Hon. Chief Minister's Social Security Week 2015
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE VICTOR F. BANKS, CHIEF MINISTER, MINISTER OF FINANCE AND MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SECURITY
FOR SOCIAL SECURITY WEEK 2015
It is my distinct pleasure to address you at the commencement of Social Security Week, 2015 in my capacity as Minister responsible for the Subject of Social Security.
While it is true that I have only recently been appointed as Minister for Social Security following the April 22nd General Elections, it is not an unaccustomed position to me since I have previously served as Minister for two separate periods: 1994 - 1999, and 2000 to 2010. In fact, I am easily the person who has served longest as Minister of Social Security in the history of Anguilla’s social security system, which now exceeds thirty years.
Even before I assumed the Ministerial responsibility, I was privileged to be associated with the Father of the Nation and of the Social Security System, The Honourable James Ronald Webster and his vision of social security for the Anguillian people and bringing about the actual launch of the System on January 1st, 1982.
In those early years, I recall being, as it were, in the trenches with Mr. Webster and others, principally Mr. Fabian Fahie, Mr. Colville Petty and Mr. Timothy Hodge, promoting Social Security to an overwhelmingly sceptical populace. Subsequently, as Minister, I have overseen much of its development over the years and have been gratified with its growing acceptance by the people. So I am particularly pleased to once again be charged with the portfolio which includes responsibility for what I have frequently referred to as “the single-most important institution for the social and economic wellbeing of the people of Anguilla”.
Social Security Week each year marks the anniversary of the November 3rd 1980 passage of the Social Security Act, and this year, the 35th anniversary of that date, the theme chosen by the Social Security Board is “Health, Safety and Social Security: A Shared Responsibility”. I find this theme to be quite an excellent one, and commend Miss Shakera Browne, a First-Former in Campus B of the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School, for her winning entry for the competition held to choose a theme.
It is a catchy theme, with memorable rhyme, but even more importantly, with considerable depth. It makes me, for example, hearken back to a phrase which I repeated often in those early days when social security was by-and-large an alien concept that is, the Biblical question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In the areas of Health, Safety and Social Security, I would say emphatically “Yes, you are”, “Yes, I am”, “Yes, we all are.”
Clearly, we all have, and must take some personal responsibility for our own health, safety and financial security. It is therefore undeniable that Health, Safety and Social Security are indeed shared responsibilities. Health is a shared responsibility from several viewpoints. It is a parent’s responsibility not to send a child to school because he or she has the flu, and so keep the remainder of the class from being exposed to the flu virus. It is a shared responsibility because healthcare is complex and costly, and therefore requires tremendous financial, human and other resources for it to be effective and efficient, equitable and affordable.
For the same reasons, Safety is a shared responsibility. No-one can claim to be safe in a society where others are unsafe because of gun or other forms of violence. Workplace hazards do not discriminate or pick and choose their victims. Persons who drive safely are still at risk if they share the roads with reckless or drunk drivers. We all must share the cost of our police, fire and other emergency services through the central provider, government.
And Social Security is a shared responsibility as workers collectively contribute to provide protection for themselves and their families, against the various risks faced in life which render them unable to work. These include sickness, maternity, old-age and death.
Since these and other vagaries of life are unpredictable, the best-made plans of personal savings and other forms of putting aside often fail when put to the test of prolonged or permanent inability to work. Because of these realities, social security systems have been designed across the world to provide reliable benefits to ensure some minimum standard of financial security when the breadwinner in a family is no longer able to do so.
Healthy workers contribute more to society and to the System, while unhealthy workers contribute less, and claim social security benefits more, and earlier. Persons injured by accidents, crime or other incidents affect the Social Security System similarly. And premature deaths from whatever cause add to the survivor benefits rolls. It is obvious then that the Social Security System has a vested interest in the health and safety of all those who live and work here, and hence this week’s theme: “Health, Safety and Social Security: A Shared Responsibility”
I am therefore pleased that during this Social Security Week, 2015, the Social Security Board has selected a theme which is this broad in scope, because the Social Security institution is financially strong, well-managed, and has a visionary approach as to its role in Anguilla’s overall development. I trust that you recognize that the theme calls on you, the stakeholders, as well to share the responsibility of building a healthy, safe and prosperous Anguilla.
I therefore take much pleasure in declaring Social Security Week 2015 officially open!