Restructuring the National Insurance Scheme – Part 2

Dear Editor,
I am not in the habit of responding to individuals’ writings, because I lay down the facts as it is, the problem is the analysis of the said facts that I’ve set forth and putting it in its right perspective which creates the problem for some of my readers, Rudolph Singh being such an individual.
Having said that, I shall respond to one Mr Rudolph Singh who commented on my article “Restructuring the National Insurance Scheme” published in a section of the media on March 21, 2021.
In my article, I highlighted several areas where the NIS can address to bring the organisation into the modern world of economics and make it into a viable institution, chief of which is raising the age of retirement. For Mr Singh’s information and record, the age of retirement in most of the Progressive Caribbean Territories is 65. I say “The Progressive Caribbean Territories” because whereas I am advocating a system of gradualism in Guyana to age 60, the official age of public servants’ retirement in the rest of The Caribbean is 65 years, so there you have it.
In the Guyana situation, it is even more severe in the sense that there is an intervening period of 5 years before someone is eligible for NIS, I am talking about the five-year waiting period between age 55 to 60. Now if you are not re-employed, what will your economic standing be like during the period of waiting? In this case, it makes the situation even worse, as it increases the hardships for men and heads of households, however, when you increase the age to 60 you effectively and efficiently lessen the time of waiting whilst building up a more robust NIS by way of contributions. In the final analysis, either party will go away in a more happy and contented position.
The second point I would like to bring to our attention (and this is the situation that obtains in the sister territory of St Lucia) is the fact that at retirement, a percentage is worked out, that is, years of service by the number of contributions made to the NIS and a lump sum is paid out at that stage. From that point onwards that public servant is paid from the percentage arrived at from the NIS and not from the central treasury.
This is how it is done in St Lucia and it all goes back to the point I was making all along, where provisions have been put in place due to the restructuring of the NIS and the building up of a robust saving’s scheme.
My final point addresses the subject of Government having the NIS as one of the investors in the Berbice Bridge. Mr Singh sees this as the Government of the day coercing the NIS into an investment, well, I must say that I am vehemently opposed to that suggestion, for the simple reason that an investment in national development is well worth the effort. For starters, it was an above-board and sound economic venture, beneficial to both investors and the Berbice Bridge Company itself. What Mr Singh is not telling us is that the problem was brought on by a backward, visionless political directorate at the time.
The Berbice Bridge fiasco was an election gimmick that the PNC-led coalition foisted on the people. It was all directed to spitefully hurt one man, Dr Peter Ramsaroop, who in their perception was a PPP/C supporter so they crippled the entire project to get back at him.
Again, I say that move lacked economic foresight and had all the trappings of persons in an economic backwater. Such foolishness would not stand the test of time in a modern developing economy. Further, we are no longer burdened by an economically handicapped Government and with visionless ideologies, we are now forging ahead with renewed vision in an upward trajectory.
We are to restructure with an eye on the futuristic development of the NIS and our country as a whole. Now, I would not be so naïve to expect that every aspect of the highlighted proposal will be wholly accepted into the Guyana situation, judging from the peculiarities we are faced with here in this country. However, the salient points raised can be utilised towards the happiness and prosperity of our dear land of Guyana.

Neil Adams