Step down

Byer-Suckoo faces heat over late NIS payments

A trade union leader is calling for the resignation of Social Security Minister Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo over the late payment of benefits, including pensions, to thousands of Barbadians by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

Speaking just days after Government minister Donville Inniss suggested the firing of the top management of the state-run entity, General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn said the situation should never have developed.

He argued there should have been a backup system, and insisted that as the minister with NIS oversight Byer-Suckoo must be held responsible.

General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn.
General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn.

“For once I agree with a Government minister that heads should roll. The National Insurance department is now a national scandal. It’s just that nobody is talking about it. They implemented a new computer system three years ago That system was budgeted to cost $9 million. They messed up so badly they had to keep fixing it and it has now reached to $60 million and they haven’t finished [making additions] yet . . . and they don’t have a backup because the old system they had, they shut it down as soon as they start up the new system,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.

The NIS, in a statement last week, attributed the situation to a computer hardware malfunction.

However, Franklyn contended that incompetence, rather than lack of funds, was responsible for the foul up.

“People should not have to go through this suffering and there’s not adverse consequences to the people responsible. Anywhere else in the world that runs under the Westminster system, the minister responsible would have tendered her resignation. But in Barbados we don’t do things like that. Somebody’s head should roll at the National Insurance level and at the ministerial level because the minister should have made sure that this didn’t occur,” he stressed.

The umbrella body for trade unions — the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB)– has also expressed deep displeasure with the situation.

President Cedric Murrell said he too was concerned about the lack of a backup system, and was hopeful the glitch would be rectified by the end of this week as indicated by the NIS.

“We have to get our public administration correct and, in this case, while systems fail we ought to have a more efficient backup that would have allowed our elderly people to have received some type of payment in the interim. One does hope that the promise that the problem would be fixed by this week and that cheques would be out would be out by Friday would be kept,” he said.

“With the increased cost of everything over the last four or five years or so, many of these individuals certainly would be really looking for that cheque and, therefore, we really have to do better than this in taking care of older people who have given their blood, sweat and tears to make this island what it is and for us to even have a National Insurance Scheme,” Murrell added.

Meantime, the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited, in a statement to Barbados TODAY, said it was making provisions to assist affected pensioners.

In a short statement on the matter, BL&P said it was “aware of the challenges that this delay with the issue of NIS pension cheques may have on the ability of some pensioners to pay their electricity bill on time.

“Any pensioner who has an electricity account with us that is affected by this delay and, as a result needs additional time to pay their electricity bill, may contact our Customer Service representative at 626-4300 to make appropriate arrangements for extending their payment period.”

The Social Security minister has declined to comment on the matter, instead pointing to a statement issued last week by the NIS board.          

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14 Responses to Step down

  1. Jason Cayenne
    Jason Cayenne October 7, 2014 at 1:08 am

    In my opinion they should all step down.

  2. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes October 7, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Well if them getting on bad over a delay in getting pension I wonder what gine happen when them keep borrowing from the NIS and

  3. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes October 7, 2014 at 1:15 am

    The NIS aint got no money to give them

  4. Bobby Brown
    Bobby Brown October 7, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Yes step down

  5. Frank Fowler
    Frank Fowler October 7, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Nothing will happen to her. She lost a seat she had won handsomely the first time, and yet the PM guaranteed her a good pension. A doctor no less. Shame

  6. jr smith October 7, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Government and IT systems always make , strange and bad bed fellows. I am not surprise of the failing computer system, not only in Barbados is that the case, but to hear they was no off site back up, just shows how micky mouse the set up is /was.
    I have personally work with one of the most extensive computer systems in the UK and if that had happen, the director and chief executive would have been sack.
    I am just adding to MR. Franklyn.

  7. Santini More
    Santini More October 7, 2014 at 6:16 am

    After her own constituents dumped her, the PM should never have so arrogantly placed her in a position of authority…Looks to me that her constituents got it right, she is incompetent and should go.

  8. Carolyn Robertson
    Carolyn Robertson October 7, 2014 at 6:27 am

    She should never had the Ministry in the first place the people of St George spoke and yet she was given a banner I think she should go

  9. Wayne Dread
    Wayne Dread October 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    I said it before and I ewould say it again if you lose your seat, you should be looking for a job…

  10. Wayne Dread
    Wayne Dread October 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    I said it before and I ewould say it again if you lose your seat, you should be looking for a job…

  11. Princess Tiny Neferua
    Princess Tiny Neferua October 7, 2014 at 7:18 am

    WOW……….Ain’t all you CRABS still in the same barrel………..

  12. Shirley Garnes
    Shirley Garnes October 7, 2014 at 7:24 am

    How disgraceful. The Barbadian government needs a complete overhaul. What’s next for this island.

  13. Asiba October 7, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Well somebody MUST resign -or maybe somebodies must resign.

  14. Rickie Nurse October 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

    When the head is bad, the whole body becomes bad eventually. A virus enters the body and it triggers a response to the brain. The Brain as the organizer/coordinator sends out anti-viruses to counter act the invasion of the external agents.

    The fact that they were numerous attempts to correct the malfunctioning system should have been brought under check after the first or second failure and not allow the sky-rocking of unfinished maintenance and cost to reach the level it has.

    The Minister may not be responsible for the direct daily management of the NIS, but as the person who has the final say on perceived operations there, the buck stops at her. Had she been forceful with the head of the NIS and the Director of IT, she would now be in a position where she would at lease have some support form the public.

    To say that the sacking of the Minister would be counter productive because she does not have direct management of the operation system there, is equivalent to being a spectator in a three ring circus. Had the Minister been the CEO of a major private corporation here or else where she would have been sacked long ago.

    A government has to operate along the same concepts of some private sector entities and demand results and not excuses. Yes! both the Minister, Director of IT and the General Manager at the NIS should receive green papers , it is gross negligence on their part and incompetence.


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