belize Social Security Board Pensions”.The Guardian