It is only right that the Ministry of Labour be represented on the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) board of directors because it is the ministry with responsibility for Barbados’ vital social security scheme.
This was the argument put forward tonight by Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo as she led debate in the Senate on the National Insurance and Social Security Bill 2017 .
Byer-Suckoo explained that prior to the NIS coming under the portfolio of the Ministry of Labour, it was led by the Ministry of Finance, which continues to be represented on the board by the permanent secretary, who sits on the NIS Investment Committee, in addition to the director of finance and the chief labour officer.
She argued that by having the permanent secretary as a director it would allow for greater oversight by her ministry.
The minister also rejected suggestions from Opposition Senator Dr Jerome Walcott that the amendment represented a power move by Government, insisting that “there is nothing shady” about the amendment, which was later approved by the Senate.
According to Byer-Suckoo, the NIS utilized the contributions of employers and workers and so its board of directors would naturally be comprised of two representatives of the employers who come from the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, as well as two representatives of the labour movement.
She said in addition to increasing the size of the NIS board, the amendment increased the number of directors needed for a quorum from four to five.