Stuart: NIS funds are safe
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is assuring Barbadians that funds in the National Insurance Scheme are safe following reports that money to pay benefits to the country’s unemployed could run out in about two years time.
“So far as the National Insurance Fund is concerned, no need to worry at all,” he told reporters while touring BMEX at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo disclosed last week that Government borrowing from NIS is way past target.
However, when questioned by journalists the prime minister said, “There has never been a time in the history of the Unemployment Benefit Fund in Barbados when it was not under challenge, because as I said, unemployment has been a serious endemic problem to Barbados. Our severance fund is healthy. The National Insurance department administers a number of funds and those funds are all in a state of robust health.”
“To segment or to segregate the unemployment fund, highlight that and to give the impression that all is danger, all is sadness and loss at the department of National Insurance is a monstrous perversion of commonsense. It is also a monstrous perversion of the truth.”
Placing the issues faced by social security fund in a regional historical context, Stuart said,”Employment has always been an issue here in the Caribbean. One of the features about Caribbean history after about 450 years to 500 years, is that we’ve only had full employment in the Caribbean during the days of slavery.
“We’ve always been trying to create an environment where our economies could have the absorptive capacity to provide employment for the wide range of young, and not so young people who want work.”
For this reason, he said, “the unemployment fund has always been the most challenged of our funds because unemployment, in these islands in the Caribbean, Barbados included, has always been a challenge”.