Legislation to delay implementation of the new MISSA law was introduced on the first day of the Nitijela session last week.
Bill 54 was introduced by Health Minister Kalani Kaneko and supported by Finance Minister Brenson Wase, and Senators David Paul (Kwajalein), Dennis Momotaro (Mejit), and Bruce Bilimon (Maloelap).
The bill is brief and to the point: “Any references to January 1, 2017 in the Social Security Amendment Act 2016 (PL 2016-26) shall be replaced with a date to be determined by Cabinet by a written executive instrument.” But this was later amended to a March 1 implementation date.
The new tax increase and benefits reduction was scheduled to go into force January 1. The bill was expected to go to third and final reading for approval on Thursday.
In the meantime, while Bill 54 is pending, Speaker Kenneth Kedi told the Journal Tuesday that Nitijela’s legislative counsel’s office is drafting a bill to amend Public Law 2016-26.
“I instructed the legislative counsel to put legislation together to incorporate what David Strauss sent to me,” he said. Kedi said he wanted to have the MISSA bill ready earlier for introduction. “The reason why this legislation is late is that we couldn’t access email,” he said. “I haven’t been able to check email for two weeks.”
The Speaker said that based on the discussions held with retirees last month, “I assured them that we will look at their concern about the five percent reduction in benefits and other issues.”
Read more about this in the January 13, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.