Struggle to collect NIS arrears
And while the Senate debated and passed legislation allowing proceedings for the “summary recovery” of these funds to be initiated over six years, not three years as currently stands, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo thinks the department will still struggle to recoup all of what is owed.
Byer-Suckoo spoke this morning as the Upper House approved the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment) Act.
The minister quoted figures showing the department recovered $1.7 million in May/June this year, but did not give information for any other period.
“There is a large amount of arrears, some of it going back many, many years, in fact some of it we don’t expect that we will see anytime soon. There will be a publication of a list of those persons and organisations who owe sums of money to the National Insurance Department, but the efforts continue,” she said.
“Indeed every month there is a report to the board as to how much monies they have recovered. I can say, for example that the period mid-May to mid-June they actually recovered arrears of almost $1.7 million. Of that $1.6 million was contributions and the balance was interest and that was this year. For the same period last year they would have recovered $1 million, of which $900, 000 was contributions and then the balance was interest.
“So they are working hard to collect the outstanding monies, but given the staff constraints it is not possible to investigate and reach all the delinquent employers and self employed persons in the three year period. And so they have indicated that while our act does say three years they realise that they cannot operate in the three years, they want to be able to do it in the six years as they have been operating before under the Limitation of Actions Act,” she noted.
The official said the organisation responsible for the National Insurance Scheme continued to have challenges “in terms of the number of staff to carry out the functions”.
“We want to be able to do what we can to get this monies brought in. It probably wont be possible even in six years to get all those persons who delinquent anyhow, but we believe that this would allow the staff to be able to bring that action in accordance with the law,” she stated in reference to the legislative amendment. (SC)