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Published 14th July 2010, 1:13pm

The Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, the National Pensions Board (NPB) and the National Pensions Office (NPO) are working together on a series of initiatives to improve pension administration. While work is already underway to reorganise the delivery of both labour and pension services, the Ministry, the NPB and the NPO have agreed on other, more immediate, steps, which should bolster compliance with the National Pensions Law (NPL). Foremost amongst these is the appointment of a new pension inspector, Charles Best. Mr. Best, who joined the NPO on 1 July, comes with significant practical investigative experience, which will assist the NPO and any successor entity in more effectively investigating and, where appropriate, prosecuting cases of non-compliance with the NPL. In addition an amendment to the NPL, which introduces fixed penalties for pension-related offences, is also at an advanced stage with the Legislative Drafting Department. Once completed, this should assist in the development of a compliance culture, which will be integral to the creation of a more effective regime for the regulation of private sector pensions. Other amendments to the NPL to improve its operation are also planned. To this end consultation with various stakeholders is already in process to inform the instructions required to draft the consequent amendments. It is further recognised that sufficient funding must be provided to finance the administration of private sector pensions. Thus, an amendment to the National Pensions (General) Regulations, which will increase fees associated with the on-going registration of pension plans and the administration of the NPL, was passed in Cabinet and affirmed in the Legislative Assembly. The national pension scheme has been in effect since 1998 and Minister Anglin has recently announced a major overhaul, which will also take in the reform of labour services. Coordination between the Ministry, the NPB and the NPO will be similarly critical in these efforts. As a result, the NPB has developed an action plan, which has been endorsed by the Ministry. The pensions board is working harmoniously with the Ministry to facilitate a smooth transition to the proposed regulation of pensions by CIMA and a new Department of Labour and Pensions. The engagement of Ms. Theresa Pitcairn, as a consultant to the Ministry, has added further impetus to this transition process. Ms. Pitcairnís extensive legal experience is already proving to be an important addition to the team, as it works to develop the legislative framework necessary to support the realignment and ultimately improve regulation. "I greatly appreciate the dedication and productive efforts of the NPB," Minister Anglin said, "Especially its Chairman, Mr. Orren Merren, and the Acting Superintendent of Pensions, Ms. Amy Wolliston, who is also the NPB's chief administrative officer. "Iím also thankful to Ms. Pitcairn, for her incisive analysis and recommendations in support of the entire realignment exercise." (End)