LABOUR and Social Security Minister Karl Samuda says that improvements in National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension benefits will be introduced next year.
Samuda, who was speaking in the annual sectoral debate at Gordon House on Tuesday, recalled that last year the House of Representatives passed amendments to the National Insurance Act which addressed increases in the contribution rates and insurable wage ceiling. However, he explained that these increases represented only one aspect of the reform of the scheme to address a rising demand from pensioners for an increase.
“This bold move signalled that the financial sustainability of the NIS, and the income security of the workers in this country, continue to be a priority. The reform measures recommended by the actuary and implemented since 2019 continue to yield increases in net contributions,” he said.
“I am pleased to report that, although there was a delay with the 2019 actuarial review, the review for 2019 has started and both 2019 and 2022 actuarial reports will be completed by early next year,” he said.
“I have taken keen note that the pensioners have been asking when will the NIS be providing an increase in their pensions. As the minister who has to ensure that the National Insurance Fund remains viable, I am mindful that all increases are made on the basis of sound information from experts in the field,” he explained.
“The NIS expended $20 billion to provide close to 121,000 pensions at the end of March 2021. Already, over 133,000 pensions are now being paid. It is very important to note that all recommendations concerning an increase in the rates of benefits paid are based on the recommendations of the actuarial review, which is a requirement of the National Insurance Act. This will be done next year,” he said.
Samuda also noted that eight per cent of pensions are dispatched to pensioners who reside overseas, which means that 92 per cent are paid locally. He said that, in keeping with the Government’s thrust for greater efficiency and modernisation, more than 82,000 or 67 per cent of local pensions were now paid through direct deposit, or directly into the bank accounts of pensioners.
— Balford Henry