The wait will definitely be over by Friday for thousands of pensioners and other Government beneficieries who have been affected by a recent computer hardware malfunction at the National Insurance Department.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler gave this assurance today, while stating that Government was also working to settle outstanding income tax rebates.
Sinckler said he was not prepared to jump on the bandwagon of calls for heads to roll at the NIS over the late payment of benefit cheques, which have been delayed for close to two weeks.
In fact, he spoke up in defence of the agency, which falls under the leadership of Minister of Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo.
“These things happen, nobody wants them to happen, but if you have a mainframe [computer] system and it runs into problems and you switch to back up and it can’t handle the load completely, you have to investigate the issue and seek to have it repaired,” Sincker said, while noting “that sometimes these solutions are not immediately available on island”.
He added that with all good intentions, these things can take time “but you try to get them done as soon as possible because you don’t want people to be without their pensions”.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the Minister of Finance also attributed the delay in the payment of income tax returns to recent cash flow challenges.
He noted that while the process had started, it was proceeding slower this year than last year.
“Of course you know, income tax returns are done on revenue … it is a call on revenue and as you know the Government has had cash flow challenges, so it is a matter of working that through the system. But some people have gotten [theirs], and our commitment is to ensure that we get to all as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that payments which are made after a certain date would be subject to interest.
“Of course interest attaches. Government does have to pay interest just as it charges interest so you want to ensure that we don’t go too far beyond the cut off date for the payment period,” he added.
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