In the Turks and Caicos Islands, if anyone wants to retire at age 50 and receive a significant monthly amount of pension for the rest of their lives, all you have to do is serve as an elected or appointed member in the House of Assembly for two full terms.
At one point, a politician had to serve three consecutive terms but this was changed to any two terms in power. In other words, it does not have to be consecutive. I don’t know why this was changed but I know in the end, it will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars because of the high payout that will be remunerated to the politicians.
I think it is unsustainable, unfair and unjust to pay politicians a pension for life from age 50 when civil servants have to wait until age 60 to retire. Furthermore, when individuals retire at age 60 and they opt to benefit from early retirement from the National Insurance Board, they will lose 30% of the benefits. In order for them not to lose any benefits, they cannot retire before age 65. You see once you retire age 60, you will get a reduced pension amount for the rest of your life.
The politicians do not wait until 60 or 65 to receive a pension. They will not only get a pension, they can also get a one off gratuity payment if they wish. This generous payment to politicians after serving for 8 years must come to an end.
I know that our current premier, Hon. Washington Misick stated during the campaign that should he become the premier, this compensation will be reviewed as it is not sustainable. This article is to remind the Government to fix and address this promise.
Why pensions were introduced for parliamentarians?
Apparently, it is common practice throughout the world whereby parliamentarians are remunerated with a pension scheme. The three main reasons are as follows
- When some parliamentarians enter politics, they gave up the opportunity of getting a payout from their previous job before they had the chance to retire;
- The parliamentarians chance to re-establish their careers are diminished after they retire from politics.
- To encourage a caliber of persons to enter politics who would not be interested in entering politics otherwise.
Because this current payout is not sustainable, here are some recommendations to deal with the pensions for politicians
- Politicians should contribute to a pension scheme. In other words, a deduction should come from their salary each month and perhaps the Government can match the contribution rather than absorbing all the costs. For example if 5% is deducted, the Government can also do a 5% and so the total contribution will be 10%
- Increase the retirement age from 50 years to 65 years.
- Remove the two term requirement and replace it with 3 consecutive term.
- Remove it completely and let the politicians tap into the National Insurance Scheme like everyone else.
It is not right nor is it fair for taxpayers to be paying politicians a hefty lump sum gratuity and a monthly pension for the rest of their lives once they serve two terms in parliament and they reach the age of 50.
I know some politicians work very hard and so do other people. In my opinion, the politicians are already getting rewarded for the work they do or the work they do not do by the high salary and allowance they get on a monthly basis.