Chairman of the board of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Ian Gooding-Edghill is giving the assurance that the various funds of the scheme are “safe” and will continue to meet the high demands.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that about a third of the workforce was unemployed, with some 42 000 jobless benefit claims being submitted to the Unemployment Fund.
Gooding-Edghill said over $55 million has been paid out in benefits so far. However, it is anticipated that several severance claims could be submitted in another two months if some people are not reemployed.
Government had launched a one-time business cessation benefit for self-employed individuals valued at $1 500 each for the months of April and May, which officials had indicated would cost the NIS about $8.5 million.
Despite all this, Edghill said he was satisfied the various funds remained healthy, adding that over the years the NIS had “built up a very strong fund”.
“It has even been stronger in the sense that since the Barbados Labour Party came to office as a government, they have paid their contributions in cash and not via paper, and that is a tremendous departure from what we have before. The fund is safe, and . . . in respect of the Unemployment Fund, if there is any shortfall, the Government has already gone on record that they will replenish the Unemployment Fund,” he said.
Pointing out that there were several funds within the scheme, Edghill said the National Insurance Fund alone had over $4 billion in investments.
“So, there is no need to worry. We have paid out in excess of $55 million and we are continuing to pay unemployment benefits. We have also commenced the advanced payment on national insurance as well for those and we are satisfied with the progress,” he said.
The NIS chairman said he would soon be announcing additional initiatives to be undertaken by the National Insurance Board “in executing more efficient delivery of services with respect to the operations and how we interface with the public”.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley had promised that if needed, the NIS would be assisted “whether by existing funds being held at the Central Bank from loans we have received or purchasing the bonds that the NIS holds to the tune of $250 million”.
She had also indicated Government was considering introducing a Pandemic Solidarity Bond for the NIS in the future. [email protected]
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