Barbadian Opposition Leader rebukes current regime over state of NIS coffers

The BLP stands ready to do all that is necessary and legal to replenish the Unemployment Benefit Fund, which will have no money to pay benefits to former workers come the end of this month. Regrettably this Government has continued its habit of carrying institutions to crisis levels before acting.

In October and then again at the end of November last year, I warned the country that the Unemployment Benefit Fund of the National Insurance Board was in peril. The NIS was collecting $2.5 million on average monthly while paying out $5 million. As every Barbadian knows this is unsustainable and a recipe for disaster. The Government has known about this crisis for months and that this situation had to be resolved as a matter of urgency before 2015, especially if confidence is to be maintained in the NIS and our social security scheme.

In October and then again at the end of November last year, I warned the country that the Unemployment Benefit Fund of the National Insurance Board was in peril. The NIS was collecting $2.5 million on average monthly while paying out $5 million. As every Barbadian knows this is unsustainable and a recipe for disaster. The Government has known about this crisis for months and that this situation had to be resolved as a matter of urgency before 2015, especially if confidence is to be maintained in the NIS and our social security scheme.

In addition, the Government was aware for more than two years that its actions to extend the improved Unemployment Benefits for 22 months as well as the establishment of a $10 million training fund would have depleted the resources of the Fund and that it would have to be urgently replenished. This situation was compounded in 2013 once they announced that 3000 workers would be laid off, some of whom would be entitled to Unemployment Benefit.

In the circumstances, given the level of urgency and the capacity to pay these benefits only to the end of January, 2015, we expect that the necessary Supplementary and legal amendments must be brought to Parliament as the first order of business in 2015.

(IF YOU READ 27th NOV EDITION OF "Bds Today" AND THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR, THAT'S BECAUSE IT WAS MINE TO BEGIN WITH) We support the shift in the contribution rate of Employers to both the Severance Payments Fund and the Unemployment Benefit Fund so that there will be no additional burden to employers in respect of payroll costs, nor by extension further job losses. The costs of doing business in Barbados is simply too high.

(IF YOU READ 27th NOV EDITION OFBds TodayAND THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR, THAT’S BECAUSE IT WAS MINE TO BEGIN WITH) We support the shift in the contribution rate of Employers to both the Severance Payments Fund and the Unemployment Benefit Fund so that there will be no additional burden to employers in respect of payroll costs, nor by extension further job losses. The costs of doing business in Barbados is simply too high.

This matter affects the lives of thousands of Barbadians who are not in a position to protect themselves having lost their jobs. Regrettably this is another case of the utter incompetence of this Government and their callous indifference to the plight of the workers of Barbados. It cannot claim to have been taken by surprise that the Unemployment Benefit Fund is broke.

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