At Pensioners’ Luncheon: “SOCIAL SECURITY HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE”, DIRECTOR SAYS
Reflecting on the growth, direction and various benefits of Social Security in Anguilla, its long-serving Director, Mr. Timothy Hodge, says the social development system has a bright future and, accordingly, he is inviting many more Angullians to come on board.
He was at the time taking a break from his involvement in, and supervision of, a heavily-financed luncheon for more than 200 pensioners served mainly by Social Security staff members. The luncheon, on Thursday, November 5, at Blue Ridge Conference Centre and Hotel, was prepared by Elsa’s Restaurant, Island Harbour, and Ev’s Owen, South Hill, and was a climax of Social Security Week in Anguilla.
“We are very pleased with the turnout of our pensioners for this our Social Security Week Luncheon,” Mr. Hodge told The Anguillian. We invited 300, but I think we have well over 200. The pensioners mean everything to Social Security. They are the evidence that Social Security really works. When, for example, there is Mrs. Mary Martin-Richardson who is 90 years old – and is here as a pensioner – it means that she has been getting a pension for 25 years. This is the evidence that Social Security is real and works. As a matter of fact, we have over 520 pensioners; 100 persons who are receiving disability benefits; 120 persons receiving survivors’ benefits; we have about 120 who are receiving non-contributory old age pensions. So we have over 900 persons who are receiving pensions, in addition to those who receive sickness and maternity benefits on a short-term basis. This is a great number. We pay out eleven million dollars in those pensions a year, plus four million dollars in sickness and maternity benefits; and this is serious money that is being paid out by the social security system of Anguilla. This luncheon is our way of saying that we appreciate their work. These pensioners are the ones who really built social security when they paid in the early days and now they are reaping their rewards. Hopefully we are helping them to have a more financially [better] life through social security.”
Mr. Hodge revealed that the Social Security Fund stood at about 310 million East Caribbean dollars in various forms of investment.
“Where is the system heading,” he was asked, and replied:
“The Social Security Act was passed 35 years ago this week. That is almost two generations – if 20 years is a generation. It has a very solid foundation. The last three years have been challenging, with the economy being very tight and so forth, but I see social security going forward strongly to take on the challenges of the future. With new technologies, new competences and new legislation, I think that the future is bright as we try to serve the people of Anguilla in the best way we can.”
Mr. Hodge praised revolutionary leader, Ronald Webster, for his visionary introduction of social security in Anguilla. “Certainly, he was a visionary,” he responded. “In fact, I like to use the words of Hebrew 11 verse 1 which states: ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Evidence is something that you can see and you can touch… and this is what social security is all about. In Webster’s mind, he saw social security giving pensions to people when they retired. But how were they going to retire when up to that point they weren’t even working? There was very limited employment in Anguilla; so he passed the Act with a belief that economic activity and employment would come – and that there can be something for them to contribute to and retire on when they reached the age when they could no longer work. So yes, he was a visionary. That’s what a vision is – having faith without seeing, and that is what he had.”
Asked what message he had for the people of Anguilla, he replied: “Social Security is important and it is important that every single person pays social security so that they can get the benefits when they retire.”