Senior Advisor to the Barbados Government, Dr Kevin Greenidge, has described the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS) Programme as “a good savings option” in which he himself will be investing.
And, Dr Greenidge has advised those persons who can afford to save, to invest in the bonds, saying there are no financial instruments currently on the market which offer such an attractive rate of five per cent interest.
“This is a savings instrument; if you can afford to save, there is nothing better at the moment. If you can’t afford to save, you will get all your money. I encourage public officers to evaluate it. It is an opportunity for average Barbadians and workers to save and let their money work for them. If you put your money in the bank now, at the end of the day you wouldn’t make any money,” he pointed out.
Several sensitization meetings have been held, and the Senior Advisor said an increasing number of public officers were expressing interest in participating in the BOSS programme.
“We have had good reception from public officers over the last couple of weeks. Once people have full access to all the information and understand the programme, people will make informed choices. I think this is a good opportunity,” he stated.
The BOSS programme has been developed to create approximately $100 million in fiscal space for capital works spending in key areas, to absorb a percentage of the unemployment that has arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the programme’s objectives are to protect public sector employment, and follow the principle of burden sharing by allowing investment to facilitate the creation of more jobs.
Public officers and employees of state-owned enterprises working for $3,001 or more, and who have opted for the bonds, will, from July 2020 to December 2021, receive most of their salary in cash and the remainder in a bond.
The percentage of net take-home pay to be converted to the bonds range from seven, 12 or 17, with 25 per cent being the highest anyone can request.
Holders of the four-year bond will receive a five per cent interest rate per annum, to be paid semi annually, with no withholding tax on the money earned. The bond is fully tradable and will have an early redemption feature, after 24 months of the date of issue.
Some public officers have already decided that they will take up the bonds, including Peter Dawson and Natalie Murray. Even before Mr Dawson attended the sensitization meetings, he had plans to invest in the bonds, but by the end of the presentation, he was determined that he would make the sacrifice.
“The country, because of COVID-19, is in dire straits and as a public servant for 30-plus years, I have been through situations where our country has had to do things to survive, and before, you weren’t given any real opportunity to be part of the decision-making. It was fairly rough, and you just had to take it.
“On this occasion, what I have found is that there is a lot of opportunity and flexibility, so that is one of my real reasons why I am taking it,” he stated.
Mr Dawson said the BOSS programme would give him, an average Barbadian, and other colleagues, an opportunity to invest. Therefore, he stated, even though he has his monthly bills and commitments, he would make the necessary sacrifices. His message, therefore, to public servants is to invest in the bonds if they are financially able.
“When your country needs you and you can actually have a positive impact, you should probably do it. Secondly, it is a chance for you to invest in yourself because the country needs the money and it has to get it somehow,” he stated.
Ms Murray noted that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic ordeal in Barbados, no public officer lost his job. She said her reasons for taking bonds were personal and professional, explaining that she had lost her job in 2009.
“I also lost my confidence because of all the uncertainty that was around me. I was not the confident individual that I used to be.
“So, I understand what people who are unemployed are going through. And professionally, I know the importance of a job because the profession I am in, I see how a job makes a difference in the lives of individuals. You are able to pay your bills; you are able now to meet the needs of your family, especially those mothers and fathers who have small children.
“When you don’t have a job, you feel that sense of despair; you feel like you don’t have any hope. So, for me, if buying a bond would help those individuals to be able to feed their family, to have a voice, I, for sure, will be making a commitment to the bonds,” she stated. (BGIS)
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