The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) to ensure the social protection of Fijians working in the Cook Islands.
This latest partnership will see the transfer of superannuation savings of Fiji nationals from CINSF to FNPF upon the cessation of employment of Fiji nationals in Cook Islands. FNPF Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi said that it has taken two years to formalize the MoU and reiterated the need to have in place such initiatives to protect Fijian nationals working abroad. “This MOU enhances the protection of Fijian workers in the Cook Islands, most of whom are in the tourism industry.
Upon the expiry of their employment contracts, they can transfer their superannuation savings to their FNPF account in Fiji, where they would be able to access pre-retirement and full withdrawal benefits under our policies and procedures. Some of these workers, who have returned to Fiji, can now enjoy these benefits rather than wait until they are 60 years old to return to the Cooks and apply for their funds”, Koroi said.
The Cook Islands legislation does not allow members to access their funds until they are 60. CINSF Chief Executive Officer Damien Beddoes echoed the same sentiments stating that they have protection measures for their members’ especially international workers.
He termed the agreement between the two Funds as a “fantastic protection” program. “We have set up additional structures to protect our international workers that will ensure that employers comply and pay what is due to these workers; and therefore protecting the interest of our members and their retirement savings”, Mr Beddoes adds. Mr Beddoes has also acknowledged all Fijian workers in Cook Islands for their contribution and support to their host country.
The MoU recognizes that both Funds will promote savings for workers towards their retirement and the critical roles in upholding social security standards in their respective countries. It also expands on the need for collaboration to allow workers moving across borders within the Pacific region to save for retirement.
This initiative was witnessed by representatives from the World Bank and IFC’s social protection program and is a milestone achievement for both the FNPF and CINSF.