National conversation needed on raising retirement age – Labour Minister

Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton is of the view that a national conversation is needed on raising the retirement age very shortly. He made this disclosure during a recent community outreach at Kaneville, East Bank Demerara. The current retirement age in the public sector is 55.
The eligibility for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension benefit is 60 years.
“We as a nation, we have to have a national conversation on the issue of raising the retirement age. Because at least in my view when a person retires, they must be able to get their NIS pension they contributed towards for years,” he said as he outlined Government’s plans to introduce training programmes for retirees which will see them re-entering the workforce. The training programmes will be executed by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT).
“We will do some different types of training because when we talk about training all the time, every time we just talk about training young people. I believe we must fashion training programmes for retirees. A woman at 55 or a man at 55 who retire and are still strong healthy and well, they are mature and have experience; they can give to the community still,” Hamilton added.
Against this backdrop, he noted that BIT will very soon launch programmes to reskill retirees to come back into the workforce.
A 2016 Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the public service of Guyana, among other things, recommended that the retirement age for new entrants into the public service, and those currently in the public service who are below age 50, be retired on attaining 65 years, with the option of retiring on attaining 60 years.
“lt is argued that the age of 55 is too early an age for retirement for public servants. Testimonies to the Commission support and advocate for higher retirement age for public service staff,” the CoI said. It added that the advocacy for an increase in the retirement age is to provide for the retention of valuable, experienced and skilled professionals.
According to the CoI, the contention is that at age 55, public servants would have acquired deep knowledge and wide experience in public management and in their professional and specialist fields, therefore, it is one of the arguments used to justify the re-employment of retired public servants on contracts immediately upon retirement.
Public sector organisations such as the Bank of Guyana, the National Insurance Scheme, the Guyana Revenue Authority, and staff of the Audit Office of Guyana have a retirement age of 60 years. The retirement age for staff at the University of Guyana is 65 years, and for the members of Judiciary and the Auditor General, the retirement age is 65 years.
The Private Sector also has higher than the public service retirement age based on pension schemes providing for retirement between 60 and 65 years, and with no fixed retirement age for top executives. Similarly, there is no retirement age for parliamentarians and Ministers. (G1)