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National Insurance Board Contribution and Benefit Regulations Legislative Amendments

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#TurksandCaicos, April 4, 2022 – The main purpose of the Turks and Caicos Islands National Insurance Programme is to provide relevant social insurance protection through a wide range of benefits to the peoples of these islands, primarily our contributors and their dependents. To fulfil our mission, decision makers must seek to ensure the Fund remains viable into perpetuity.

Section 45(1) of the National Insurance Ordinance provides for the National Insurance Fund to be actuarially assessed every 3 years. As part of the review, the income and expenditure levels of the National Insurance Board are examined, including the current benefit and contribution rate structures; all towards safeguarding the future viability of the Fund.

Having conducted its 9th Actuarial Review in July 2019, among the main findings and recommendations, the Report observed that the Turks and Caicos Islands National Insurance Board’s current contribution rates have remained unchanged from inception in April 1992 (second lowest in the region). At the same time, there were numerous increases across all branches of benefits over the 3 decades.

  • Contribution Rate Increase

The report indicated that based on the current design, structure, and parameters, the TCINIB is projected to be financially sustainable for the medium to long term and is forecast to have sufficient reserves to support the current estimated expenditure for another 27 years. Contribution Income is projected to cover all expenses until the year 2027, based on the current benefit provisions and current contribution rate of 8.0%.

After 2027, the NIS will have to use some of its investment income, in addition to its contribution income to cover the projected expenses. This will slow the rate of the growth of the reserves.

In order to protect its reserves, which are specifically set aside as a buffer to the system to provide for the continuous payment of future benefits during periods of economic downturn, the Actuary concluded and recommended that it is necessary to immediately increase the existing contribution rate structure.

Accordingly, all Employers, Employees and Self -Employed persons are hereby advised that Cabinet in accordance with the recommendations of the Actuary, has accepted and approved the implementation of incremental increases in the current contribution rates over the next three years with effect from April 1, 2022, as follows:

April 1, 2022 April 1, 2023 April 1, 2024
Private Sector

Employer/ Employee:

10% 11% 12%
5.5% / 4.5% 6% / 5% 6.5%/ 5.5%
Public Sector 9.15% 10.15% 11.15%
Employer/Employee:    5.075%/4.075% 5.575%/4.575% 6.075% /5.075%
Self-Employed 8% 9% 10% 

While these are challenging times economically, the difficult decision was made to increase rates as recommended by the Actuary, to safeguard the Fund in the best interest of the people who have come to rely on the safety net it provides.

It is projected that NIS costs will escalate, primarily due to the Long-Term Benefits (LTBs) Branch. This is the branch from which Funeral Grants, Retirement, Invalidity, Survivors,’ and Non-Contributory Old Age Pensions are paid. That branch currently accounts for 78% of all costs and is projected to increase to 93% of all costs. As the NIS matures, more persons will be covered and will accumulate a greater number of contribution weeks, which enables them to qualify for a pension instead of a grant and to qualify for a greater average benefit amount. The rate increase will allow for the allocation of additional funds to the long-term branch of the Fund.

The decision to increase the rate at this time is a thoroughly considered decision. It was not taken lightly. If the NIB is to continue to provide benefits that are relevant, the Fund must remain strong. The fund can only remain strong with the right level of inflows to cover the expenses of the Fund.

Management continues to closely monitor and contain cost. Also, contribution collection compliance is always a key aspect of the operations, as we strive to collect all the funds due to the NIB. Thirty years later, the two alone are no longer sufficient to sustain the Fund. For the first time, the contribution rate must be increased to secure the longevity of the Fund.

Again, the new contribution rates are effective April 1, 2022, and will increase a further 1% over the next two years. There has been no change to the maximum ceiling of $4,000 per month.

Further, there are changes to the following National Insurance (Benefits) Regulations:

  • Retirement Pension after age 65

In many social security circles, it is becoming more prevalent to increase the normal retirement age considering the increase in life expectancy. The National Insurance Board is not increasing its retirement age but is offering an incentive to insured persons who choose to delay accessing their pension after age 65.

Accordingly, effective April 1, 2022, an insured person who retires from insurable employment after the age of sixty-five, and who was not in receipt of a Retirement Pension prior to the age of sixty-five, shall be entitled to an increase in their Retirement Pension a half percent (½%) per month for every month, up to a maximum of 30% that their pension is delayed, commencing from the date of their retirement.

  • Retirement Benefit Accrual Rate

The new accrual rate for the Retirement Pension benefit will be amended as follows for persons ages 49 years and under on April 1, 2022:

Twenty percent of the average weekly insurable earnings will be payable to an insured person who has paid or to whom has been credited not less than five hundred contributions.

This will be supplemented by a further 2% of the average weekly insurable earnings for each unit of fifty paid or credited contributions in excess of the first five hundred, up to a total of one thousand such contributions; or contribution years 11 to 20.

An additional 1% of the average weekly insurable earnings for each unit of fifty paid or credited contributions exceeding one thousand will be paid up to a maximum of 60%.

The qualifying conditions for the Retirement Pension for persons ages 50 years or more on the date the amendment is adopted will remain unchanged and they will receive a pension based on the current benefit formula.

  • Amendment to Invalidity Pension

The minimum contribution weeks to qualify for an Invalidity Pension will increase from 150 to 300 contributions, effective April 1, 2022.

  • Increase in Non-Contributory Old Age Pension (NCOAP) Age

The pensionable age for the NCOAP benefit will increase from sixty-eight to seventy, effective April 1, 2022.

Please feel free to contact us at 946-1048 (Grand Turk) or 941-5806 (Providenciales) for further details. You are also invited to visit our website at www.tcinib.tc or our Facebook page to see detailed information on the recent legislative changes.  

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FLOW CUSTOMERS BENEFIT FROM INCREASED SPEEDS

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New upload speeds to improve online gaming, video conferencing & Online Voice Calls

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, JUNE 24, 2022 – Flow TCI wishes to remind customers of a broadband speed increase to our existing broadband plans, which took effect on April 25th, 2022. An incremental rate increase for the new higher speed plans has taken effect.

The rates were increased by US$4 for the following plans and the download and upload speeds will increase by the following allotments:

All customers will be migrated from all previous fixed broadband plans to the new broadband Fibre to the Home plans. The new speeds will improve the overall broadband experience for all customers for online gaming, voice over IP calling, video conferencing, and social media usage.

For more information on our new Fibre to the Home plans, visit https://discoverflow.co/turks-and-caicos/broadband-overview for more details.

 

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2022 Hurricane Preparedness Exposition

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“Mission Ready – Pledge to Prepare; Be Smart Take Part”

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 23, 2022 – The Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) will be hosting its 3rd Hurricane Preparedness Exposition on 1st July 2022 from 10:00 am at the Town Centre Mall, Parking Lot, Downtown, Providenciales.

The Hurricane Preparedness Expo will feature booths from over twenty-five different agencies, partners and public safety officials this year. The event provides critical stakeholders with roles in disaster management an opportunity to interact with the public, demonstrate their services, and guide individuals and businesses on how they can prepare for this hurricane season.

The goal is to ensure residents are ready should a hurricane impact our region by offering a one-stop shop for the general public to gather helpful information and ask their hurricane and storm-related questions.

We ask all residents to come out and participate in this preparedness event. The event is free, fun and educational with tons of giveaways, including the chance to win a Graceway Smart Supermarket Hurricane Supplies Shopping Spree on 1st July 2022.

This venture also encompasses the principles of Public-Private Partnership, as it demonstrates the Disaster Risk Reduction commitment of the private sector in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It also highlight’s the Public Sector Department’s determination to ensure all major entities are involved in its goal of building a resilient country.

The Hurricane Preparedness Expo will be on Friday, 1st July 2022, at the Town Centre Mall, Parking Lot, Downtown, Providenciales, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. We look forward to your participation.

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Worst time to be a Woman; a Haitian crises

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Magnetic Media 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 24, 2022 – I know many of us are frustrated by the reports of illegal vessels breaching our waters, landing on our shores, costing us in repatriation expenses and overwhelming our small states and we’re not wrong to be bent out of shape by it.  However there are many facets to this maddening issue to sound alarms and from what I’m told and because of what I have noticed, the number of women increasingly taking the risk to runaway confirms the heartbreaking truth that abuses of this vulnerable group are escalating in frequency and violence.

A teenager, pregnant jumped from a balcony in Blue Hills (TCI) in desperation to escape pursuing law enforcers; it was dark, she could have died, she was hospitalized then sent back.

Turks and Caicos Police ‘stop & search’ operations are capturing many women; women who are trying to get to a job site in the many illegal jitneys moving around the town.

Sure it is all illegal, however it remains gut wrenching that these skittish ladies would have started the day on the hustle for a little cash only to be caught, with no document affirming legal status breaking the law. They will be deported and life will change, likely for the worse.

Haiti’s instability is driving the exodus of Haitian people.  The plummeting quality of life is pushing the “irregular migrants” as they are labelled to board boats, take to the ocean in pitch black conditions, driven by a desperate home.

Some make it, some do not.

The only death recorded or reported at the TCI detention center in years was this month; it was a Haitian woman. We don’t know what went wrong. But a journey toward a better life ended with the loss of hers.

I come from a set of nations – The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands – which have ensured I have a place.  Whether that’s school or college or a job or as an entrepreneur, room was made for me and laws are in place to enable and empower me. Not only do I have bread to eat, but I get to choose the type of bread I want to eat and can share it.

I am blessed. Truly.

But for my Haitian sisters, when you see their faces and the sadness in their eyes. When the human spirit is so shattered that it creeps into the dankest of places which is utter hopelessness, we should sit up and stand up.  This should capture our attentions.

In fact we should know, that for the hundreds we do encounter, there are countless more out there, unseen and trying to survive without being fortified by a force field of love, rule of law and simple decency.  There are too many more relentlessly buffeted by exploitation and circumstances outside of their control.

I suspect, this is the absolute worst time to be a woman or girl in Haiti. Just the worst.

Whether it is the recent memorial held to remember 11 Haitian women who perished at sea in early May trying to get in, undetected to Puerto Rico or a new and emerging report on describing the sexual abuse of Haitian women working at a factory; given sickening ultimatums:  Sex for their salary; an exploitation which usually draws throngs of people to vociferous protests in more developed countries; to this news however, there is silence and little reaction that we can see.

I declare that these women are significant.  They are valued despite the trials and tribulations of their homeland.  Within this dispensation, a post Black Lives Matter world, the darker complexion of many of their skins no longer means they are disposable.

And united, it means, women wherever we are can link hearts and hands to partake in and contribute to a shared stance of solidarity.  We can do it for the voiceless anywhere we want, we are women and though muted by the many dramas and truamas unfolding in our own lives, communities and countries, we still hear these voices crying and screaming out and we will help.

Just watch and see.  Women of Haiti, help is on the way.

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