Blame game! – McNeill, Bartlett in spat over proposed tourism workers pension scheme
Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill is incensed by the constant delay in the introduction of the long-promised tourism workers pension scheme.
According to McNeill, when he demitted office in 2016, “everything was set up” for a complete roll-out of the scheme, including a memorandum of understanding with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) to start out a contributory pension scheme for the whole sector.
He said the scheme was to possess were only available in January 2017, but Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has missed four deadlines which were set by the tourism ministry since that time.
“Among the things I fought for some was the pension scheme, here today and I have to say it, I’m distressed, annoyed, angry. We have been now at the ultimate end of 2018 and the pension scheme still is not taken to Parliament.
“Personally i think this is a disgrace because, frankly quite, it’s the plain thing which will create a paradigm shift in tourism,” said McNeill during his keynote address at the annual meeting of the UDrive Association of Jamaica the other day.
But in an instant response, Bartlett told The Sunday Gleaner that McNeill’s assertions were unfounded and his anger misdirected.
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Bartlett argued that during his tenure as tourism minister, McNeill had, among other activities, didn’t create a good draft of the legislation to go the scheme into reality.
According to Bartlett, the former minister should “appreciate the preparatory work which has needed to be done” make it possible for the ministry to take the scheme further.
“He shouldn’t speak, because he previously four years when he didn’t even go on it to Cabinet. It never even reached to the level in which a draft was had by you of the legislation. We have been only two . 5 years in to the period and we have been discovering a substantial amount of the deficiencies of this period which we’ve to be correcting,” Bartlett argued.
“I have to say he’s got no basis which to be (angry); because we’d to do all of the dirty work. We discovered all of the deficiencies which were in the initial arrangements. We’d to go on it and replan it literally, because, for instance, the FSC (Financial Services Commission) had no notion of how to proceed with the program,” added Bartlett.
He said the tourism ministry has been very meticulous because the tourism workers pension plan does not have any precedent all over the world, and as a result there is absolutely no benchmarking that may provide guidance.