By Gary Hatigeva
MEMBERS of Parliament who contributed to the general principles of the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund Amendment 2018 have suggested for people within the informal employment sector to see the new NPF Saving initiative, known as the YouSave Scheme, as a timely opportunity and should use it fully to the country’s economic benefit.
This was highlighted in parliament during the debate session of the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) Amendment Bill 2018, which was later passed after it was put up for its third reading, following thorough proceedings by the Committee of the Whole House.
Speaking on this, Member of Parliament for South Choiseul, Conelley Sandakabatu urged that the majority population in the informal employment sector should utilise the scheme, with hopes to see their participation in the economic development rather than being spectators.
Based on assurance from officials as highlighted in the Bill’s report, Sandakabatu pointed out that the scheme is safe and secure, and should therefore be trusted for the mass population in the informal employment sector to make direct contributions into the national economy.
Also sharing similar sentiments, MP for Aoke/Langalanga and Chair of BLC Matthew Wale Perhaps the establishment of the YouSave Scheme is the most exciting decision that the NPF Board has taken which this Bill is seeking to give effect to.
He said the YouSave scheme will make NPF truly inclusive, allowing self-employed Solomon Islanders to participate and benefit from the financial muscle of the NPF.
“For too long, many Solomon Islanders have been shut out from such participation. Farmers, fishermen, housewives, volunteers, even conmen, can now open an account with the NPF.
“YouSave enables its members to benefit from the returns generated by the much larger resources from the compulsory contribution account.
“This may seem a little unfair to those who are members under the compulsory scheme, but I don’t think that there would be any NPF member who would disagree with the social and financial objects of YouSave,” the Aoke/Langalanga MP stressed.
He further stressed that there is an estimated 110,000 people estimated to be active in the informal economy, and this represents 18 percent of the population.
“This is a significant part of our population that do not have any superannuation services offered to them. YouSave scheme must aim, over say the next ten years aim to get half of that number into membership,” Wale added.
Objectively, the SINPF Bill 2018 looks to providing for a new voluntary pension scheme to be operated by SINPF is set for today at the National Parliament House, which will allow those in the informal employment to also save for retirement.
This new scheme improves the financial inclusion of pension savings in Solomon Islands and is supported by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme.
This change according to officials, aims to improve the financial soundness of National Fund’s decision making.
Most MPs agreed with calls for the scheme to have official set ups in the provinces particularly, in provincial headquarters for the scheme to allow for timely and cost effective transaction in payments for contributions into the YouSave scheme.
They also suggested that the SINPF Management must ensure offices are established in the provinces so that it can be well received and accessed by all who make up the majority of the informal employment sector, and also the targeted market of the scheme.