“ Social Security at 35: Securing Futures, Enhancing Lives.”

By anguillian November 13, 2017 12:06 Updated




Every year as the Minister responsible for Social Security, I am called upon to deliver a radio address at the opening of the week of activities celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the Social Security System on Anguilla. However, this year is the first year since I first served as Minister responsible that I am making this address, in the absence of the Father of Social Security and the Father of the Nation, from this earthly habitation.

This thirty-fifth anniversary is also taking place in the Jubilee Year of the Anguilla Revolution. It may therefore be for the Social Security System in Anguilla, a time of mixed emotions, as we mourn the untimely passing of the late Hon. James Ronald Webster — even while we celebrate our achievements as a people over the last fifty years.

It is not possible — indeed it would be inconceivable to speak about Social Security in Anguilla without mentioning the late Honourable James Ronald Webster. In fact even though most Anguillians revered him as the centerpiece of the Anguilla Revolution — he was indisputably the visionary and the father of the Anguilla Social Security System. It was a singular effort by a man of great foresight who understood the requirements for social justice in a growing nation. And we as a people will be forever grateful for the tremendous contribution he made to the security of present and future generations of Anguillians. May his soul rest in peace!

Today many take the Social Security System for granted and many of those who thirty-five years ago expressed some reluctance to be a part of the process are now grateful for the vision, the commitment and the struggle which has made it such a vibrant institution today.

But while we must appreciate the journey to the present — we must never lose sight of the challenges in the road ahead. It is for this reason we must continue to ensure that the Anguilla Social Security System remains a dynamic institution responsive to the vagaries of the national, regional and international environment in which it must subsist. Such an attitude will give credibility to the theme for this thirty-fifth anniversary year: “Social Security at 35: Securing Futures, Enhancing Lives.”

The sustainability of the fund in itself is inexorably linked to sustainable economic development and as such the management and administration of the system must be in sync with policy initiatives of the Government. In fact, at times when Government is not sufficiently proactive, an effective Social Security Board may be required to lead the way in advancing relevant programs and actions to achieve positive solutions for the country.
No one would have predicted that in the 50th year of the Anguilla Revolution and in the thirty-fifth year of the Anguilla Social Security System our island would have been battered by the most violent Hurricane to make landfall in the recorded history of such weather events in the Caribbean. And the impact of this natural disaster on our people and our economy was so devastating that it could effectively reduce many of the gains we have made over the last fifty years, including the growth and maturity of our Social Security system over the last thirty-five years of its existence.

There is no question that the level of social dislocation that has occurred with Hurricane Irma demands a substantive response from our Social Security System as well. Our society has not yet developed the more sophisticated social and financial safety nets prevalent in developed countries, capable of providing for its citizens in times of both natural and human disasters.

Obviously, there is a cost to building such capacity. So just like many naysayers have come across to understanding the importance of contributing to the present Social Security System — our citizens must similarly learn to appreciate the value of paying into a system that provides for them when they are out of work. I am referring to a system of employment insurance. It is indeed time to begin developing a system that fits the unique circumstances of our economy.
I am proud to have been associated with several initiatives, which Social Security Boards have undertaken over the years for the furtherance of a stable socio-political environment. While there are those persons who may feel that some of these programs are outside of its remit — I believe that these have all been in keeping with the need to be involved with wholesome national development in the pursuit of social justice.

But even as I congratulate Anguilla Social Security Board on its relevance during that last thirty-five years there still remains critical aspect of the development process, which must seize our attention as we strive to secure social justice for Anguillians. In this connection, let me quote a former President of ISSA (International Social Security Association) when he said: “the objective of social protection is not only subsistence, but social inclusion and the preservation of human dignity”.

It is in this context that I strongly believe that the major issue facing Anguillians at this time is an opportunity to be fully involved in their development. While we have had many successes, global realities are threatening to disenfranchise us if we do not take positive action. The Anguilla Social Security System must be a substantial part those actions, strategies and initiatives in this new period heralded in by this milestone year.

I would however at this juncture like to point out that Anguilla Social Security has a responsibility to its contributors, which it has maintained assiduously over the years. Any new initiatives must be as faithful to that responsibility in the next thirty-five years as it has been in the past. Indeed, the hallmark of the System has been an ongoing process of actuarial review and management decisions based on carefully analyzed financial data and sound projections. While the Board aggressively pursues positive initiatives for national development these sound principles, which have afforded it a reputation for effective management must be maintained.

It is with the confidence that the Anguilla Social Security System is well poised to maintain its relevance into the next milestone and far beyond that I take this opportunity to declare this program of activities marking thirty-five years of achievement officially opened. I now look forward with great anticipation to the System’s continued relevance in this new period of dramatic change that now confronts us, alongside of other institutions on Anguilla charged with securing our national development.

Again congratulations to successive Boards, Managements and Staff for achieving this milestone with outstanding success even in this Jubilee year of the Anguilla Revolution. We stand firmly with you as you continue to respond affirmatively to the biblical question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” with both words and deeds.
May God Bless You All! And May God Bless Anguilla!

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

By anguillian November 13, 2017 12:06 Updated


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