THE National Insurance Scheme (NIS), over the next three days, will be hosting a special outreach at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF)’s Base Camp Ayanganna to address a range of issues affecting army veterans.
The outreach follows President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s recent engagement with the Guyana Veterans’ Legion (GVL), where he committed to addressing pending issues faced by GDF veterans.
Among the issues addressed on Monday is that of persons who have exceeded the age of retirement, and have been waiting for years to access their pension because of incomplete or inaccurate records.
There were also persons with NIS contribution statements that reflect missing contributions, as well as persons who did not have adequate constitutions to receive pensions.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance Dr. Ashni Singh said that having examined each of the cases, immediate actions were taken to have most of the matters resolved within a timely manner.
Those persons who have been waiting years to access their contributions will do so before the end of December, Dr Singh announced.
“Persons who are waiting for three, four, five years for their pension should be able to access their pension within a matter of weeks, and I have, in fact, asked the [NIS] general manager to ensure that they access their pension before Christmas,” he stated.
In those complicated cases where the issues do not relate to employment with the army, but with other private companies, Minister Singh said that the NIS will attempt to verify those periods of employment.
“Some of those companies are still in existence; some are not. Some of those companies may not have been paying over NIS deductions, and in some cases, it would be very difficult and challenging to verify those periods of employment with employers, for example, who are no longer in existence or whose records are incomplete, or who we know are in default,” he explained.
The finance minister added: “Even in those cases, we are not turning people away; we will try our best to unravel, to get to the heart of those matters, and try our best to resolve those matters. But those will take longer to resolve.”
There was also one case of a pensioner who acknowledged that he did not have enough contributions to access a monthly pension, but is eligible to benefit from an NIS grant.
Minister Singh said the pensioner was able to apply for that grant, and will be receiving it within a matter of days.
Dr. Singh also used the opportunity to assure the veterans that the Irfaan Ali-led Government values immensely the distinct and dedicated service that they gave to Guyana, and want to ensure that they enjoy a dignified retirement.
The Department of Public Information (DPI) also spoke to a number of the veterans who thanked President Ali for the swift action in ensuring their NIS woes are addressed.
Elroy Blades, a pensioner said that over the past four years he has been engaging the NIS to receive his pension. He is relieved that we will finally benefit from his pension after many years of service to the country.
“I feel very happy that the service has come to me…I am happy that I could have talked to the minister and the general manager and I think I will receive my pension by December,” he said.
Former Army Corporal, June Johnson, who accompanied a fellow veteran to resolve her issue, commended the initiative which allows for a hassle-free space to resolve pending NIS issues.
“It is less running around and fatigue for these pensioners…it is good for them,” she said.
The government, since its assumption to office, has been working aggressively to resolve the over 10,000 backlogs of pension issues. (DPI)