That is how the head of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) has described the announcement by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) that the disbursement of tens of thousands of benefit cheques are now on hold.
The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) said today that the delivery of all benefits, including pensions, would be delayed due to a hardware malfunction which has severely affected its computer network.
“The NIS technical team has been working consistently to rectify the matter, but it is anticipated that it will take about three weeks to correct the problem and restore the network to its full capacity,” the NIS said in a statement.
This means that pensioners who should have received their cheques by now, will be forced to forego them for close to another month.
The situation has not gone down well with executive members of BARP.
“It will be devastating to its members and I really hope the NIS finds an alternative for paying pensioners,” president Ed Bushell told Barbados TODAY this evening.
Another senior official expressed similar sentiments, indicating that some assistance would have to be provided for elderly persons who need these payments to get by.
“For most pensioners, both weekly and monthly, it’s their only source of income and it will be difficult for them to be able to buy anything. [And] to wait three weeks, that’s going to be hard,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“There are pensioners who live from pension cheque to pension cheque and they plan their lives on those cheques . . . Even though both monthly and weekly paid pensioners will be hard hit, it is going to be a bigger challenge for the weekly paid ones.
“The National Insurance will have to find a short-term solution . . . some advance or something to help these people. They have to devise a way,” he insisted.
The BARP executive said while some may be able to “hold on for a week”, it was unreasonable to expect pensioners to wait three weeks.
The association official noted that a significant number of its 42,000 members would be impacted.
The challenges at the NIS will also seriously inconvenience persons expecting benefits for sickness, maternity, unemployment, severance, employment injury, as well as funeral grants and invalidity grants.
“The National Insurance Office apologizes for the inconvenience caused,” the department said in its statement.
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