Relief Felt In Cook Islands After Court Superfund Decision

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Court finds Superannuation Fund Act constitutional

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 20, 2014) – Relief has been the reaction of workers and Government alike as a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision on the country’s superfund.

On Monday the Cook Islands Court of Appeal made a decision on the constitutionality of the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund Act 2000.

The Court of Appeal found and declared that the Act is a valid enactment of the Parliament of the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands Minister of Finance, Mark Brown said that the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund was a fundamental pillar of the country’s retirement policy.

"We are becoming a more prosperous nation, we must move with the times, and we must ensure that the standard of living that our people have become accustomed to is maintained as much as possible in their retirement"

"The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund is beneficial to the lives of workers in the Cook Islands, not detrimental.

"All of us, Government, the CINSF Board and employers need to continue pointing out to CINSF members what the benefits of saving for retirement are."

"The recent effort by the CINSF Board to hold an annual general information meeting for members which included representatives from the New Zealand Public Trustee, the investment managers, Russell Investment, was a welcome step in this direction.

"Ultimately, this sort of action is the best way for members to keep the Board accountable and be informed about what is happening with their retirement savings."

In pointing out what modifications may be made to the Act Minister Brown said that these would only be presented to the Parliament following a meaningful consultation and dialogue with stakeholders, including employers and members.

"The Act will continue to preserve the spirit of establishing a pool of savings which will provide retirement income for workers in the Cook Islands, through a mixture of personal savings, employer contributions and investment earnings.

"Any modifications will need to ensure this spirit is preserved and is in the interest of the member at the time of retirement."

The Cook Islands National Superannuation uncertainty has now come to an end and I am very happy with the court decision said CIWA President and Board Member Mr Anthony Turua.

"The uncertainty of the scheme has created social issues among workers that their intention to provide savings for retirement will come to an end however the court decision on Monday has ended all speculation, anxiety and unease of their future."

The court decision will cause major administration compliance with employers which CINSF will closely work together without compromising employment of our employees, he said.

"It will be a complex issue ahead says Mr Turua and CINSF will need to sit down with employers and employees to manage the compliance issue without any redundancy to the business or to our hard working employees."

In terms of legislation amendment, the board has taken on board some of the initiatives raised at the general meeting last month and will work closely with trustees, fund managers, administrators and legal advisors to deal with portability, insurance and the review of the SIPO, he said.

"This is by far one of the best social security schemes that I have seen in the region including NZ and Australia and we need to work closely with each other to consistently improve the scheme and that both the employer and employee are happy with affordability."

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