Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh has instructed management at the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to clear its backlog of contributions not credited to the accounts of pensioners. The official made this disclosure during one of his most recent interviews with Globespan, an online discussion platform hosted by members from the Diaspora.
During that meeting, Dr. Singh was asked questions pertaining to NIS and plans for its longevity and improved management. In this regard, Dr. Singh said, “One of the biggest issues facing NIS is people who are unable to access their benefits on time. So they retire and are not able to get their pensions because their records are not up to date or they submit a claim and they are not able to get their benefits because of bureaucracy or some other reason and a lot of people have been affected.”
The Minister made it clear that he is not pleased with this state of affairs and has called on NIS managers to erode the stock of backlog as quickly as possible.
The Senior Minister said he has also made it pellucid to management that it has to make a better effort at addressing the complaints of citizens and reduce same dramatically.
This is not the first time however that NIS which covers over 150, 000 workers would have been called upon to address its backlog of contributions that is sitting outside of accounts.
Back in 2016, an actuarial valuation was done on the entity which covers about 60 percent of the employed population and provides protection for old age, disability, death, employment injury, maternity, sickness benefits and medical care. During that exercise on which a report was done, Guyana Standard understands that auditors couldn’t get the accumulated number of weeks of contribution for each active and inactive member.
To address the situation, for each year between I989 and 20I6, the auditors noted in their report that a file was requested containing information on everyone who contributed to the scheme. An exercise of merging all the files was undertaken to get the required information. Following this, the auditors found in the past that a very high proportion of the contributions paid to the scheme was not allocated to the account of the individual. For example, in 1990, 30 percent of the contributions were not allocated to the individual account.
Despite a significant improvement over the years, the auditors said that having such a high proportion in the past raises some questions. “Questions arose as to how the NIS could be sure that accurate information is used when calculating the new pension. In other words, not all the completed information may be used to calculate the pension,” the report said.
It was pointed out too that the high number of persons asking for a review of their pension or going to appeal corroborates this situation.
Even though this matter was pointed out in 2016 with urgent recommendations to address the same, nothing was done.