NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (February 01, 2017) — The following is an address delivered by Minister responsible for Social Security in St. Kitts and Nevis Hon. Vance Amory , on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security celebrated on February 01, 2017.
Fellow citizens and residents,
I greet you on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the inception of St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security.
In my capacity as the Minister of Social Security, I am humbled at the awesome responsibility that comes with ensuring that this indispensable vehicle of social justice for all, and indeed poverty alleviation for many, continues to be sustained as it has been over the past 39 years.
This is also a good time to reflect; and as we do so, I would like us to continue to embrace the concept and ideal of good stewardship as it relates to the birthing, nurturing and building of our Social Security system over time.
It is imperative that we continue with the vision of striving for social justice in the context of universality, equity and solidarity for generations to come.
In 1978, the Rt. Excellent Sir Robert Bradshaw, then Premier of our islands, and first Minister Hon. E. St. John Payne introduced the embryonic elements of a comprehensive Social Security system to replace the 10-year old National Provident Fund.
The first Board under the Chairmanship of Hon. Fitzroy Bryant along with the directorate, management and staff of our two offices set about to make the dream a reality, with their insightful crafting of the processes and procedures that were consistent with a fledgling organization.
Over time, as Social Security grew guided by successive government administrations, we have witnessed the growth of Social Security to eventually incorporate such elements as:
· Employment injury coverage from 1986;
· Repayment of the National Provident Fund balances from1988
· Reciprocal agreements with other countries, with Canada signed in 1992 and with CARICOM signed in 1996, ratified in 1997 and concretized in our domestic law in 1999 and self-employed coverage from 1996.
We have also seen the development of partnership roles with the government, in terms of the collection of revenues that were earmarked to impact the social and housing development needs of our country.
Successive Actuarial Reports have lauded the performance of our Social Security Fund and we have been enabled, to respond in a timely manner to many of the emerging aspirations of our people in sync with the said actuarial insights.
Hence, we have been able to adjust several of the parameters over time: from increases in benefits, to raising of wage ceilings, to responding to increased cost of living developments among others.
Amidst all, we have managed to sustain a fund that has always ranked high in terms of performance amongst its regional counterparts. I submit that this is clear testimony of our good stewardship in Social Security in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Today, we continue that stewardship as we embrace the peculiar challenges that social security faces as an institution and even the greater challenges that we all face as a nation.
In focusing at this time on Social Security, there is no greater challenge than that of ensuring that our Social Security remains sustainable. This will be essential in order that 39 years from now, and even further into the future, we will still have a viable and vibrant social security system that will be in a position to meet the ever increasing needs of the people of our Federation.
We are ever mindful of some of the things that we must do, chief among which is Social Security Reform.
There is also an ever present requirement for emphasis on prudent investments for optimal returns. I also feel obliged to highlight the continuing need for the curtailment of rapid increase in administrative costs as one of several other areas of concern.
In the midst of all this, we must also pay close attention to the universally recognized challenges, as coined and outlined in the International Social Security Association’s recent publicly shared discourse, under the caption “10 Global Challenges for Social Security”.
The International Social Security Association (ISSA) is the world’s leading international organization for social security institutions, government departments and agencies which promotes excellence in social security administration.
It provides professional guidelines, expert knowledge, services and support to enable its members to develop dynamic social security systems and policy.
The ISSA report was compiled as a result of research and consultation involving close to 300 government departments and social security institutions around the world.
I am told that the document provided the basis for courageous conversations as part of the most recent triennial social security event, the ISSA World Social Security Forum which was held in Panama in 2016.
The Secretary General of the International Social Security Association, Mr. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, in his foreword to the said report, identified the 10 global challenges which are:
1. Closing the coverage gap
2. Inequalities across the life course
3. Population ageing
4. Employment of young workers
5. Labour markets and the digital economy
6. Health and long-term care
7. New risks, shocks and extreme events
8. Protection of migrant workers
9. The technological transition and
10. Higher public expectations
While, some of these challenges may more quickly grab our attention than others, they are all very relevant and serious enough to occupy the attention of all of us in the field of social policy, who share an enduring aspiration for social cohesion and social justice.
As such, our principal stakeholders must be encouraged to pay close attention to these challenges and to be prepared to embrace any courses of action designed to treat and cope with them, in our effort to build Social Security for the benefit of this and future generations.
I would like to extend my best wishes for the observance of this 39th Anniversary of Social Security, which will be characterized simply by the involvement of Board, Management and staff in corporate worship exercises on both islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Head Office will join the pastorate and membership of the St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Sandy Point on Sunday 5th February 2017 at 9 a.m. The following week, on Sunday 12th February 2017, members of the Board, Management and staff will join in corporate worship with the pastorate and membership of the Church of God of Prophecy located at Craddock Road in Charlestown on Nevis. I invite those of you who can find it possible to join with us on these occasions.
I close this special anniversary message by urging all of you to continue to make sure that your contributions are always paid in full and on time so that we at Social Security can continue to provide excellent service to one and all.