The Joe’s Hill Manor Estate has been equated to a distressing weight burdening pensioners, and concerns have been raised that the Social Security Board (SSB) may never recoup its million-dollar investment into the hillside property.
Eighth District Representative Marlon Penn raised those concerns when he recently questioned Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley about how to address the Joe’s Hill Manor problem.
“The government needs to buy back that asset from Social Security, deal with the asset and the longer it sits, it’s going to be a huge liability — an albatross around the necks of the pensioners of this country, who now have $26 million dollars that could be invested for their retirement sitting on a hillside. That should not be the plight of the Social Security Board,” Penn said in the House of Assembly.
Penn said he has already shared ideas with the government on how they can get the project moving after initial calls for first-time homeowners to occupy the spaces proved unsuccessful and out of their reach.
It’s not their money
But Wheatley shot back at Penn, accusing him of mischaracterising the circumstances and insisting that pensioners often receive more from the SSB than they put in.
“[Opposition member Penn] made a statement that I don’t appreciate at all. To say that we have the pensioners’ money sitting on a hill. That is a very misleading statement to make,” Minister Wheatley said.
Wheatley explained that Social Security funds are usually invested for pensioners, but it’s not pensioners’ money directly, he argued. “The average person gets a lot more out of social security than they put in. So, to loosely state that $26 million dollars of of pensioners of money is sitting up there is grossly misleading,” Wheatley said.
They’re not coming again
Penn, in the meantime, insisted that the money was sitting on the hillside ‘not earning a red cent’ or accruing any interest, even as pensioners looked on.
He said the quicker that the SSB dumps the asset and allows the government to manage it, the faster the SSB can move to properly invest pensioners’ money.
Penn further argued that the government has already changed the eligibility criteria for home ownership at the Joe’s Hill Manor and nothing has happened since.
“[If] persons haven’t come forward, then them ain’t coming again. So it suggests that there’s some deeper underlying issues there that we need to [address],” Penn said.
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