THE National Insurance Scheme (NIS) yesterday commissioned a spanking new $37M multi-purpose complex at Carifesta Avenue, here in the city, with Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh expressing Government’s commitment to the long-term viability and success of the scheme.“I wish to say unequivocally, the Government to which I am privileged to be a part of, your Government, is firmly and unwaveringly committed to the long-term viability and success of the National Insurance Scheme. I wish to say that very emphatically.
“I want that to be crystal clear… we will do all that it takes to ensure that the National Insurance Scheme rides through whatever challenges it might be facing, traverses them and emerges from them as an even stronger institution. We will take all the decisions that should be taken to ensure that this is done,” he told a gathering of NIS staff at the commissioning of the facility.
Minister Singh pointed out that the scheme in its 45 years of existence has matured, experienced significant growth and faced many challenges, but it continues to weather the storm, serving the people of Guyana.
Dr Singh said the task of ensuring a stronger NIS is not only the work of Government, noting that those who benefit and are expected to benefit have a key role to play.
On that note, he commended employers who remit deductions of their employees to the scheme, and urged those delinquent ones to change their bad habit.
The Minister explained that delinquents do not only break the law, but they deny their employees valuable contributions in the event they are met with an unfortunate incident.
NIS General Manager Doreen Nelson thanked Dr Singh and NIS Chairman, Dr Roger Luncheon for enabling the realisation of the project, telling the gathering on the lawns of the facility that the completion of the complex was eagerly awaited.
“Six hundred and ten members of staff of the National Insurance Scheme have eagerly and even impatiently awaited this day when the reconstruction of the National Insurance Scheme’s Sports Complex building would be declared completed and ready for use.”
She said the building is of key importance, pointing out that even though staff members work in locations spread across the country, they have always looked forward to activities that would bring them closer together.
“I am sure that they are also eager to return here for continued serious deliberations and decision-making on organisational matters. I express sincere gratitude to the management and staff for their patience and understanding as we shuffled them from one location to another for training programmes.”
The building, formerly named the Guyana National Trading Corporation Sports Complex, was renamed the Patrick Martinborough Multi-Purpose Complex, in honour of former NIS General Manager Patrick Martinborough, who served the scheme for 35 years. Nineteen of those years, he served in the capacity of General Manager.
On July 30, 2011, sections of the former Guyana National Trading Corporation Sport Complex, bought and renamed by NIS over 20 years before, collapsed.
The building was used for sporting and cultural activities as well as for training purposes and board meetings. Its loss greatly inconvenienced many, adding to the administrative costs since other venues had to be rented.
In the compound of the new building, the driveway and parking area have been resurfaced. There is also a new bridge, gate and a signboard.
President of the Patrick Martinborough Multi-Purpose Complex, Daniel Thomas praised NIS’ senior management for approving and building the facility, pointing out that aside from board meetings and conferences, it will help to change the perception of “sport”.
The word, he said, is often associated with alcohol, but the facility will also be home to games like dominoes, scrabble and other socially mild activities.
In the scheme of benefits, Guyana compared to other countries globally, is a bit unique, in that a person can benefit from three pensions.
These are: pension from an employer if the organisation has a pension scheme; Retirement Pension, which is paid primarily to employees who attain age 55; and Old Age Pension, a compulsory benefit paid to anyone who reaches age 65.
NIS was established in September 1969 as one of the precursor institutions for political Independence from Great Britain.
The packages paid by the scheme are sickness, maternity, invalidity, old age, survivor’s and funeral benefits.
For the purposes of paying the above benefits, contributions were payable by employers and employees at the rate of 7.5 per cent of insurable wages against five groups or bands of wages into which the wages of an insured person fall.
The scheme is actuarially assessed on a five-year basis. The growth or expansion of the National Insurance Scheme depends on the findings of the actuary at the end of each period of assessment. Actuarial findings are mostly derived from the records and statistics that are made available for this purpose.
By Tajeram Mohabir