The three-day 28th CARICOM Heads of Social Security Meeting began in Bridgetown on Wednesday with Barbados urging regional countries to ensure that their social security systems are strong enough to withstand the economic shocks from the global economic crisis.

Addressing delegates Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development Minister, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, said that despite the challenges to social security systems on account of the global economic crisis, the population will still be dependent on their pensions and benefits long after the recession has passed.

She said cognisant of the pressures on the various social security institutions across the region “it is therefore important, now more than ever before, that you ensure the viability of your schemes in the face of such pressure.”

Noting that most social security systems in the region encountered similar challenges such as globalization; low coverage among self-employed persons and the informal sector; the demographic shift towards aging populations; and the high rate of chronic NCDs, the Labour Minister said the meeting’s theme “Sustaining Social Security Systems in the Context of Economic and Social Pressures” was timely given the prevailing circumstances.

The meeting here is being attended by delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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