Baby call

NIS boss concerned about the Scheme’s future

Minister of Education Ronald Jones isn’t the only Government official worried about the island’s declining birth rate.

Addressing the 76th annual Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) delegates’ conference at the weekend, Director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Ian Carrington warned that Barbadians needed to have more children as a means of safeguarding the island’s social security scheme.

He explained that the island currently has an “aged” population and that the ratio of young workers to those of pensionable age had moved from seven to one when the Scheme was first started 50 years ago, to three to one in 2017.

“That is going to create problems,” he warned, explaining that “we have been very successful as a country in the area of family planning and it is demonstrated in the fact that the birth rate in 1967 was essentially something in the range of seven, [but] to date the birth rate is 1.65.

“All that says is that a female of child bearing age in Barbados today is expected to bear 1.65 children.

“The point is we are not as a country producing enough children to maintain the population and what is required to maintain the population is a birthrate of no less than 2.1 because there is always going to be some child that dies at childbirth,” the NIS boss warned.

According to the last census released by the Barbados Statistical Service in 2013, the island’s total population stood at 277,821.

And as far back as 2014, Jones has been sounding the warning that Barbadian women needed to have more children, to counter the problem of falling birth rates.

Last year, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett also joined the Jones chorus of concern, while announcing that by 2025, citizens over the age of 60 would make up 20.4 per cent of the island’s population.

While echoing these concerns, Carrington underscored the recent decline in the country’s labour force.

“I can tell you that based on my knowledge that the current workforce in Barbados is on average about 123,000 persons. In 2014 when our last actuarial report was done, and that was on the heels of retrenchment and so forth, that dipped to about 114,000 persons . . . . It means contribution income going to go down,” the NIS boss said.

He told union delegates, including former BWU General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman, now consultant to the current General Secretary Toni Moore, that NIS reserves currently stood at $5 billion, with the majority of funds having been invested. Carrington therefore suggested the fund was not in danger for at least another eight years, even if there were no streams of income coming in from contribution and investment income.

“Seventy-five per cent of this is invested in Government instruments. It is not ideal and I’m not going to get here and say that it is ideal. But I would want somebody to advise me where do I find the investment opportunities to invest this five billion dollars, along the ideal investment path when [it] is about 45 per cent of our GDP?

“The other options you have is to invest some of it aboard,” the NIS director said. However, he pointed out that this may not be possible given the current domestic problems with foreign exchange.

“If I say I want to invest a quarter of this [abroad], which is $1.25 billion, the Governor of the Central Bank will have to find this in foreign exchange for us to be able [to do so].

“Is that possible today? No,” Carrington stated.

The other alternatives which the NIS director said were available for investment were in the area of local investment, namely through Government instruments, real estate or by loaning commercial institutions money or equity.

However, he lamented that “when you look at the local stock exchange, there are not many options there for the NIS since with all the mergers and acquisitions, the options make for slim picking.

“At its height, the Barbados Stock [Exchange] had listed 24 public companies.  What you have seen over the last several years as it relates to the [exchange] has been these mergers and acquisitions and as soon as the companies, merge, they delist.

“Right now, you have 16 or 19 companies listed. We could buy all 19, but is social security in the business of running public companies? No. So, we have set a threshold of no more than ten per cent in any business because we don’t want to run your business,” Carrington told the gathering.

“We want to make an investment and get a return by way of dividend and capital appreciation for our investment. But we only have 16 companies listed on the stock exchange,” he stressed.

In terms of investments in real estate, he questioned: “When I go and I put a quarter of this $5 billion in real estate – brick and mortar – and I need cash and you don’t have a rental stream equivalent so that I could pay, am I going to take down some bricks and mortar and pay?”
ryangilkes@barbadostoday.bb

13 Responses to Baby call

  1. John Everatt September 5, 2017 at 12:24 am

    I would say that we have to solve other issues before calling for more babies. Yes, I understand the issues here however you can not just have more babies without parental support. This is why we have the youth crime situation that we have today. You have to solve that problem first.

    Reply
  2. Sheron Inniss September 5, 2017 at 12:46 am

    A child is a gift from the universe; not a money earner for the NIS. I suggest that yuh all get the babies and support them too. Steupse. Better yet give up the big salaries and pensions and start serving the Barbadian population as you are supposed to.

    Reply
  3. Richard Johnston September 5, 2017 at 1:48 am

    ‘aboard’ should be ‘abroad’ to make sense.

    Reply
  4. Richard Johnston September 5, 2017 at 1:51 am

    ‘loaning’ should be ‘lending’.

    Reply
  5. John mark September 5, 2017 at 6:48 am

    What incentives will we get to have these children
    1. Free health care for life (mother, father and child)
    2. Free primary, Secondary and tertiary education
    3. Free housing to raise them in
    4. Free food
    5. A maternity grant exceeding $5000.00

    Thats the only way many of us will be able yo contribute to this goal of increasing the population. As young people we can’t even feed and house ourselves. Should we now introduce these innocent beings into this equation.

    Reply
  6. Betty September 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I thought that Ian was a man with common sense. Working people are the ones who pays NIS. Getting babies wait 18 years to grow up then they cannot find work how is that going to help. They need to find jods for the young unemployed people now.

    Reply
  7. Thunder September 5, 2017 at 7:51 am

    It is so easy to say get more babies, if a lot of women’s husbands were politicians, we could close our eyes and bring 5 children into the world,but the reality is the majority of people are poor, and times are hard, and by the time our babies start to grow, their lives come to a sudden end because of gun violence.
    There is also another problem we have to look at, if men continue to be killed like this the ratio of men to women will be very small,and very soon,there will be no men to do certain jobs,and women will have to apply for these positions,it also means we must look at how we educate our girls,because no dad will be around,you will also have to look at raising salaries for women,because they will now be the bread winner in the home.
    Then 5 women will be fighting over 1 man just to conceive,so nip things in the bud while you can,and provide incentives,because we certainly won’t be bringing children in the world for them to suffer!

    Reply
  8. Milli Watt September 5, 2017 at 9:32 am

    ssstttuuupppssseeeeeeeee………………he could really retire and stop confusing de bloody place. he and Jones could go and have a child (ooooppssss did I just say that)

    Reply
  9. Tony Waterman September 5, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    @ALL!!! Other Countries are doing it (Increasing their Population) with selective (Economic) Immigration

    Reply
  10. Tony Waterman September 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    NIS Boss concerned about the Scheme’s future.

    Director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Ian Carrington warned that Barbadians needed to have more children as a means of safeguarding the island’s social security scheme.

    What Mr.Carrington and the Present Government of Barbados NEEDS to do, is to STOP making the NIS their PRIVATE PIGGY BANK, and go out and Collect the Billions owed to them by the ELITES/UNTOUCHABLES of Barbados.

    Don’t tell me that the NIS is unaware of all those Professionals that owe then these Billions of Dollars, of course Not, they rub shoulders with one another at every Cocktail Party.

    Reply
  11. Belfast September 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    So instead of living up to a previous election slogan of Jobs being Job # 1 on the priority cards, we are now opting for Babies as #1. Hopefully all of these babies will be born with an entrepreneurial spoon in their mouths…………..or will this make them Arch -Conservatives?

    Reply
  12. Coralita September 5, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Look, allow the non-nationals to come in and take up the space do and stop wasting you all breath. Last time I checked, Guyanese did not have a problem procreating.

    Reply
  13. Bajan boy September 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Get babies and when they reach age 18 they pump gas for 200 per week. Check the gas stations actoss the island and see. How will that he lp the NIS asgasin. Our people a re aslreadr only working for peauts. There are no quality jobs being held by our prople. Why don’t you get our middle mamagers better wa ge

    Reply

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