Honourable Premier's Social Security Week 2022 Radio Address
Fellow Anguillians, I address you today in my capacity as Minister responsible for Social Security, as the Anguilla Social Security Board begins its celebration of Social Security Week 2022 from 30th October to 5th November. Social Security Week each year marks the anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act on 3rd November 1980. The Social Security Fund was initiated in 1982.
This year's theme "40 years of Social Security is now here for you - Digitally" demonstrates the transformation and modernisation of the Fund over the past four decades. Social Security plays an important role in times of economic crisis. New initiatives must be pursued to enhance the lives of the contributors.
The Social Security Fund provided temporary Unemployment Assistance in 2017 after the devastation and job loss in the hospitality industry post-Hurricane Irma, and assisted with Unemployment and Underemployment Benefits in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. These programs provided essential relief for many Anguillians affected by those unexpected events.
Committed to digital transformation, the ASSB launched a new customer online portal and Multi-Benefit Solution in April 2022, which facilitates access and interaction with the Social Security Fund.
Of note, the Anguilla Social Security Fund expenditure exceeded contributions for the first time in 2019, and that trend continued. Therefore, an actuarial review of the Fund was performed in 2021 to determine if the social security system operates on a sound financial basis and provides adequate and affordable levels of income protection; with recommendations aimed at ensuring that those objectives can be achieved for current and future generations.
With a fund in excess of $350,000,000.00, we can say that the Fund is secure. However, for the preservation of the Fund there are necessary actions that must be taken with actuarial advice to ensure the resilience and relevance of the Social Security System. Social Security is a basic Human Right recognized by the United Nations, and Social Security Systems worldwide have as their mandate, to provide relevant and reliable benefits which will provide a minimum standard of financial security to guard against poverty.
Findings included low participation among self-employed persons, high administrative costs, and reserves projected to be depleted in 2037 if the contribution rate is not increased and benefit reforms are not made.
These findings show that a contributory rate increase and reforms to age pension are critical to ensuring the viability and sustainability of the Social Security Fund.
It was also recommended to reduce administrative costs, perform a comprehensive review of ASSIDCO, the investment arm of the Fund, consider a permanent unemployment benefit, and implement flexible ways for self-employed persons to pay contributions.
Public consultations and stakeholder interventions will be scheduled in the near future.
The Social Security Fund has become more relevant in these unpredictable times, and vital to the wellbeing and survival of the people of Anguilla. I wish to thank the former Director, Dr. Timothy Hodge, for his long service as he retired earlier this year. and acknowledge the visionary leadership of the late Father of the Nation, the Honourable James Ronald Webster, who advanced the Social Security legislation in 1980.
As the Minister of Finance with responsibility for Social Security, I urge all of us to commit to the success of the Anguilla Social Security Fund. It gives me great pleasure to declare Social Security Week 2022, 30th October to 5th November, officially open. Thank you.