The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has approved bonus payouts to all pensioners after the statutory body recorded a surplus in excess of $100 million this year. The decision, which was deliberately made ahead of the festive season, is meant to lessen the load for pensioners, especially in the current difficult economic environment. In a fourth-quarter statement for 2017, NSSA board chairperson Mr Robin Vela said: "NSSA's performance has continued to improve, with actual management accounts to 31 October 2017 showing, for the year end 31 December 2017, a projected double-digit percentile increase in all the key matrices."
The bonus will be paid to all registered pensioners of the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS) and the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme (APWCS). POBS covers retirement pensioners, invalidity pensioners and survivor pensioners. APWCS caters for workers' pensioners, widow or widower pensioners, children and other beneficiaries.
During the period under review, the Authority managed to grow funds under its portfolio and, by extension, its profits, which grew by more than $100 million from the same period a year earlier. "Taking all this into consideration, the Board (using its discretion) has approved a bonus payment equivalent to a 13th cheque to all pensioners with their December 2017 pension."
Mr Vela said NSSA workers, both general employees and management, will also be receiving a 13th cheque this year. A decision has also been made to lift the moratorium on staff benefits such as home loans, leave encashment and overtime payments. NSSA says payouts, particularly to workers, are performance-based, since the days of entitlement have long passed.
The minimum monthly retirement pension payout was increased to $80 from $60 from October 1, 2017 in order to achieve a liveable pension. The adjustment was effected after recommendations by NSSA's actuaries that had been tasked with coming up with a sustainable increment. NSSA is forging ahead with the development and implementation of the Voluntary Informal Sector Social Security Scheme. Again, actuaries are presently working on the model and design of the scheme. There are plans to launch the scheme within the first three months of 2018.