Social Security Week 2017 Address by Mr. Timothy Hodge, Director of Social Security

anguillian
By anguillian November 20, 2017 09:45 Updated

 

 

 

Good day!
It is my pleasure to speak to you during this celebration of Social Security Week 2017, which is observed every year during the week in which November 3rd falls. It commemorates the passage of the Social Security Act in the House of Assembly on November 3rd, 1980, which was piloted by then Chief Minister the Honourable James Ronald Webster. This year, the Social Security Week runs from November 3rd to 9th. The Week will have several activities including the launch of a Scholarship named the James Ronald Webster Scholarship for a deserving student at the Anguilla Community College, a Health Walk, a Church Service, Addresses by the Honourable Minister for Social Security, Chief Minister Victor Banks, the Chairman Russel Reid and by me as Director, a Staff Activity focussed on Staff-wellbeing, and will culminate with a Public Lecture by Mr. David Carty on Thursday November 9th at the Social Security premises.

Additionally, this year, we celebrate 35 years of the operation of the Social Security System created under that Act, which commenced on January 1st, 1982. The theme for this anniversary celebration is “Social Security at 35: Securing Futures, Enhancing Lives”. And we have also been celebrating this year the 50th Anniversary of Anguilla Day, under the theme “Celebrating 50 Years Since the Revolution: Transforming, Empowering and Building Our Nation”.
As we celebrate these milestones of course, we are very mindful of the devastating impact on Anguilla of Hurricane Irma on September 6th 2017. The open air Lecture at the Social Security premises highlighting Climate Change therefore promises to be very topical and most meaningful; there will also be a video presentation with barbecue, WiFi and cell phone charging station, so please come out and socialize while being informed, energized and refreshed.
We are also mindful that this has been a year when Anguilla has laid to rest the Father of the Nation and Pioneer of the Social Security System, the Honourable James Ronald Webster, and the Honourable Albert “Albelto” Hughes, and additionally has seen the passing of the Honourable Franklyn “Frankie” Connor OBE, all of whom were Members of the House of Assembly when the Social Security Act was passed. All Anguillians owe a debt of gratitude to these Legislators who helped to bring into being what is probably the single most important piece of legislation ever passed in that House. We have also lost several Heroes of the 1967 Revolution, and most recently a true Icon of Anguilla’s economic and social development, Albert A. R. Lake OBE, whose support for the Social Security System was unwavering. Please join with me now in observing a moment of silence in their memory.

The Social Security System, as I have said, is marking 35 years of service to employed person and their families in Anguilla, service of which we are justifiably proud. The 8th Actuarial Report of the System for the 3 year period ending December 31st 2016 has just been submitted, and shows that the System continues to be strong. We thank our employers, employees, Minister, Board and Staff, and other stakeholders for their support over the years, and look forward to their support in the future – and especially ask our employees to be their own inspectors and to check in regularly with the office to ensure that contributions are being paid in on their behalf.
But these times are very challenging and will test the System’s resilience as well as our ability to respond to those challenges. The effects of the Global Financial Crisis on the island’s economy still linger, the Banking Resolution has placed a significant portion of our reserves into a Promissory Note with the Government of Anguilla, and now the island faces significant unemployment due to the impact of Hurricane Irma on the tourism and related sectors, as well as other sectors which are also affected. We expect that contribution levels will be drastically affected well into next year. For this reason, the Actuary will have to assess the impact of the Hurricane on the System early in the New Year. He has nevertheless given his support to a series of benefit increases and improvements which were in process before the hurricane, and which should be rolled out shortly. Also on the positive side, I am pleased to report that within the next few weeks, we will be implementing a new Financial and Accounting System which promises to bring greater efficiencies and improvements in our operations.
Plans are also being finalized, with the Actuary’s concurrence, to implement a temporary Unemployment Assistance Benefit to bring some relief to unemployed and underemployed persons who were contributors to the Social Security System, who were employed before the impact of the hurricane, and who would, but for the hurricane, been employed as of a date later in November to be fixed. Consideration is also being given to the question of introducing an Unemployment Benefit Plan as a permanent part of the Social Security System, and for any unemployment assistance benefits paid in the months ahead from the Long Term Benefit Branch to be a future charge on any Unemployment Benefit Branch to be so created. Plans to have the Social Security System involved in a National Health Insurance Plan during 2018 are now in abeyance, and we await further dialogue with Government on that matter.

In conclusion, I wish to offer thanks to Almighty God for protecting us from even more serious damage and loss of life and limb from the fury of Hurricane Irma, and empathize with those who have lost property, regular employment or were otherwise affected. I pray that the true spirit of resilience for which Anguillians have always been recognized, and that spirit of “Building a New Anguilla” which was our clarion call during the Anguilla Revolution, will help us all to build an Anguilla “Proud, Strong and Free” in the months and years ahead. As we build, let us not just rebuild. Let us build stronger, better, sustainably, smarter, future-focussed and with more consideration for the bigger picture – whether we are speaking of programmes, buildings, or our nation. Social Security pledges to do its part as we pursue the words of our Anniversary Theme – “Securing Futures, Enhancing Lives!”

May God bless you, and may God bless Anguilla!

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

anguillian
By anguillian November 20, 2017 09:45 Updated

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