In the coming months, Barbadians owed some $465 million by Government through contributions to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) will be paid.
The assurance was given by Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, who did not indicate where the cash-strapped Government intended to source the funds but was nonetheless confident that “we will find the money”.
In his presentation as he supported the Public Service (General) Order, 2018 in the House of Assembly yesterday, Straughn reiterated his Government's pledge to be current in all its obligations, particularly through this period of debt restructuring.
Lambasting the former Democratic Labour Party Government for, according to him, failing to live up to its responsibility, he signalled his administration would not repeat what they did.
He said: “And whilst we have taken decisions obviously to suspend our debt [repayment], the reality is that we are managing our cash flow position, but we are managing our cash flow position whilst being honourable and keeping the faith when it comes to financial responsibility. Because if you don't do right by the people then it means that at some point in the future the people would be calling for your heads. And we do not intend to repeat the same mistakes that the previous government did."
As the country's largest public employer, Straughn underscored Government's responsibility to ensure that the safety net of its workers, the NIS, was always secured and he therefore maintained that members of the previous administration “should hang their heads in shame for failing to live up to the basis obligations”.
“So let me repeat it, $465 million that the Government of Barbados owes to the National Insurance and therefore over the course of the coming months and over the adjustment period we will find the money, not just to continue to be current with the National Insurance for public servants but we shall also repay our almost $300 million in arrears that the Government of Barbados owes on behalf of public servants.
"People must know that when you go to work and you take out the National Insurance out of their salaries that the employer is paying their portion too, so that if somebody gets ill and needs to call on the National Insurance, that the National Insurance is in a position to respond to their need,” he said. (SDB Media)