New legislation provides pension for qualifying scrutineers; Senator Nicholas hails adoption of UPP’s long-held position

The Representation of the People (Scrutineer’s Pension) Bill, 2022 is one step closer to being enacted, after it received bipartisan support in the Upper House of Parliament on Monday, December 12.

The Bill provides for a pension to be paid to a scrutineer who has worked for 10 continuous years, or for a total of 10 aggregated years, and has reached the age of 65.

Persons who served for 10 years, but did not reach the retirement age, and decide to discontinue service will be entitled to a reduced pension.  Further, provision was also made for a personal representative of a deceased scrutineer to receive benefits.

This legislation is retroactive and includes all scrutineers who served from 2002 and have satisfied the requirements to receive a pension under the Act.

Speaking on the Bill, Senator Shawn Nicholas, who is also the General Secretary of the United Progressive Party (UPP), chronicled the numerous meetings held with the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) and the Attorney-General in an effort to advance to realize this legislation.

Senator Nicholas highlighted the role played by Leader of the Opposition Jamale Pringle, former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, and attorney Leon Chaku Symister, along with the UPP Leadership, to correct an anomaly in the law.

She noted that the UPP has always held the position that scrutineers are employees of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission – even though they are appointed by political parties – and she is happy to see that the drafters of the Bill accepted the Party’s position.

Every political party that is represented in the House of Representatives can nominate a scrutineer, whose duty is to monitor the registration proceedings in the Registration Unit to which they are assigned.