Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh on Monday commended the Board and staff of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) for disposing of all 14,000 inherited pending claims since the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP/C) returned to office in 2020.
The minister also urged the staff to recommit themselves to ensuring a more efficient and respected entity going forward. Dr. Singh was addressing the NIS Board, staff and other invitees during the entity’s 54th Anniversary and Awards ceremony held at the Patrick Martinborough Multipurpose Complex, on Carifesta Avenue.
“I am proud of the NIS but the organization is getting a bad rap because of a few bad eggs and because of a few cases that really are tainting the entire Scheme and so the NIS has an obligation to deliver service in an efficient manner. On the occasion of this 54th Anniversary, I will appeal to you once again to raise the standards of your operation and to deliver efficient service to ensure that everybody that is coming in, that the claims are vigorously dealt with,” the Finance Minister urged.
Dr. Singh also posited that the government is firmly committed to the Scheme and to ensuring its viability.
“Work has already started; a new Actuarial Review has commenced. The Actuary has met with a number of stakeholders. This Government led by the President His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali is firmly committed to the long-term viability of the NIS. So, we are here for the long haul,” Minister Singh reiterated.
The Finance Minister then congratulated all persons who received bursary and long-service awards.
The General Manager of NIS, Holly Greaves also expressed gratitude to the minister, the NIS Board and all staff for their dedication and hard work over the years.
Chairman of the NIS Board, Ramesh Persaud noted that the Scheme needs to revisit its rules in keeping with a modern world.
“Society has transformed and so will be required of the NIS. The challenges of NIS have to be resolved now.”
A priority of the government when it assumed office in 2020 was to address the complaints received from contributors with pending claims at the time amounting to 14,000 as of November 2020. In support of this effort, the Cabinet undertook a series of nationwide outreach sessions that took the services of NIS to the citizens, with 12 sessions held in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10.
Over 1,300 people across the country have benefitted from these sessions, many of whom are in receipt of Old Age Pensions after waiting for a number of years. Additionally, all inherited 14,000 pending claims have been resolved.
However, the Finance Minister said much more remains to be done.
Dr. Singh reiterated that the NIS was conceived in 1969 and remains today the preeminent national institution to provide for those who are unable to work, for medical insurance and for the sick and the elderly and to provide for those who exit employment.
During the 54th Anniversary ceremony, children of NIS employees who performed outstandingly at various annual examinations, including the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) were provided with Bursary Awards while long-serving employees and retirees also received awards. (Modified press release from the Ministry of Finance)