If Christmas is the season of giving, then every month is Christmas at the Social Security Board. Each month, we made up our lists and via audit, we checked it thrice; to see who has been naughty and who has been nice.” Sadly, 309 claims have been naughty and had to be denied, but this is only a very small fraction of the requests that we received.” Meanwhile, because most of you have been good in paying your dues, we have honoured thousands of claims and have made many persons happy.” Some of them were happy before, but there are an additional 165 persons (maybe more) who attained age 62 and were rewarded for their commitment and loyalty to Social Security by being awarded either a monthly pension or an age grant.” That part of our goodwill is prescribed by law. At a youth symposium in Nevis, an attendee asked me to clarify the difference between contributions and donations.” A contribution is that which you ” and your employer – pay to Social Security, and a donation is that which the institution gives based on the policy developed by the Board.”” Donations are those things that we give which we do not have to give, and which bring smiles to people’s faces.” This is our ascribed goodwill. In January 2009, the cycle of goodwill will begin all over again when US$100,000.00 will be earmarked for the Ministries of Health to be shared 70:30 between St. Kitts and Nevis; and to be used to upgrade our health facilities.” Over the years we have seen the value that such a donation has added to our health infrastructure ” Dental Unit, Intensive Care Unit, programming for the elderly, Diabetic Association, Pharmacy Enhancement, Solid Waste Management Programme ” just to name a few. One would scarcely argue against such a worthwhile cause that has amounted to over US$2million over the 25 years of its existence.” We believe that a healthy people is a working people and a working people is a paying people.” We put money where Social Security mouth is! We have also given generously to national activities ” Carnival, Culturama, Music Festival. These are the times when the nation plays and could be considered as our version of an economic stimulus plan. Many argue that such generousity yields no tangible benefit, but we disagree.” This is the time when vendoring (self-employment) is greatest and by now everybody knows that vendors are welcome at Social Security. We simply have to do a better job at reaching the self-employed where they are and at this time when sales are good!” In fact, these periods of partying are periods when all self-employed people seem to do well.” Therefore, this Christmas we encourage all of you to lay aside something for yourself with Social Security and build up your pension.” All of us can help in this regard by encouraging all self-employed persons to comply. And then there is education.” It is a truism that education is one of the surest ways to escape poverty. And since escaping poverty is what Social Security is all about, we are happy to join hands with those involved in education, especially of our young people. So this year, we gave to summer programmes, to schools and colleges, to churches and to adult education.” Our only hope is that we do not make our people so smart that they find new ways of avoiding payments into the Fund when they become of age! One other thing we do is share information.” This year, we have had an unusual amount of requests for information of all sorts. We have been happy to share this information as it helps to build public awareness. Rest assured though that we have only released general information ” your private details have been kept private. Over the years, we have also engendered goodwill by partnering with the Departments of Labour to raise awareness about health and safety in your workplaces as well as in your homes. We really do care about this because the better your workplace, the more productive you become and the healthier you remain.” We have seen enough cases of back problems to remain inured to the problem. Finally, you have responded to our invitation to participate in reforming Social Security to make it more vigourous and more resilient to upcoming challenges, and there are many challenges.” We remain confident, however that together we can face down all and every challenge that comes our way. So enjoy your season. Goodwill to all.” Happy Christmas to all; and to all a Blessed 2009!” Remember, ’tis more blessed to give than to receive!
- Advertisement -