Mrs. Antoinette Skelton has demitted office as Director of the Social Security Board, months ahead of her scheduled retirement, leading to questions about whether she was forced out.
Mrs. Skelton, who has held the position for the past 38 years, abruptly left office at very short notice on December 31, prior to her scheduled retirement of 30th June 2021.
Former Premier, Dr. D. Orlando Smith took to Facebook on Sunday to pay tribute to Mrs. Skelton for managing so carefully and competently that very important social safety net, put in place nearly fifty years ago for the benefit of all who live and work in the British Virgin Islands.
"Thank you, Mrs. Skelton for your contribution to this very important aspect of our economy – one that has brought us peace of mind at the end of our formal working life or during illness. I wish the new Director well and trust that he or she will continue to manage our regular contributions with the right degree of prudence and judiciousness," Dr. Smith stated.
He shared that Mrs. Skelton joined the Social Security Board in 1982 as Deputy Director, and on the retirement of Mr. Joshua Smith, the first Director of the Board, she was appointed to the position of Director, carrying out her attendant responsibilities with distinction, ensuring the financial viability, growth and profitability of the organization. In fact, the BVI Social Security Board is recognized as one of the most effective in the Caribbean.
Dr. Smith pointed out that under her leadership the fund of the Board continued to grow, most recently at 31st December 2020 being recorded at over $744M, while meeting promptly and regularly its many obligations to the public, including regular monthly stipends to retirees wherever they reside.
In addition, the Board has also supported several projects at Peebles Hospital for the benefit of all who use that facility.
"Mrs. Skelton is held in high regard by her counterparts in the Caribbean, and has the distinction of being the first woman to represent the English Speaking Caribbean on the Bureau of the International Social Security Association (ISSA). She was the longest serving member of the Bureau, and during those years sat on several of its committees including the task force on the extension of coverage," Dr. Smith stated.
He said that in fact, it was because of her competent management of Social Security that it was decided by the Government, which he led at the time, to have that other important part of the social network of the BVI, the National Health Insurance program placed under the Social Security Board.
"Mrs. Skelton came to the position well qualified with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (with honors). She has served her country well, and must be recognized fully and properly for her contribution to the BVI all these years," Dr. Smith stated.