PSV body urges workers to make NIS contributions; up to 75 per cent of them not paying anything

Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael is urging public service vehicle (PSV) operators to pay their National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions as he expressed concern that between a half and three-quarters of those workers currently pay nothing.

He made the call amid public debate on proposed changes to the NIS Fund to increase the pensionable age to 67 ½ years in 2028, and to 68 years in 2034, and the number of contributions to be eligible for pension from 500 to 750.

“Our concern generally, is that there are a number of persons who are not paying National Insurance…. A number of operators, particularly conductors, some of them between the age of 18 and 38. . . do not pay National Insurance because of how they work,” Raphael told Barbados TODAY.

“We have over 300 persons in the system [and] between 50 and 75 per cent of persons do not pay National Insurance. It’s very alarming to us as an association. We want to make that special appeal to them to pay National Insurance.

“What we want to do is to encourage our owners to pay National Insurance for those operators out there because . . . if [these workers] take all of their money and spend it while they are young, when they get older it means that they will be a burden on the state,” he added, noting that many PSV employees work well into their 60s.

Raphael highlighted that during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, the AOPT had to prepare several care packages for operators who were unable to work.

He expressed the hope that the NIS would reach out to the sector to offer targeted educational sessions to encourage workers to make NIS contributions.

The AOPT boss added: “[Workers] don’t really see a need now to pay national insurance. What we were suggesting is that . . . before you renew your permits, [you should be asked] to produce [a] National Insurance certificate to prove you have good standing. I think that would help.”

The AOPT’s Director of Public Communications and Public Affairs Mark Haynes added that workers and owners of PSVs owed it to themselves to ensure they had a safety net in the event of hardships.

“No one knows what the future holds, and it [NIS] would act as a buffer to mitigate against misfortunes that come their way financially. I think going forward, they should look at this seriously. Each week each employee works, they should put down and pay something into the Fund. This is something that should be encouraged,” he said.

shamarblunt@barbadostoday.bb

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