Sinckler dismisses claims on benefit fund, NIS
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last night dismissed Opposition assertions that the unemployment benefit fund was in jeopardy, but neither confirmed nor denied claims that the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) income had fallen by almost 25 per cent.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s claims of an unemployment fund headed towards possible insolvency and a decline in NIS income came after Sinckler introduced the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment) Bill 2013 which provides for a waiver of outstanding interest payable on arrears to the NIS.
Mottley said that while her understanding was that the NIS’ severance fund was still “reasonably healthy”, the news was not as positive for the unemployment fund and NIS income.
“It is our information, and the minister can verify if it is wrong, that for the first five to six months of this year the income of the National Insurance Scheme has in fact declined by almost 25 per cent on last year,” said the Opposition Leader who also expressed concern that information about the current state of the NIS and the scheme’s investment portfolio was not available since the annual reports and actuarial reviews were not up to date.
“I’m also told, and the minister can confirm or deny, that the unemployment benefit fund is now paying out at the rate of twice what is collected. I’m told that the employment benefit fund collects about $2.5 million a month in unemployment benefit contributions but it is now paying out at a rate of $5 million a month which clearly is unsustainable and would lead to a situation where the unemployment benefit fund may become insolvent if there is no correction made to the operations of the fund on current trajectory.” (DP)