On track with pension plans
The majority of occupational pension plans in Barbados are not fully registered with the Financial Services Commission (FSC) as the law requires them to be.
But FSC director of Insurance and Pensions, Randy Graham, said the regulator was “quite happy” that thus far 125 of an overall 300 of these plans had their complete registration, while the others had started the process.
Graham, speaking during a meeting with the media, said the Occupational Pensions Benefits Act allowed “a transitional period of registration”, and pointed out that 175 of the plans were awaiting actuarial reports before they were regularized. The plans submitted cover 35 000 workers in various sectors including financing, retail, manufacturing, and tourism.
“The remainder have been issued temporary registration certificates and they have submitted principally the majority of the registration documents minus one or two things which we are awaiting to complete registration,” he said.
“So I think given the nature of what they had to submit, we are quite happy with the rate of registration to full registration thus far. What the majority of the plans are now awaiting is a very technical actuarial report in most regards and that resource is limited, to produce the actuarial reports, but we have been meeting very frequently with the actuaries and the service providers and getting updates from them as to when those things will be submitted and they have been feverishly compiling this information.
“So we expect to see an upsurge in the submission of those documents in short order and the FSC will push on with the registration of these plans. So I think at this stage we are relatively happy with where we are at but of course we need to get to the 300 as fast as possible so we continue to work with the service providers in this regard and to remind the plan administrators of their responsibilities under the legislation to get the documents into the FSC so that we can push on with the registration,” he added.
Graham said while the OPBA had penalties for specific breaches, including non-submission of registration documents, the FSC was not worried about the status quo and was “comfortable that we have captured the majority of the occupational pension plans.
“You are not supposed to administer an occupational pension plan unless you have registered or submitted an application for registration under the OPBA. This is one of the reasons why we published the list in the media so that if there were any plans that were in operation that either were unaware or had not yet submitted the documents that they could see what status they were in with the FSC and coming out of our publication we had very few responses for persons who either didn’t see a name or were operating a plan which was not registered,” he explained.
“Of course there will be one or two of them out there that we need to chase up behind or that need to submit the documentation, but I think for a first piece of legislation of the wide magnitude that the OPBA is, you have to be fairly happy . . . . But it is a daunting task obviously to bring plans from a position of a different type of oversight into this new regulatory framework, and we continue to push on with the regulation.” (SC)