IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: The real NIS pay slip
I DID NOT WANT to be political two weeks in a row, but space did not allow me to deal with this matter last week.
During the Estimates debate in the House of Assembly two weeks ago Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Opposition Leader Mia Mottley came to high words over whether or not directors of the National Insurance Scheme had been given a 200 per cent increase in fees.
When it first came up I have to confess some serious questions filled my head. High on the list was: How could any sensitive Cabinet approve that level of increase for those board members when civil servants had been struggling for so long, surviving on low single-digit movements – or none at all?
Under the circumstances, when Mia produced a Cabinet document showing that the directors had indeed received an increase after Sinckler had insisted he had no knowledge of it, I felt her insistence that he apologise to the country was not unreasonable.
But then I had a chance to look closely at the documents and listen again to what the various parties had to say and I was flabbergasted. Yes, the directors had indeed received a 200 per cent increase in fees – from $300 per month to $900.
My goodness gracious, we have a set of people who are responsible for an agency that has to manage in excess of $5 billion of Barbadians’ money and we were paying them a mere $300 per month?
Now if that is not the height of insanity I don’t know what is. You think somebody could get me to sit on a board that is responsible for that much money, where if I make the wrong decision I can screw up the lives of countless Barbadians living and still to be born, and worse where I can be held personally liable, for $300?
If the Opposition has problems with how the increase was initiated that’s fine – par for the course. But noise over $900 when you are responsible for the safekeeping and investment of billions?
In all fairness, $900 a month is an insult, in my books. Anyone remembers the licks those people got last year over malfunctioning computer systems and failure to pay outstanding entitlements to poor people? For $300 a month?
Not me! Would not do it! You could not even call and ask me a question about serving!