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TALK BACK: No surprise to readers NIS may need cash

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

TALK BACK: No surprise to readers NIS may need cash

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Recently, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer Suckoo has been seeking to reassure Barbadians that all is well with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
However, according to an article published in the Friday’s WEEKEN NATION, Government has been warned to make a cash injection to the unemployment benefits fund  or it won’t be able to pay benefits to those who are no longer working within the next two years.
Here are some of the views from online readers.
Pan Willie: We heard a while ago that the Unemployment Fund was struggling, so why wasn’t this recommendation made earlier? I suppose the actuary will be paid even when the unemployed have to fall in line and wait.
Big Sky: Wow, did it take a degree to know that less workers mean less contributions and also if the Government can’t pay the people while they are employed will they be able to pay them now they are unemployed?
Mac 10: How does Derek Osborne, chief actuary at Bahamian company Horizonow Consultants know more about the NIS here than the Bajan people?
Carl Harper: The Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, warned of this possibility during last July’s debate on the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment) Bill 2013. Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler dismissed Mottley’s assertions that the unemployment benefit fund was in jeopardy and headed towards insolvency. He neither confirmed nor denied claims that the NIS income had fallen by almost 25 per cent.
David Hall: The National Insurance is living up to its name and concept of assurance. It seemingly has become the guarantor of debts, public and private. It lends to fund Government projects, and has lent to fund Four Seasons private project, do we really think that it has an unlimited supply of money?
Michael Goddard: On June 2 – a mere four days ago, Minister Byer Suckoo said: “It has been challenging . . . we have had to dip into the savings of the NIS but it is prepared to meet the demands of the people for the next several years, and since we do anticipate economic growth in a couple of years, we are not beginning to panic and I do not encourage you to panic either. We are still looking good.”
How do you reconcile these conflicting views? It’s truly shocking. Barbadians should be very worried and demand corrective action and accountability. The minister continued to say: “Thousands of workers have been retrenched in the public and private sectors and they have had to turn to the NIS,” calling it “a lifeline for many”. Well it seems this administration has cut that lifeline.
Bim Bum: So the chickens coming home to roost?
Simon Templar: As usual, this explains the statements by the Minister of Labour only last week about the soundness of the NIS, as a pre-emptive action to mitigate (spin) what the Government knew would be in the public domain shortly, namely Moody’s report and the NIS actuarial review.