Good Afternoon, and congratulations to the management and staff of the National Insurance Scheme on the 46th Anniversary of the National Insurance Scheme.
The National Insurance Scheme came into being as part of the NATIONAL INSURANCE AND SOCIAL SECURITY ACT of 1969 I would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us that at the heart of this scheme is a SYSTEM OF SOCIAL SECURITY. What is SOCIAL SECURITY as per this act? It was and is a system of providing MONETARY payments to contributors for old age, invalidity, survivors, sickness, maternity and funeral benefits. At yesterday Monthly Board Meeting we were all given a copy of book entitled "THE NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME IN GUYANA" its conception, development and future. This was written by someone who is well known to the NIS. That is Mr. Patrick Martinborough. I would urge all of us to read it.
Mr. Martinborough notes that in September 1969 when the Scheme was established there were only two national schemes in the Caribbean, In Jamaica and Barbados. However the Guyana Scheme was the FIRST of its kind relative to its level of supervision and control since the others were mere departments of governments whilst our scheme was the FIRST to be controlled by an independent BOARD.
Our scheme earned the status of a training center and was used by the ILO for that purpose. This is just part of the history of the NIS, and once again I urge all of us to read Mr. Martinborough book As we all know the scheme has two arms - CONTRIBUTIONS and BENEFITS. It is actually a relatively simple business model.
However as early as 1982 the Number of Contributors to the scheme began to decline and as early as 1989 a deficiency in the contribution records was noted. Let me mention those years again, in 1982 the number of contributors began to decline, and in 1989 the contribution records were noted to be deficient.
Today some 30 years later the WE are still having the same problems with the NIS. In Nov 2007 the NIS commissioned the National Insurance Scheme Reform Project. That Final Report had over 50 Recommendations. In Dec 2012 the Statutory 8th ACTURARIAL REVIEW of the NIS fund was submitted.
The First LINE in the Executive Summary reads and I quote" The National Insurance Scheme is nearing CRISIS STAGE" " The Fund will be exhausted in less than 10 years if reforms are not made IMMEDIATELY" That Report had 28 Recommendations.
The New Board of the NIS had been functioning for a mere two months, but I bring to you the assurance of the NEW BOARD the NIS is NOT and WILL NOT be allowed to fail. The NIS is too important to Guyana and to all Guyanese to be allowed to FAIL.
The Board fells categorically that once the necessary reforms are made and compliance with the Laws of Guyana as it relates to the NIS are adhered to; there is no reason why the NIS would not return to a state of FINANCIAL STABILITY.
It would be remiss of me to not mention the Investments made by the previous Boards in the Berbice Bridge and CLICO. Please be assured that the Current Board is aggressively reviewing these investments to ensure that the NIS receives the appropriate return on its investments.
Now let's come closer to home, we are here at the Brickdam office and a short distance from here is the Camp street office. Around the country we have a number of Local Offices. It would be fair to say that the public, the contributors who are essentially our clients are disappointed in the service we provide. We have to accept that we need to do a better job.
At the last Board Meeting we asked management to ensure that all staff are to improve the manner in which we deal with our clients and to understand that in dealing with our clients we need to respect them and we need to follow what the National Insurance and Social Security Act and it regulations saw.
Finally let me speak to the dedication of the NIS employees. At the very first meeting of the New Board one of the Directors mentioned that employees of the NIS are some of the most loyal in the country.
Today we will be presenting awards for 20, 30 and even 40 years of service. That level of dedication and commitment must be commended.
The Board has accepted that the conditions under which the NIS employees are working in below acceptable standards and as we sit with Management and prepare the 2016 Budget we will strive to begin the process of improving the conditions under which you work. Please note I am saying that we will begin the process, it will take time but we are committed to starting the journey towards improving your working conditions.
So on behalf of the Board on the NIS let me again that each and every one of you for your continued dedication and commitment to the NIS and to extend our congratulations to you on the 46th Anniversary of the NIS and to assure you that collectively we the board along with Management and you will ensure that the NIS is returned to Financial Viability.
Dr. Surendra Persaud.
National Insurance Board.