‘NIS hikes pension by 4%’
…increase to benefit persons receiving above-minimum rate
—GM Greaves says scheme working to improve collection of contributions, targeting O&G sector
ABOUT two months after announcing an increase in old-age pension, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) has said persons, who receive pensions above the “minimum pension,” will receive a four per cent increase.
This was according to General Manager of NIS, Holly Greaves, during a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Friday.
In January, NIS had announced that its old-age pension was moving from $32,100 to $35,000 because according to the law, the minimum pension must be 50 per cent of the minimum wage for public servants. Government had increased minimum wage to $70,000 from $64,200, in 2019.
While those persons who benefit from the “minimum pension” would have gotten an increase, persons who receive above that amount did not receive an increase since 2017. Greaves said the last increase was two per cent.
“This new four per cent increase will take effect from March 1, 2020…this new increase will cost the scheme $32M per month,” said the general manager.
In addition to paying out $32M a month to those above the minimum level, the minimum pension has been costing NIS $91M per month.
When asked if NIS would be able to sustain these payments, Greaves said: “in the short run we will be able to sustain it, but we are hopeful that the recommendations from the ninth actuarial report will be implemented so that it will help in the sustainability of the scheme.
“In addition to the recommendations of the report, we have been increasing efforts towards compliance…we have a desk management unit which is looking into people who owe the scheme and we are making an effort to collect those outstanding contributions.”
The NIS, which has a mandate of paying benefits and collecting of contributions, has been making consistent efforts to collect contributions. These efforts have even reached the oil and gas sector, said Greaves, adding that they have also been targeting the mining sector.
Considering the improved efforts and initiatives, the NIS has been able to see improvement in “contribution income.”
“We are still faced with problems where people are non-compliant and are taking contract jobs to not pay contributions, but we are working on that,” said Greaves.
Back in 2016, NIS had said that delinquent businesses and employers collectively had owed the scheme $1.3B.
During the presentation of the 2016 Budget, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, had told the National Assembly that the NIS had faced several challenges over the years, including lack of compliance by both employers and employees, combined with unprofitable investments. Jordan said then that the management of NIS will work diligently to ensure greater compliance through the enforcement of the laws.
“This year (2016), management will be targeting delinquent businesses and employers, in order to recover the $1.3B in arrears owed to the Scheme,” he declared.
In addition to increasing its revenue stream, Greaves said the scheme has been working on boosting its customer service aspect by opening its doors from 6:00hrs during “pension week” and even establishing help desks at various locations.
Persons can also reach the scheme on its website at https://www.nis.org.gy/, and leave a message in the “live chat.”