MINISTER in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning is continuing discussions with the labour movement on a proposal to increase the compulsory retirement age from 60 to 65.
A statement from the ministry said Manning met with representatives of the Amalgamated Workers Union (AWU) and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) on Thursday.
The talks were described as fruitful and engaging. The ministry said discussions with other trade unions on the proposed increase in retirement age will continue in the near future.
CWU general secretary Clyde Elder confirmed the meeting, but said, "We did indicate that we are not in support of increasing the retirement age."
In a statement on April 29, Manning said the ministry and the National Insurance Board (NIB) began consultations with the trade union movement on February 23 about raising the retirement age.
Meetings were held with the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW), Public Services Association and the TT Unified Teachers Association on February 23, April 12 and April 27, respectively.
Manning also described those talks as fruitful.
In the same statement, he rejected claims from Oropouche West MP Dave Tancoo that it was unwise to increase the retirement age.
Referring to comments Tancoo made in a newspaper article, Manning said, "The 10th Actuarial Review of the National Insurance System (NIS) clearly indicates that the NIS in its current form is not sustainable in the long term.
"The root cause of this sustainability challenge is a demographic one."
TT has an ageing population, who are living longer, and also having fewer children.
Manning said, "The net result of this is that the working population (aged 15-59) is shrinking, whereas the retiree population is growing. The 10th Actuarial Review highlighted that based on population projections, the ratio of persons in the working population to persons of retirement age was four to one in 2016. This is projected to decrease to less than two to one by 2066."
He also said Tancoo made several false statements about what increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 meant.
One was this would see an increase in national insurance payments. Manning said, "The recommendation of the actuaries to increase the retirement age is completely independent of contribution rates. There is no connection between the two, so this allegation has no basis."
Tancoo also said the National Insurance Board "is cashing in its investments to meet bills."
Manning said, "The NIB’s income from its investments in 2021, together with contribution income, was sufficient to meet its obligations to beneficiaries in 2021.
"So it is a fallacy to claim that the NIB is 'cashing in its investments to meet bills.'"
Manning said the National Insurance Fund grew by $2.1 billion in 2021 to a net value of $30.7 billion.