Close to 200 retired civil servants who stopped receiving invalidity benefits, some dating back 15 months, are to start getting their cheques again from this month, ministers have ordered.
Last Friday, the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington in a letter to the Accountant General detailed the instructions of the Cabinet on the approach that should be taken on a matter that has generated considerable debate and criticism, particularly since June.
A memo from the head of finance and planning to the Government’s paymaster said: “As you are aware, there have been numerous complaints over the past few months regarding the abatement of pensions of those officers who are medically boarded.
“Following discussions with the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investments, it was decided that as the Invalidity Pensions relate to a particularly vulnerable section of the population, it would be necessary to put a revised policy in place.
“However, until that policy has been finalized, the Cabinet has agreed that those officers who are receiving Invalidity Pensions and whose pensions were abated by the Treasury should have their pensions reinstated with effect from September 2019.
“This, therefore, serves to instruct you to reinstate the pensions to those persons receiving Invalidity Pension, whose pensions were abated between June 2018 and August 2019, with effect from the September 2019 pension day.”
Carrington confirmed this afternoon that earlier today he made a follow-up check with the Accountant General and was assured that the process of reinstatement had started to have all 190 people who had been affected back on to the rolls in time for September’s pension payments.
The decision is to cost the Treasury more than $177,000 per month. The overpayment anomaly that triggered the recent stop order cost a total of $13.8 million to taxpayers over the past ten years.
In late July, Prime Minister Mottley intervened in the matter after considerable public criticism of how it had been handled, pointing out that while there may have been legal justification for the abatement, a solution had to be based more on humanitarian grounds than acting as bureaucratic slaves to the letter of the law.
The Prime Minister’s Office is to continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth reinstatement pending the publication of a new policy, Barbados TODAY was told.