May 3, 2021 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
The Minister Of Labour & Social Security Hon. Karl Samuda has disclosed that due to risky investment decisions, the National Insurance Fund (NIF) has chalked up losses in the region of $1.5 billion dollars in a hotel in Braco, Trelawny, and another hotel property.
NIF has been showing improvement in terms of collection in the area of investment income.
The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is designed to provide citizens age 55-65 on retirement, with a pension. It also has a death benefit grant. This death benefit grant has to be claimed, as is the practice with most, if not all pensions internationally. In Canada and elsewhere it is likely called old age pension or retirement benefit or some other similar name like old age security.
If a potential pensioner becomes disabled and is medically unable to work then an early pension can be applied for. This claim, of course would have to be certified by a doctor and the necessary paper work done to apply for this benefit. I think there is no age requirement for this benefit. Just the application of the established rules of the National Insurance Scheme for this benefit.
National Insurance Fund (NIF)
The NIF is the investment arm of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Money accumulated in the NIS, which amounts to billions of dollars are supposed to be invested in safe investment instruments to get the best return on these funds and then ploughed back into the NIS to provide benefits to pensioners for life.
Actuaries reported that the NIS based on their expert forecast, ran the danger of running out of money. So a recommendation for an increase in the eligible age of retirement was adjusted upward and also an increase in premiums deducted from employees were adopted and done. This corrected the problem. The NIF has adequate amount of funds for now.
The board of the NIF made some risky investment decisions and billions in losses occurred. They decided to bail out at least two hotel properties. This proved to be a failure. The Minister Hon. Carl Samuda, in his Sectorial Debate reported on this in parliament last Tuesday, April 28, 2021.
We elect Government to be custodians of our resources and as such expect the highest level of probity, professionalism and accountability. Least to mention fiduciary responsibility as it relates to the management of our affairs, especially investment decisions. The disclosure that we chalked up heavy losses raises suspicion, is surprising, shameful, sleazy, and scandalous, to say the least.
This is a serious dereliction of duty.
The dreams of seniors citizens who are depending on the NIS in their sunset years, has been betrayed. This betrayal is cause for much concern.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, veteran journalist who has a keen interest in probity & decency in public life.