APP calls for clarity on NIS changes

Alliance Party for Progress spokesman on economic matters, Patrick Tannis, is calling for greater clarity on exactly what is happening with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

Speaking at the party’s headquarters in West Terrace, St Michael, on Saturday, he said: “The NIS funds are what we all have to rely on as civil Barbadians, so when you start and tamper with the NIS, it obviously will draw some response from us.

“[The NIS] is shepherded by acts of Parliament . . . which would be made visible to the people of Barbados. But in this new structure, there will no guarantees the public will know its dealings, so you can’t know if there will be politicisation.

“The NIS is not a commercial bank, it is not there to be the football of any political party so if there is to be any changes to the use of those lifeline funds, the people of Barbados need to have a full, expository, knowledge-based sharing process that is instructive to what the intentions are to be with those funds.”

Tannis said they were not attacking any individual but were instead questioning policy.

He said SOEs (state owned enterprises) were said to be non-performing and a lot of investments were to be made to make them more efficient, so he queried why then would the NIS be transformed into one of them.

“If the NIS is changing its behaviour, will we be seeing the emergence of a regulator of some kind? Will Government be able to put its hands in the NIS more easily? How will it recapitalise? We are calling for an independent regulator for the NIS if it is to be restructured.

“Risk management disappears because it will be under a board and Government can appoint anyone. If the statutory corporation regime has been determined to be faulty, if you turn the NIS into one, are you not then putting it to fail?” he asked.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the NIS would transition to an independent state-owned enterprise by year-end. The initial intention was stated in March last year and reiterated during last week’s Financial and Economic Statement in the House of Assembly. (CA)

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