Efforts to sell public servants on the terms and conditions of the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS) through direct engagement appear to be bearing fruit particularly with teachers of public secondary schools.
On Tuesday, Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) President Mary Redman revealed that 92 per cent of its members who attended a virtual meeting with Government’s chief economic advisor Dr. Kevin Greenidge on Monday voted in favour of the arrangement that allows thousands of government workers to invest a percentage of their salaries in bonds.
Despite suggestions from Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley that the presence of Government officials at such meetings is being used to intimidate, the robust discussions with the economic advisor are being lauded for providing much needed insight.
“Many of the teachers felt much more comfortable about the programme after having that explanation and being exposed to the presentation from Dr Kevin Greenidge and after being able to question him one-on-one,” Redman told Barbados TODAY.
So compelling were the arguments that they attracted support from most of the 180 teachers in attendance.
“Ninety-two per cent of the members polled indicated that they were in support of the programme through a mechanism on Zoom that allows you to conduct a poll,” Redman indicated.
The secondary school teachers were most concerned about their ability to adjust the percentage of their salary received in bonds with some indicating that they would be unable to meet Government’s requests, while others expressed interest in investing an even higher percentage of their pay in bonds.
Some teachers noted concerns with salary deductions being poorly communicated through their secretary-treasurers’ offices and asked for assurances that the appropriate systems would be put in place to ensure that their individual arrangements would be properly honoured well before pay day.
“Of definite concern was the capability of the existing bureaucracy to properly manage the adjustments of the salary in time for the end of month pay day through the established protocols of the secretary-treasurer and Smartstream. They wanted to ensure that there is no problem getting the final amounts and assurances that they would be truly shielded from further restructuring,” Redman explained.
“Even some retired members wanted to know how they could be included in the scheme, given the low rates of interest they are currently contending with at the banks and the impact of those low rates on their quality of life,” she added.
Under the BOSS initiative, public servants whose monthly take-home pay is more than $3,000 have the option of converting between seven per cent to as much as 17 per cent of their pay cheque into bonds.
Those who earn less than $3,000 a month also have the option to invest in bonds if they choose but this is not mandatory. Those who are in a position to pay more into bonds can also do so.
Those Government bonds will mature in four years at an interest rate of five per cent per annum in a bid to create approximately $100 million in fiscal space for capital spending amid the economic fallout from coronavirus.
“The teachers recognise that they have the option to save what they can when they can within that 18-month period and so, they will make the decisions in relation to those parameters to best suit their own pockets,” Redman concluded.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.