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By Aabigayle McIntosh
The Executive Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Board indicated that improvements were made in the fund last year as a result of the changes that were made in the contribution rate and pensionable age.
To make the scheme viable, there has been a gradual increase in the contribution from employers and employees along with a shift in the age of retirement which will taper off at the age of 65 years in 2025.
“If you look through 2023 with the great help of the Almighty and with just those adjustments in the contribution rate and a great deal of effort on the part of staff, and management, we were able to pay our benefits and pay our benefits on time. Primarily pensions, we have been and have experienced delays with short term and we have closed that gap towards the end of the year so that everyone received their benefits,” Mathias said
Mathias also added that the increases were necessary.
“The simple reality and the reason for this consistent change is that from 2009 onwards we at Social Security found it increasingly challenging to pay our benefits as well as meet operating expenses”.
Effective the 1st of January 2024, there has been a 0.5 percent increase in contribution rates.
The rates now stand at 14% for the public sector, and 15% for the private sector, while the self-employed rate remains unchanged at 10%.
This means for the public sector; the contribution will be 5.75% to be paid by the employee and 8.75% by the employer.
Similarly, employees in the private sector will cover 8.75% and employers 6.75%. Additionally, there has been a gradual increase in the pension age advancing by one year every two years.
This phase adjustment commenced in 2017 and is set to conclude reaching the age of 65 by the year 2025.
Mathias said the situation is impacting other countries with similar Social Security frameworks.