World Bank Treasury completes two-day Social Security Board ‘Peer Review Mission’

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, February 4, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — A four-man team from the Reserves Advisory and Management Programme (RAMP) of the World Bank Treasury headed by Lead Financial Officer, Mr Bernard Murira, was in the Federation on Thursday and Friday, January 30-31, on a Peer Review Mission to the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board.

“The objective of this visit was to assess the investment management operations of the Social Security Board, and discuss the World Bank Treasury’s Reserves Advisory and Management Partnership (RAMP),” said Mr Murira who met the Social Security Board team led by Mr Oscar Walters, the Chairman, and management and staff led by Mr Antonio Maynard, the Director.

According to the World Bank Treasury official, RAMP is a “capacity-building programme for strengthening the investment management framework of official-sector pension funds and social security systems, including ways in which we many further support the Social Security Board in achieving its fiduciary responsibility of ensuring its financial sustainability.”

The World Bank has since the ’90s provided policy advice to member countries on the design of pension systems, noted Mr Murira, who was accompanied by Financial Officer Mr Nikoloz Anasashvili, Principal Actuary Mr Eric Gires, and Portfolio Manager Mr Natan Rico. The advice emphasises for individual country conditions using the principals of affordability and financial sustainability as tight stones.

“Today the World Bank Treasury complements these advisory services with workshops, internships, and other capacity-building opportunities in fundamental disciplines of public sector asset management,” said Mr Murira on Friday January 31. “It is in this context we have been here this week.”

Through RAMP, the World Bank Treasury assists with enhancing the financial sustainability of official-sector pension and social security systems by strengthening their investment operations and infrastructure. In doing so it draws on the long experience of managing the World Bank Group’s Pension Funds as well as other resources across the broad spectrum of asset classes in global markets with a track record of optimising investment returns within a framework of prudent risk parameters.

“The Social Security Board is an important pillar of social protection for the citizens and residents of the Federation and we are honoured to have the opportunity to partner with the Board to support them in achieving this fiduciary responsibility,” said Mr Murira.

The St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, observed Mr Murira, has a clear vision in terms of what they want to achieve and the World Bank Treasury’s role is bringing additional experience including sharing global best practices, and enhancing the governance structures that meet the specific parameters of the Fund including aligning the incentives of fiduciaries with those of multiple stakeholders and, in the process, ensure transparency of and accountability for results.

“The leadership is on the right track,” stated the World Bank Treasury official. “There are challenges, and the Management and the Board are well aware of those challenges. They are in discussions and consultation with all stakeholders, including government, so as to be able to ensure that the system is sustainable for the citizens and resident of this Federation.”

Mr Murira revealed that his team has been visiting other social security systems in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in a similar capacity, as it believes there is significant scope for cooperation amongst the various OECS states for knowledge-sharing and learning from each other.

“We strongly support the initiatives that are already in place across the social security systems of the OECS, and CARICOM region more broadly, and we look forward to being a part of them,” he said.

According to Mr Antonio Maynard, Director, St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, the genesis of the mission came out of discussions between the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and social security organisations in OECS, where it was felt that the World Bank could add much value as a partner to the social security funds throughout the region especially in the areas of their investment portfolio, and technical and related advice.

“The objectives of this mission are to assess the investment management operations of the Social Security Board and discuss Treasury’s Reserves Advisory and Management Partnership (RAMP),” explained Mr Maynard. “It also includes capacity-building programme for our staff, and to assess the governance and investment policy framework. We believe that partnership with the World Bank is indispensible.”

Mr Maynard further noted: “This visit was at no cost to the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board.”