Money in safe hands
Responding to concerns raised by Christ Church West MP, Dr. Maria Agard, who advised Government to be careful how it spent these finances, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, said her concerns were unfounded.
The Christ Church East Central, who spoke during the Estimates Debate yesterday in the House of Assembly, said NIS monies, including in Government investment instruments, were well managed and spent.
“In the instance of Barbados the investments held by the National Insurance Scheme in Government paper pays them significantly well, pays them in great abundance. In fact, if it were possible that the Government had other sources available … one would say don’t take National Insurance money,” he said.
“So let’s get off this bandwagon as though somebody is trying to deprive future pensioners of their pension rights. That is not the case for the Democratic Labour Party and I would argue is not the case of the previous Barbados Labour Party government either. It is prudently using existing resources. Why should the people of Barbados allow the National Insurance planners and policymakers to take up their money and go and invest it in somebody else’s land? First onto yourself be true, that has to be the philosophy. Utilise those resources, which exist within your own space to maximise the development potential of your people and of your country.”
Jones deemed it “a bit unfortunate” for Barbados Labour Party representative Agard to “seek to bite into soft flesh”.
“It is not necessary. We have to be careful yes how it is used, what it is invested in etcetera. A diversified portfolio for the National Insurance funds is what is necessary and is what is needed, some in government paper, some in real estate, some in shares, equity financing, a diversified portfolio,” he stated.
“So let us stop it; at 2013 we have to take an approach which seeks to speak deeply to the non partisan development agenda for Barbados. This is what we have to speak to, and I believe that’s why all of us were called to the service of the people of Barbados.
“Yes we fight because we want to govern, and there is nothing wrong with having that verbal contestation, in seeking to be the governors of the state, … but we need to move beyond this…”
The minister said the NIS was “an extremely viable, well run, well managed and protected National Insurance Scheme, regardless of who might mouth off”.
“During the reign of the Barbados Labour Party 37 per cent of NIS investment portfolio was invested in treasury bills, treasury notes, more long term instruments, debentures, etcetera. Up to 2011 it inched up to around 43 per cent, so on average there is no major shift in utilisation of the resources of the National Insurance Scheme to support the very people from whom those monies come,” he noted.
“It isn’t that you go out see a tamarind tree and you pick the leaves off the tamarind tree. It is out of the coffers of workers and employers that those funds come initially and then invested to maximise its greatest use and its greatest potential.” (SC)