COI report recommendations on retirement age have been ignored

Dear Editor,

The writer could not help being self-conscious of the exceptionally senior age at which he functioned as an Executive Director in the sugar industry – the country’s largest employer, and of feeling lucky as not to be so buffeted as the newly appointed Chairman of GECOM. But then the former had a recognisable performance record in his field of specialisation – not unlike many who have survived to be respected seniors in their respective competency areas, but who have been overlooked, with preference being given to selected newcomers to critical levels of decision-making.

What has become an established practice that allows for the accommodation of parvenus into the public service system for example, is use of the contract mechanism, in some cases for interminable periods.

It is against this background that one wonders about the explicit reluctance, both of past and current administrations, to raise the retirement age in the public service from the 55 years established in the colonial era.

In this connection the 2016 COI Report on the Public Service of Guyana drew attention to the following, which is tabularised for convenience:

Of comparative interest, the former Canadian owned Bauxite (Rusal) and Electricity (GPL) companies still manage a retirement age of 65 years.

At para 315 the Report commented as follows:

“315       The higher retirement age of 65 years would provide for higher pensions under the Pension Act for public officers who would also continue to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) until the age of 60 years when NIS pensions would be paid. This would further increase the finances of the NIS Scheme by the extended contributions from the employer and the employees for an additional period of five years, thus contributing to the continuing viability of the National Insurance Scheme. We are convinced that a higher retirement age for the Public Servants would be mutually beneficial to the State, the public employees, and the National Insurance Scheme.”

(Note: The Report adverted to the fact that there is no stipulated retirement age for our Parliamentarians and Ministers.)

Accordingly the Report made the following Recommendations:

“64.        That the retirement age for new entrants into the Public Service, and those currently in the Public Service who are below 50 years of age, be retired on attaining 65 years of age, with the option of retiring on attaining 60 years;

65.          That pension entitlements be calculated at a maximum of 43 and one-third service years;

66.          That public servants who are currently below 55 years of age, be allowed the option to retire on attaining 60 years or any time before 65 or on attaining 65 years of age;

67.          That no person retiring from the Public Service before attaining the age of 65 years should be employed on contract in an established Public Service position;

68.          That the Pensions Act Chapter 27:02 be amended as may be required to provide for higher pensions as a result of the higher retirement age.”

More than two years after, implementation of the above does not appear to have attracted any attention.

In any case ‘gratuity’ has become much more desirable than ‘pension’.

 

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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