Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) Roger Luncheon is mulling ideas to give the National Assembly a greater role in the management of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Currently, the Scheme’s Board of Directors, of which Luncheon is the Chairman, is responsible for determining the Scheme’s policies and direction.
NIS has been the target of much criticism from observers over the years, particularly because due towhat has been described as unsavoryfigures outlined in the agency’s last few Actuarial Reports. At the very least, critics have called for better management of the Scheme.
During his post-Cabinet press-brief on Wednesday, Luncheon suggested that the Scheme’s Board ought not to be the sole repository of decision-making powers. He said “I have been thinking along the lines of maybe legislation…an amendment of the legislation to give a greater role, perhaps, for the National Assembly in determining some of the decisions that right now, by the very Act, belong, and are discharged by the Board,” the HPS said.
With regard to the Scheme’s current financial standing, Luncheon says “the scheme is solvent, the scheme is financially sound.” He says this was suggested by the most recent Actuarial Report, and added that he “wants to believe” that Cabinet is encouraged by reports of revenue and expenditure hitting the GUY$1 billion mark.
“The evidence so far, the high point is our Actuarial Review that is done every 5 years. It indeed painted a picture different from what the naysayers and the detractors would have you believe,” Luncheon said.
Meanwhile, Luncheon shared that the Scheme, through its Data Entry and Verification Project, has computerized all contribution records. The mandate to execute this task was given to the Scheme last year and the project ran from June to December 2014.
This development, if it yields improvements, will satiate aggrieved contributors, particularly those who continue to complain about the Scheme’s inefficiencies.
What Cabinet has found discouraging, he conceded, is that over 1.1 million contribution records were not verified by December 31st. The result, he explained, is that an undisclosed number of persons are making contributions but are unable to benefit from those contributions.
“The cause was fully explored,” said Luncheon, who explained that “these contributions lacked basic information, that is, names and NIS numbers which would allow the beneficiaries to be credited with these contributions.”
“What that meant was that there was little that the scheme, on its own, internally, could do to correct those 1.1 million records,” the HPS said. To address this issue, Luncheon says Cabinet mandated the scheme to execute a “campaign with a public component” which is aimed at “identifying those contributors who may have been deficient in the submission of contribution records.”
If this initiative is successful, Luncheon stated, contributors will be able to receive their benefits.
Other areas to be improved, Luncheon said, is the collection of debt owed to the Scheme and the provision of benefits to those who have been denied such.