Pensioning Off Our Senior Citizens, The Most Idiotic Decision Of The Year

Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, Minister of Labour and Social Security

The U.S. Department of the Treasury will pay all federal benefit and non-tax payments electronically. Benefit recipients can choose to receive their payments by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account. You must make the switch from paper federal benefit checks to electronic payments by March 1, 2013. Learn more or sign up now.


The decision by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to retreat from distributing pensions to bank accounts only is the correct one. To inflict such hardship on our most senior of senior citizens reflects a level of uncouthness and inconsideration by those responsible. BU surmises that if Director of the NIS Ian Carrington recommended the change in policy, the Board headed by retired banker Tony Marshall – who reports to Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo – should have blocked the idiotic proposal. It has the smell of Tony Marshall, who possibly rammed it down Minister Suckoo’s throat. Whether it occurred as described or not, it demonstrates weak leadership on the part of the government and in particular Dr. Byer-Suckoo.

Did the NIS complete a benefit analysis which measured not only the financial impact but social as well? Barbados is a small island which is partly defined by its personable makeup. Would it not have made more sense to run a campaign to encourage pensioners with bank accounts who are receiving cheques to switch? Such an approach would have tested the appetite of the pensioners for making the change, sensitize pensioners to how NIS principals are thinking and intelligently inform the right decision. It is ironic that in the most impersonal of countries, the USA, the same same move is currently being processed but on a phased basis.

Why would a government about to enter general election mode try to rollout such a disruptive policy? Is our government so out of tune with the reality of the situation? Are they so driven by the economics of the decision that every other consideration becomes inconsequential? It challenges the perception that the DLP is more easily persuaded to implement more social programs compared to the BLP.

It is scary to contemplate that these are the people we are making decisions everyday which will impact our lives and those of our children now and the future.

0 thoughts on “Pensioning Off Our Senior Citizens, The Most Idiotic Decision Of The Year

  1. This silly proposal was just the latest in a string of stupid ideas coming from the NIS board and management. This one was supposed to save the NIS $50,000 in postal cost per year, but that does not makes sense since postage for Government is free.

    The idea that NIS was trying to effect a saving of $50,000 really made me laugh. When did NIS start worrying about saving money? They should have started before they spent 30 million dollars on a computer system that does not work. We need a commission of enquiry into the wastage of NIS funds.

    Additionally, if they wanted to save money they should have sent home the people who were illegally hired by the board, usually friends and family at salaries in excess of $50,000.

    Under the National Insurance and Social Security Act the employees of NIS are public officers. The board has no authority to hire staff: their job is to manage the NIS fund. Instead they find time to create “board post” as a means of getting their friends and family employed.

  2. This government seems not to care too much for the older folk, except on polling day when they are lifted from their beds to the polling booth. The Minister of Transport has a grand plan of making senior citizens undergo a driving test after 60 years of age,as if its the seniors who are responsible for the majority of accidents on our roads today.
    I am delighted when I see these so called giants who over the years ,inflict undue hardships on certain people ,become victims of their own making, when they are no longer in power.

  3. #Buggy

    Dont all parties tranport voters to the polling stations, both old and young?


    Isnt there a cost of providing postal service, even if there is no direct mailing cost to govt, and who would foot any shortfalll by the postal service?

  4. I would not be too harsh on Dr Sukoo-Byer because my understanding is that she found out about the new change the same time that the rest of Barbados heard it i.e. via the news. Apparently the board never sought to inform her.

  5. Obediant

    The NIS would only be required to pay for overtime if they did not meet the deadline to get the cheques in the Post Office for delivery by the ordinary schedule. The NIS would have to foot the bill to pay postal workers to deliver the cheques on Saturdays. This problem only came about after they purchased the super-inefficient $30 million dollar computer system. What is really remarkable, they brought in Venezuelan to supply the computer system, who lived like kings while they worked for other companies in Barbados and neglected NIS work.

    • @Watching

      ‘I would not be too harsh on Dr Sukoo-Byer because my understanding is that she found out about the new change the same time that the rest of Barbados heard it i.e. via the news. Apparently the board never sought to inform her.”

      If that is indeed the case then the Board needs to be fired.It is the only way she can redeem herself because rest assured it will be a platform issue, Sutherland must be liking his chops.

  6. @David

    Sutherland will not defeat Dr. Byer.


    uou did not answer my question. The delivery of mail is not free. Who pays the postmen, the people of barbados or the taxpayers. So to say that the delivery of mail is free is a misnomer.

    I am going to be the develi’s advocate, in which year the was computer system introduced and who was the Minister reponsible for nis Who approved the cost for the system and who appointed Mr. Carrinton as Director, even though he was an inexperienced person. Did your party not pushed all those persons with accounting qualifications into those top managment positions instead of grroming them properly, look at the amount of money owed to the vat dept, look at inland revenue and nis. have those entities been managed properly or in a nutshell, have you seen improvement in service delivery since those persons with those qualifications took over.

  7. IS the decision to introduce this pension by bank account not an example of the uncaring nature of individuals who operate on Government ‘s behalf wherever Public Servants treat with members of the Public who they are suppose to serve ? ? ? ?????
    WHAT is Tony Marshall’s part in all of this since he seems to be one who walks with his nose up his arse and seem to look down on people, never mind what he says ??????????

    WOULD the person going by the name -Just Asking for what -be informed that I Am flattered by you adopting and being influenced by my name ?????


    • @Just Asking

      Tony Marshall’s involvement shouldn’t matter if the Minister and Cabinet would have taken the right decision.

  8. Obediant

    I answered your question, just not he answer that you wanted. Postage to NIS should be free, and if it isn’t that is just another way for Government to stick their hands in the NIS fund.

    Do not play devil’s advocate: you asked some very relevant questions. The Owen Arthur Administration appointed a lot of idiots using the ruse of qualifications as cover to get them to the top of the public service. In fact the real qualifications for getting a lot of them promoted or appointed were friendship, lodge membership, familial ties, sex (both kinds – normal and anal) and party affiliation but not what you would have expected if the person were a DEM the promotion was used as a way of converting them. You would recall the politics of inclusion. The Arthur/Mottley combination proved disasterous for the public service and the country as a whole.

    Government created a lot of unnecessary post to find work for their friends which only slowed down the delivery of service to the public. NIS is a classic example of that.

    To answer your other question about who purchased the computer system. It was purchased when the former administration was in office. If memory serves me correctly, it was supposed to cost $12 million but they keep spending money trying to get it right and last I heard the figure stood at $30 million. More is to be spent since they have not gottten it right. If I had my way I would borrow a gun, take it outside and shoot it.

  9. I agree with “Obediant” when he mentions costs associated with the mailing of cheques to pensioners. The cost is not only related to “free” postage but there are associated costs of envelopes, time, paper stock for cheques etc. surely the aim is to be more efficient. Some Bajans like to have one foot in the 21st century and the other in the 18th century.

    I hate to mention this as sometimes comparisons are odious but in my neck of the woods many seniors were not in favour of direct deposit until the year the postmen went on strike. The strike opened a lot of eyes and the participation rate is close to 100 % today, so why are we not interested in efficient delivery of Gov’t services?

    “Silly Season” indeed.

    • @Sargeant

      In theory there is nothing wrong in your position but economic considerations can’t the driver of every decision we make.

      We are a small island and there is the cultural facia which defines who we are as a people.

      A personable society, unlike yours 🙂

  10. @David

    Hah! Hah! Is that “cultural facia” related to the postman delivering cheques to pensioners? Kinda reminds me of the day when my grandmother used to wait for the postman to deliver the British Money Orders from my kin.

    Anyway me mum is back there and the Brits deposit her pension direct to her bank account and she can use her debit card to withdraw funds and buy groceries etc.

    And about that “personable society” down there, I am laughing louder now, how come so many of the old folks are now in Senior citizens homes where they consider themselves lucky if their offspring visit them once a month?

    I could go on about “personable society” but I’ll hold my thoughts for now.

    • @Sargeant

      You are supporting the point made.

      Many of our old people take their checks to the village shop or minimart to be accepted as legal tender.

      Many of our old people ‘trust’ goods still from the village shops and settle when the checks are delivered.

      The fact that many old people are being placed in homes still does not compare with those who are home fighting alone or with family.

      It is this reason that we need to take decisions which gives the old people a chance.

  11. David

    I’ll take your word that “old people” still “trust goods” but I will be politically correct and refer to them as Senior citizens from now on, but have you ever heard of a policy that’s enacted which everyone is in favour of? There are always naysayers and sometimes the naysayers voices are the loudest but we should be looking at the greater good and the long term benefits. When is the optimum time to enact a mandatory direct deposit system for pension cheques? Shouldn’t we start sometime? A two grid system where some opt in and some remain outside just perpetuates the waste and increase the costs.

    If you apply the pros and cons of direct deposit versus the mailing of cheques the “pros” of direct deposit win hands down, sure some people will be hard done by but for every one who “trusts” from a local shop there are probably two or more who are victims of elder abuse and some relative/friend waiting to get their hands on the cheque and give the Senior a pittance.

    Seniors get to the grocery stores, they get to the doctor, they get to church, they get to the Health clinics but getting to the Bank is difficult.

  12. I believe a caller to Brasstacks indicated that some people were changing the two monthly NIS pension cheques, in advance of the value dates, for a fee of $30 per cheque. This is no different to a payday loan at a ridiculous rate. If a cheque is $1,000 and you pay $30 to cash it one month in advance, you are paying about 3% interest per month, which is an annual rate of 36%. If a cheque is less than $1,000 and the money is provided less than a month in advance of the value date, pensioners that make use of this arrangement may actually be paying much more than a 36% annual rate.

  13. Is the DLP in serious hot water in using taxpayers money to support a private company such as CLICO?

    Excerpt from trinidadexpress:

    THE sale of CLICO Energy to Barbados firm Proman Holdings was above board, attorney Christopher Hamel-Smith said yesterday.

    He made the statement during his cross-examination of former group financial director of CL Financial Michael Carballo yesterday.

    CLICO Energy was sold for US$40 million while it was valued at US$200 million, Carballo said.

    /closed excerpt

    Am i missing something here? Perhaps, US$160 million? Can taxpayers afford to support this company not knowing the facts?

    Who has been arrested for this wanton neglect to investors? Will governments who now seek to stop the holes in this company with tax dollars survive, as the shit continues to hit the fan?

  14. At $60 per pensioner per month, 20 pensioners will provide such an “entrepreneur” with a monthly income of $1,200 on a capital base of $40,000 ($1,000 x 2 x 20) or less. $40,000 at the bank will return interest of about $85 per month.

  15. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain and results in disorientation, with impaired memory, thinking, and judgement. It is said that people with Alzheimers also undergo changes in their behavior. So that would explain it!

    It is also said that this combination of symptoms is also called dementia.” The “Austin Diagnostic Clinic” website – asked the following question and gave the answer: ‘Does having diabetes put you at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease?’ The answer: ‘Several research studies over the past decade are showing a link between the two diseases. For some scientists the link is so strong that they believe Alzheimer’s may actually be a type of diabetes.’

    If Barbados had a Prime Minister that fits this profile that would indeed, be a horrible thing? What if he were to forget and put one million dollars in his personal Bank Account? What if – while serving as Minister of Finance – he were to give a Trinidadian contractor, say – twenty-five million (one time) to build a building – not remembering that payments can only be made in law, based on scope of work or actual work completed? What if he were to forget that the biggest con-artists in the world are said to be from Nigeria and he were to pay a company there $2.4 million to enter a joint-venture to manufacture solar water heaters? What if he were to meet with the principals of a company, at say – the Pegasus hotel in Guyana and did not remember that such is unethical, especially if that company is seeking a contact under his Ministry?

    It was made public in 2007, that Owen Arthur did not remember that he put over $75,000 intended for the BLP as campaign financing, into his personal bank account. But everyone is entitles to make a mistake. It is the frequency of those mistakes that should cause people to take serious notice. It may only be a coincidence but local newspapers reported last year following the BLP’s Annual Conference, that Owen Arthur told those gathered that the BLP and the country need Mia Mottley and yet, the same party, which he leads, recently altered its Standing Orders to keep her from obtaining the office of Party Chairman, yet not a word from him.

    Owen Arthur could not remember during the recent budget debate, that he actually chaired the meetings of Cabinet on the very days that the matter of VECO was discussed. He said he wished he was there. But when told by both Minister Sinckler and the Prime Minister – ‘no Owen, you were there,’ he then said that he said something else. When pressed again, he again said something completely different and also said that he never said what he said on the two previous occasions the entire country heard him say it.

    He now thinks that there can be no Barbados without him and that only he can lead Barbados and the BLP. Owen Arthur does not realise that if Christopher Sinckler is already the Minister of Finance – in what is the second worst recession ever – that Sinckler (at the next general election) will have more experience than him, dealing with a situation he (Owen) has never deal with.

    The world has change and will continue to change but Owen Arthur does not know or remember that. Owen Arthur curse Mara Thompson but he does not remember that. He called a media conference to cuss Mia Mottley but he did not remember that Parliament was being held that very morning. For close to three years he forgot that he had to go to Parliament on Tuesdays. He said there is a clamour for him but voted for himself. He told the country that VECO was bad for Barbados but signed a “Letter of Comfort” for them to build the same prison he told the country he never had anything to do with. If he wanted nothing to do with VECO, then why did he give it a multi-million dollar contract to build an oil storage facility?

    I do not know if Owen Arthur still drinks heavy; cuss and threatens people! What I do know is that Owen Arthur forgot to pay for the building at Warrens and that mistake will now cost the country close to $90 million. I am not a doctor but the dictionary states that “dementia” is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning, such as concentration, memory, and judgment, which affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.” Maybe that is why he needs Mascoll to do the work for him and Doctor Jerome Walcott to prescribe the medication. I am just wondering if the problems only occur when he does not take his medication?

  16. CAN somebody convince me that Marshall aint had something to do with this fiasco ??
    DOES past experience in Banking means that a person is good at advising on Banking matters or not ??
    EVEN if you are a minister, wouldn’t it be the thing to ask for advice from the -so-called experts ???
    HAS anyone never seen nor heard Marshall and come to the conclusion that Marshall’s kind , that is people like Marshall are racists to the core —that is –they dont like black people and gravitate to things ‘white’ i.e social and racial discrimination, and feeling that because they have a certain ability to articulate, that they are superior human beings and have a lien over people and that the country owes them something ??????????????
    DONT the BAD BOYS take example from Marshall and that kind who define and categorized people by attainment of so-called education, materialism and a snobbish attitude towards black people especially and exclusively ????????
    ARENT these problems that are not addressed and not being addressed in this society?????
    ISNT it true that all Bajans do is talk and talk some more (this includes talking on the blogs) ?
    ISNT it true that Barbados received the most passive slaves–the good slaves–and this passivity has continued ?????

    JUST ASKING -not looking for answers from head in the sand people, yuh dont think that I know better ???

  17. DONT you think that the above comments about former Prime Minister Owen Arthur are uncharitable , unkind ungrateful and disrepectful ??

    DONT you think that the person who made those comments , hiding behind a pseudonym shouldnt be ashamed of themselves for writing such ‘nasty ‘ nastiness ???
    IS this what you get for service to your country ????
    DOES it have to get this dirty and slimy???
    WHATS the use of free higher education if people cannot conduct themselves in a more matured and respectful manner ????

  18. Cost of Postage………… $50,000 per annum.
    Number of pensioners. ..35,000.
    Postage Cost per pensioner…$1.43

    Solution :Deduct annually $1.43 from each pensioner to cover cost of postage.

  19. @Just asking

    Has the person said anytHing libellous about owen? Owen was paid for doing a job and very handsomely. He pretented that he was not in favour of the salary increase and all of them took it, he used his position to enrich his friends AND PLOTICAL ALLIES do u remember the acronym that his Deput Mascoll coined, it was JAWS (i think that what it was called) go do to some research and then add hardwood AND TELL ME WHAT YOU FOUND.

    By the way, you are entilted to your views about Marshall, arn’t you, the other bloggers have their point of view and are hiding under a pseudonym just like you. owen was and is no sweet bread, he used to cuss public officers with unpunity.

  20. @Sargeant
    “If you apply the pros and cons of direct deposit versus the mailing of
    cheques the “pros” of direct deposit win hands down”

    This is true if you only think in terms of dollars and cents. Fortunately our elderly are more than just a line item on a balance sheet.

    could you elaborate on your confidence in the lovely minister’s chances against the young gentleman? You seem to be one of a handful that feel this way.

    If the news from TnT gives any indication as to the scope of Clico’s issues, we are in for one hell of a ride whenever this forensic audit is done. I suspect elections will be called long before that day.

  21. @ Colonel Buggy
    Cost of Postage………… $50,000 per annum.
    Number of pensioners. ..35,000.
    Postage Cost per pensioner…$1.43
    Take the above equation to it logical conclusion
    Monthly postage per pensioner……….$0.119 (approx 20cents/month)
    For just 20 cents per month the NIS board was prepared to cause undue pain and stress to a large number of our elderly. Talk about lighting a hundred dollar bill to find five cents!!!!! This is brilliance at its best.
    We then have to look at the other side on the coin. When these pensions are lodged to the bank is there is now a great deal of administration by the banks’ staff. As well intended as the banks might be to assist the pensioners I can see the banks in the near future stating that because of the administration of dealing with these accounts that they are forced to implement fees associated with such. Bear in mind that if many pensioner live from pay cheque to pay cheque they will only leave enough on the account to keep it open therefore these accounts will not benefit the bank so increasing fees for these accounts will be understandable.

  22. It really gets a little tiring reading about Mr Arthur depositing a $75,000.00 cheque to his account which was intended for the party. People be real now, the manager’s cheque was made payable to Arthur so who can cash but Mr Arthur. In all likelihood when he presented that cheque on election-day in 2003 he had to give the bank an explanation for the receipt of the funds (anti-money laundering regulations).
    What I would say is that if the company intended to give that money to the party the cheque would have been written to the Barbados Labour Party not Mr Arthur. The question is why would the company (CLICO) personally give Mr Arthur $75,000.00?
    I wonder how much Mr Thompson was given personally because I understand that Mr Parris/ CLICO gave the DLP $30,000.00 (remember that Mr. Mascoll was leading the party at the time).
    Another thing I know that businesses are duty bound to keep accounting documents for seven-years but to miraculously come up with a cheque in Jan 2008 that was written approx five years ago in May 2003 smells of a plot (Imagine the hundreds of cheques written between those dates). Was some person given a copy to be used at a later date hmmmm!

  23. @Observing

    This is true if you only think in terms of dollars and cents. Fortunately our elderly are more than just a line item on a balance sheet
    So Thompson was right after all, the country is more than an economy………

  24. @observing

    we have atlest 18mths, and i dont have to elaborate. When you get the results, rember that i told you he wont beat her.

  25. WHATS a little cussing to gee -up a person ???
    DIDN’T EWB and politicians of that era cussed people on political platforms , in the house and on the phone and insult people to their face?
    WHAT did EWB say about Leroy Brathwaite when he walked up the House of Assembly steps ????
    WHAT did EWB say about John Connell ???
    WHERE you now come from though ????
    HOWCUM we have gotten so soft ???
    HAVE you never played netball or hockey, cricket or any other sports or undergone any military or semi -military–discipline experience such as girl guides , scouts, cadets, brownies, blossoms ?????

  26. If there are 38,000 pensioners receiving a cheque every fortnight, that makes for about 900,000 cheques per year for pension benefits not to mention all the other benefits.

    Thats a lot of cheques and the cost should not be seen just in terms of postage but the manpower related to the preparation and processing of such a large volume of cheques. I am told that along wiht maintaining a large accounting department of its own the NIS spends substantial sums outsourcing aspects of its accounting.

    Sources tell me that the dermands created by preparing , processing and reconciling the large volume of cheques is one of the major causes the NIS financials are not prepared in a timely manner.

    Again, I am told that the board at no time made a policy decision that all benefits would be made by direct deposit. I am told that whereas the current policy is that the default option for receiving benefits is by cheque and a person could make an arrangement to have a direct deposit, the aim of the board was for it to be the reverse. if that is correct then it seems to me that pensioners still have a choice, unlike what has been presented in the media. Given that we all know that the large majority of people typically choose the default option in anything, I see the benefits of the tactic of making direct deposit the default option. Persons who find direct deposit onerous could than indicate that they wanted a cheque.

    The number of pensioners will only continue to grow, the cost of preparing, processing and reconciling such a large number of cheques must be substantial. In light of that I see nothing wrong with direct pension being the default option, which gives people a choice but allows for efficiencies to be gained.

    • @Trained Economist

      Your position that direct deposit was always meant to be the default option is news to the general public.

      It was never communicated in the way you described.

      One would imagine that transitioning to a more efficient system could have been businesscased and discussed with the public, specifically the target.

  27. I agree that what has come out so far is that the board decided that direct deposit was going to be the only way to get a pension benefit.
    I have spoken to a number of board members and they are all clear that the board never passed or sanctioned such a policy.

    What they did say was that the since 2008 board had mandated a campaign to have a much larger percentage of pensioners taking their benefits by direct deposit, that they were dis-satisfied with progress to date and they had impressed on management the need to aggressively step up the campaign. However, they were all very clear that they had taken no decision or sanctioned any move that pensions were only to be paid by direct deposit.

    If the board members are to be believed I can only surmise that the public announcement may have been a tactic on the part of management to step up the campaign.

    When I last checked the most recent audited financial statements for the NIS was around 2002.

    • Thanks Trained Economist

      Will put this on our FB status to put the word out there.

      A couple points which have been triggered by your recent comments:

      1. for such an important fund, in fact the most important in Barbados financials as at 2002 is not acceptable

      2. why not put a request for proposal to the banks to service a ‘No Chargeable Pension Account’ .

      The carrot would be an allocation from the cost savings from generating the cheques currently.

      Those pensioners who make the bank account a default option would benefit from offers which the NIS and the bank which wins the tender can agree.

  28. My sources tell me that currently about 8% of pensioners get their pensions by direct deposit. The board members i spoke to suggested that the board felt that ideally the ratio should be about 90% direct deposit and 10 cheques.

    They indicated that the percentage had hardly moved from 8% since they raised the issue and suggested that management actively promote the direct deposits in 2008. They indicated that they felt that with a decent effort this ratio should have improved by much more and there was a need to step up the campaign.

  29. I just got an email, and i was told that when the new board convened in 2008, the most recently available audited financials were for 1998, which was what triggered discussions about the problems with bank reconciliations and the large volume of cheques written, hence the discussion about the need for more direct deposits.

    • @Trained Economist

      It should never have been an issue to reconcile pension cheques in this day an age.

      There is software out there which could have been easily integrated in the NIS host system to record cheques outstanding and cheques paid.

      Now that the Automatic Clearing System has been implemented in Barbados the NIS would simply need to code pension cheques and work with the banks to ensure the system works smoothly going forward.

      You would have to draw a line in the sand based on the unreconciled items prior.

  30. Trained Economist

    You are telling blatant lies in your last comment.

    By letter Ref. No. 702/2/1 the dated September1, 2011 the Director wrote:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Lodgement of Pension to Bank Account

    The National Insurance Office is phasing out ALL pension payments by cheque. This means that eventually you will not be able to receive your pension by cheque.

    That was the first paragraph of the letter. You further went on to deceive persons on this blog by implying that NIS has to outsource aspects of its accounting even though they have a large accounting department. The truth is radically different from the impression that you seek to create. The work can be done inhouse but they prefer to give contracts to friends and family to stuff their pockets with NIS funds. Every time they do this the work is done incorrectly and the staff is left to correct the bad work done by the high-paying contractors.

    The latest result of the bad work is that several pensioners are receiving substantially less pension because the people who they brought in failed to record contributions.

    Anyone who received a pension recently should have the amount checked in most cases it is going to be substantially lower than than the one you should have received as a result of the bad work done by the people who were outsourced. To be fair the NIS should undertake such a task.

    Finally, I hope that Dennis Clarke of NUPW who sits on the NIS Board had nothing to with this decision. He refuses to allow the salaries of NUPW staff to be deposited on their accounts. He says that he prefers to feel the cheque in his hand.

    • @Caswell

      Can you scan this document and forward?

      Regarding your comment about Dennis Clarke who leads a trade union representing the majority of the civil service. we can only hope you are wrong in the year 2011:

      Finally, I hope that Dennis Clarke of NUPW who sits on the NIS Board had nothing to with this decision. He refuses to allow the salaries of NUPW staff to be deposited on their accounts. He says that he prefers to feel the cheque in his hand.

  31. Caswell you are above this.

    I said that my source indicated that the board had made no such decision as indicated in the paragraph you quote. I also went on to say in a later post “if the board members are to be believed.” We have a statement from the NIS, the question is, whether or not the statement reflects a decision of the board.

    I cannot comment on the outsourcing.

  32. This takes me back to my beef about journalism. I cannot help thinking that on the announcement by the director and the issue of the public documents that decent journalists would have asked questions like:

    When was the decision taken?

    Can we get a copy of the resolution?

    Was it a unanimous decision of the board?

    Such questions sound simple but they can be revealing.

    We now have on this blog a suggestion that the announced policy was not in fact a board decision. The anwers to questions 1 and 2 would have been helpful in this regard.

    If there was evidence of dissenting board members they could have been sought for interviews.

    OH well.

  33. I found the silence of the board and Chair in particular interesting. Now if as TE is suggesting the board had mandated an aggressive push for direct deposits, I could see the board interpreting the statement as a tactic and be willing to sit back and see how the St. James pilot worked out?

  34. David

    My scanner is not working.

    Trained Economist

    The second paragraph of the letter states:

    “It is the policy of the National Insurance Board to provide a fast, safe and secure way of paying your pension. We would therefore like to start lodging your pension directly to your bank account as soon as possible”.

    That gives me the impression that the Board had something to do with the decision.

  35. Maybe Caswell is beginning to influence me, but a birdie has whispered to me that this is the Director’s last week on the job and he is moving to the Financial Services Commission.

    Caswell, any connection you think.

  36. Well their own internally generate annual report haven’t been posted online I can only hope that they can be source at the office and haven’t been done. All the bashing/denial from swelling of the civil service since the current government took office could be dealt quite easily with the reports. The only report currently online is 2007 own .

  37. @David

    Trained Economist is confirming the costs beyond the mailing of cheques that applies to processing and delivering them to pensioners. It should be the goal to get the payments into the hands of the beneficiaries as quickly and efficiently as possible and direct deposit should be the target. I will repeat we should all be interested in efficient delivery of Gov’t services.

    If the Board and the management of NIS can’t seem to get a coherent message out it points to the ham handed effort at public relations which more often than not appears to be the norm for some Gov;t agencies.

    Is it your suggestion that Gov’t request that Banks establish a “No chargeable Pension Account”? Why should Gov’t have to do this? Shouldn’t BARP be in the forefront of lobbying for Senior Citizens? Two of the three Canadian Banks operating in Barbados have senior accounts where service charges are waived in Canada, I would hope they have the same in Barbados and if they do not it should be BARP’s position to fight for its members and by extension “Senior Citizens”.

    I would also hope that BNB given its origins from the Barbados Savings Bank would have accounts that would be cognizant of the needs of the Senior citizens of Barbados.

    • @Sargeant

      Suggested the NIS run interference with the banks because it probably carries more weight.

      Although BARP has done well it has not yet attracted a reputation for being militant or activist ,its participation in the recent FTC BLP rate hearing not to be ignored.

  38. caswell i fully agree that the impression from been conveyed that it is the official policy of the NIS, which would imply sanctioned by the board.

    The information coming to me suggests that what the board wanted was for direct deposit to be the default option and persons wanting a cheque would have to request such.

    If my sources are to be believed than I would surmise that the NIS statement either did not capture that nuance, or was a tactic to draw a response from pensioners.

  39. Bim remains the same, burdened by a government it cannot afford at this time, blundering from one fiasco to another. Some DEMS will continue argue and seek to persuade us despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that Barbados is blessed by this DLP government. Couldn’t want or get better. Every action of the DLP points to a party winning an election with no plan for governance. It still fails three/four years later to have an overall direction to govern how and what is put in place. Not even the slogan ‘ Barbados is more than an economy it is a society’ truly governs what they do and how, especially in relation to the elderly and the middle class. Evidence of this is the drug reform fiasco for which no courage or humility has been found to correct the injustice. And secondly the pension cheque saga which is mind boggling because so called intelligent ‘caring’ people from the Chairman to the board to the Executive Director to the Minister and Cabinet seem to have their societal caring emotions switch in the off position, when approving this policy. This should be phased over time, where you target a specific age that would have transitioned to technology. For example the current 55 year old group who have bank accounts and can be put on notice that when they come to get pensions it will be done electronically using bank accounts. The older less tech-savvy groups will continue by option until they leave the system. But again it was more about the money than the society. Government by this DLP administration is really more of the same, working it as they go along and doing it rather poorly in a period of crisis that badly needs competence.

  40. @Trained Economist

    Who can believe it was a tactic to gauge response given the political implication for Byer-Suckoo who will have her hands full with Sutherland.

  41. @caswell

    I have interpreted what trained economist said, that the director might have miscontrued what they have said and hence he issued the letter. The board minutes of that meeting should be evidence, dont you think. I will give trained economist the benfit of the doubt until proven otherwise. You should indicate that he is a liar. He was relating what he was told.

  42. @Bajan Truth

    In your zeal to criticize the Gov’t over this “fiasco” as you termed it you overlooked one salient detail, it has not been implemented yet, so the opportunity to pour money down the drain will continue indefinitely.

    And since you mentioned “transitioned” one can ask why didn’t the great economist who leads your party transition the nurses at QEH who wanted to remain there under the terms of their employment rather than join the new board. Why did he insist on my way or the highway instead of “grandfathering” those who were there before the establishment of the Board. The Gov’t then spent time scouring world capitals e.g. Manila; Lagos and New Dehli seeking replacement for those nurses.

    One can safely add that the fiasco of the QEH nurses is one of the elements that has continued to bedevil the institution’s ability to deliver quality service.

    Just another example of your Gov’t in waiting “competence”

  43. @obediant
    I’ve noted it and I’ll hold you to that. history, current events, swings, sentiment and on the ground info tells me otherwise but hey. let’s meet back here the day after elections on that one.

    It most definitely is more than an economy. But, if you’re going to trump the society card as a political panacea, then you had better damned well get the solutions right and at the right cost.

  44. @David

    I did not deliberately refused to espons to you, the fact is i did not genuinely saw your question. The emperical evidence is the magin of victory by whcih she won the seat and to lose that amrgin after one term, will take a tsuname.


    I am in the constituency and i am also talking to constituents, any how if i am alive we will meet here a day after the elections

  45. @obediant
    did you factor in that it was a BLP stronghold and that in the 2008 election it was an open seat with no incumbent and that that election happened during a swing year which favored the DLP? Plus the good doctor’s popularity would have been based solely on community association as a physician and the absolute weakness and absurdity of Mr. Gill? Now that she has a national and constituency record to run on and the potential for a swing of some sorts in the BLP’s favor I’m still hard pressed to predict clear victory for her. I mean, she has a good chance but still, you’d have to point out Dwight’s basic weakness(es) and then maybe I”ll have a second thought.

    • @Observing

      We know Dwight’s strength which is: he was raised in the heart of this bellwether constituency and his father was a Louis Tull lieutenant, Tull who remains vastly popular in the constituency even today.

    • @anthony

      Maybe but you should remember the NIS is known for having the deepest pockets as in investor in Barbados.

  46. It may have the deepest pocket but it use most of that to buy government paper. If they threaten the banks and then drop then as part where a pension cheque can be exchange people will down cry the nis. Most of Nis fund are not liquid it at least 70% government paper right now. What liquidity they do have it probably kept at bnb.

  47. Maybe there is something fishy going on in the NIS, too much of their money is being used by both parties while in government
    BNB might not be that inclined to make a special deal with government because maybe soon their name will be changed.

  48. WOULD Owen Arthur agree that the best way to fight this election is to have strong individual candidates who can win on their own steam ?
    ISNT this the best way to ice Mia Mottley, her threat to disrupt Party Unity and the struggling DLP -all in one go ????


  49. Qouting David of BU “if Director of the NIS Ian Carrington recommended the change in policy, the Board headed by retired banker Tony Marshall – who reports to Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo – should have blocked the idiotic proposal”

    But David boy what if the idiotic proposal came from the Board itself?

  50. By the way, is this the same Tony Marshall that is to be returning to the call-in programme at VOB? I thought they said they were not using any moderators with political affilications?

  51. David it is arrogance and stupidity plain and simple. No point in dressing it up to make it seem pretty.

    If you are going to do direct deposit only you must FIRST TALK TO THOSE PEOPLE who will be affected. And it does not matter that they are old and poor and don’t belong to the same lodge as the big shots. If fact those are all the more reasons to TALK to the PEOPLE.

    Government and banksters too find it easy enough to take people’s labour and money when they are young and healthy but when those same workers become old and poor that same government and banksters want to treat them as though they are idiots.

    Look if the U.S. government can givetheir people 2 or 3 years notice before rolling out direct deposit only, why can’t Bajans do the same. Why do we always like to treat our own people as though they are nothing and nobody?

    • @Random Thoughts

      Agree with you 100%.

      It should be a reminder that our buses have steps which are very high from the ground compared to those in Sargeant’s neck of the wood.

      The full picture must be factored.

      Whoever made the decision it is scary to believe Minister Byer-Suckoo would have been ignorant to it.

  52. Quoting Caswell ” as a means of getting their friends and family employed.”

    Probably friends and family who can’t hold a job anywhere else because they are so lazy, dishonest, or want to take 6 weeks “sick” leave a year.

  53. I have a lot of respect fr my late father (and not much for politicians) Just before the last election both parties came to his home and offered to take him to the polling booth. I am not sure why the parties felt they had to do this as the old man was an excellent father and had nearly a dozen dutiful sons and daughters to do for him. The old man died shortly after the election and not a fella from either party, called, sent a card, flowers or showed their ugly faces at the funeral. Even though the old man had lived in the same constituency for more that 70 years. Somehow the politicians were too busy, or haven’t yet noticed that their constituent has died. Damn rascals.

    Anyhow he told both parties. I am not voting in this election, because I know that I will die not long after this election, and I will not cast a vote when I know that I will not have to live with the result of that vote.
    A scholar and a gentleman. And an honest man.

    Wish I could say the same about any politician.

  54. The real problem, government would like to see a drastic reduction in the elderly population of Barbados. Governments have misused so much of the NIS money that they are trying any way possible right now to save every cent they can; the same thing for the health programme. Pensioners are now treated like beggers and a burden to the government, the same elderly folks who gave their hard worked blood, sweat and tears to build this nation which is now being destryed by selfish politicians who are just paying lip service to the elderly.

  55. I do support the direct deposit of NIS. My greatest concern is the pensioner being able to ascertain that the amount deposited is the amount due. My first query when I heard that it was happening was “did the respective pensioner agree?’ only to learn afterward that it was mandatory without consultation.

    This is the era of technology and advance technology. Each bank has issued a bank card and they are all phasing out books. We the children ought to work with our parents and encourage them. When computers came in after many years my mother took computer classes.

    Why was the pensioner going to the corner shop? Does that corner shop have banking machine? The same way then they can continue shopping at the corner shop – swipe the card. Tell the sales assistant and cashier how much you want to spend and don’t go over that amount ‘please.’

    Yes, we can work with our elderly to bring them alongside of us. WE don’t have to sit on the side line and watch them. They told us to go ahead and get higher education but not for us to leave them behind. We will dialogue with them and be patient. WE will encourage them.

    The move by govt was indeed hasty, however, it is time to discuss, sensitize and mobilize direct transfer of pension funds.

  56. @scout

    you are one uneducated dunce. You need to get real. You came with that drug service agrument and you were shown to be hopeless. How can u make make such stupid statments over and over. IT SEEMS U LIKE TO READ THE NONSENSE YOU CONTINUE to put on this blog. As a friend of mine once said to a manager, you like u aint responsible for the junk u does write..

  57. Obediant
    Maybe you should be renamed DISOBEDIANT, you’re certainly looking above the average elderly bajan. I’ve seen the way outpatients are treated at the QEH like they are the outcast, then to find out that the medication prescribed by the doctors are not in stock so the patients have to come back. Some of these are very old persons, some with walking sticks , some with walkers ans some in wheel chairs. Do you think the elderly, who have given so much to this country for little financial gain, should be treated this way? If I’m talking foolishness, then you have your head in the clouds, the problem is too many of you are so attachjed to a political party that they can do no wrong in your eyes. I would continue to speak on behalf of the down troddened and those who cannot speak for themselves. the fact that bajans are living long is posing a major problem to government whether DLP or BLP, than is why the pension age was raised to 66 or whatever, it is to the benefit of the NIS when a retired person expires within a month or so after they stop work, the family gets a $1000.00 funeral grant and the rest goes into the treasury; over the last year or so much of this is happening. Obediant, stop sticking your head in the clouds and face reality.

  58. It might not be so simple. It seems to me that a mandate to step up the direct deposit program was interpreted or communicated to the public in a particular manner. The board members I have spoken to are very clear that there was no board decision to make direct deposits mandatory. There appears to have been agreement for direct deposits to bepromoted as the default option as opposed to the current situation where cheques are the default.

  59. Trained Economist is making valid argument but my problem is that if the nation was reporting the story wrong why the nis didn’t take them to task about it. When there was an outcry of the policy that the nis didn’t state all of the policy, to deny that it was mandatory that the program was largely optional and a way of streaming payments for more efficient delivery and access of funds. I think that a scape goat it being looked for either in the nation or the board.

  60. Trained Economist is flying a heavy kite.
    No Board and no Director of the operational arm of a board in Barbados acts in the way he suggests unless the director is totally inept and inexperienced. As for the Minister not being informed of the campaign to change the methodology before it got rolling, that boggles the mind. Somebody slipped up and it could be as simple as the Chairman telling the Director exactly what he wanted to be done and the Director following through without giving the matter any significant thought.

  61. Checkit-out wrote:
    “Somebody slipped up and it could be as simple as the Chairman telling the Director exactly what he wanted to be done and the Director following through without giving the matter any significant thought”.

    That sounds more like the version of events that I heard.

  62. Trained Economist

    I never said that the Minister, or any of the Cabinet, was aware of the decision to discontinue cheques before it was communicated to the public. I am informed that the only reason the decision was reversed was that a particular Minister was fearful of losing his seat, because of the backlash.

  63. I understand that it was the arrogant Tony Marshall who made the decision to change the system of payment of pensions. Employees said that they thought Jepter was the worse Chairman but Phony Marshall takes the cake.

    Poor Mrs Byer Suckoo could not stand up to him. NIS now has to worry about expenditure because the NIS funds are being used up daily by the government to pay its bills and as such has no control over its cash flow.

    By the way, has Phony tendered his resignation, he is to return to VOB to do his DLP promotion as election draws near.

  64. Prodigal
    Would you pleeze stop calling my husband’s name? Tek he name out ya mout/snout.

    TONY MARSHALL I luv you wid a passion. muahhhhhhhhhhh.
    Cannnnnnnnnnnn wait til ya get back pun Brass Tax. De show did deadddd widout you. ya too swoiteeeeeeeeee Tony. I luv de laff bad. Doan mind de parasites like Prodigal. Rentokil gun tek care a dem fa we.

  65. You dont know this man, he is the most arrogant person you can ever come across. I would know, I worked with him.

    VOB should be ashamed to let him back on their airwaves. If he was spinning for the BLP, you would not want him back on the airwaves, you’d be cussing him like you do most people on this blog. But he spins for the DLP, so he’s lovable for you. I pity you.

  66. @Bonny

    You mean i have to put he in my fruit basket, you are becoming very avaricious. I am going to ask that something be devloped to cut your apppetite for all these men in public life. lol

  67. @Scout

    I suggest you check with nis about pensions benefits viz a viz those who would have worked in the private sector and those who would have worked in the govt sector. Also check out what happened if the pensioners were married and if they had dependents at death. Check out if there is comething callled survivor’s benefit. Are u sure the funeral grant is still $1000.

    I await your response.

  68. I guess it was only a matter of time before NIS had to back it. With the iadb application ( still hasn’t been approved i guess on of the conditions would be government co financing ) giving a first loan of 52 million us and second long of 30 million us for the 137 million us project. they still need another 55 million us in finance. With a 80 million bds injection they just need to get another 15 million us.

  69. Prodigal
    You rale jellus. dat is your probalem. I luv Tony Marshall wid a passhun n you cannnnn stop um. be he arrogant or ignorant, de luv still flowin. N who tell you dat i doan prefer arrogant ova ignorant? stupseeeeeeeeeeee. you does mek me rale sick , hare? Jellusies doan stir na mo. N eff he was spinnin fa de BLP, you would welcum he back wid open armz. Ah lie?? ya tu one-sided but ya inherit dah frum ya ‘party’. wunna-all rale one-sided.

    Now why ya want ta cut a good gurl like me appetite? but ya notice dat I luv de men wid ‘brainz’? afta ‘rall, ya know wah does happen when two fools collide? LOL
    Rite now de one dat I gine crazee bout is de CJ. Oh my gawd. whenevva I see he in de papah, I does get whet all ova n my tong does get a hard-awn jess tinkin bout wah i cud do wid he. He look soft n suck-ulent. Hare’s a fu moe ta add ta de ‘basket’ fa ma. Sir Gary, Sir Don, Sir Carl Hooper, Warwick Franklin,n he brudda Vallan. LOL

  70. Caswell Franklyn | September 25, 2011 at 11:21 PM |

    Checkit-out wrote:
    “Somebody slipped up and it could be as simple as the Chairman telling the Director exactly what he wanted to be done and the Director following through without giving the matter any significant thought”.

    That sounds more like the version of events that I heard.
    TRUE !

  71. @Bonny

    I like i dont know what to do with you, you to hot bosie. i gun send u a sloar pwoerd aidcondition union, i gun soon get one installed bosie.


    You took very long to repsond to me, so i am going to start you off. I checked with a school mate who works at nis and she told me that the funeral grant is $1815. As I have said before u does write junk on this site and mislead people. If i had the personality like my fried bonny i would tell you that you does write bear shoite. I will make you wiser on the pesnio issue as i confirm what in my memory is what currently obtains.

  72. obediant
    I don’t life on the blog, so I respond when it’s possible. If there is an increase in funeral grants, then THANKS for telling me, since quite recently I was Executor to a friends estate and I only recieved a funeral of $1000.00. I didn’t wait for information from a friend, this is what happened to me. I don’t play games with politics, since I have no political friends, I do have friends who are politicians from both sides.

  73. @Scout

    I am saying to you that you need to get your facts before you writ e so when your write it is from a position of current knowledge and not staleand outdated infrom ation, else you will continue to make your self an ass and come to the wrong conclusion. Come on, you have a politcal axe to grind, some of us try to disguis our preference but eventually it is shown, and your prefernece is ovious.

  74. The problem is not the postage. To cut cost they are looking at the wrong place. There is a lot of abuse going at NIS. First people to blame are doctors.
    I work for a company with 10 employees, on average we get 8 weeks of sick leave certified by dotors per year. NIS pays for that.

    One example:
    In April 2011, we hired a 24 years old, healthy new employee, a month later in May this new employee requested a vacation for 2 weeks in August to go to New York. Vacation was declined by management, as the employee is new and is still on training. Guess what happens next! In August on the exact dates of the vacation request, on Monday the employee did not show up to work, and later in the afternoon a friend delivered a 2 weeks doctor certified sick leave, and two weeks later on the day the employee is supposed to be back to work, we received another two weeks certified sick leave. In total this employee took 4 weeks sick leave for lower back pain. Now she is back. We believe she was vacationing in New York at the expense of NIS. Ofcourse company is hurting too.

    In January we had an employee who was on sick leave for almost 4 weeks for migraine. They are all receiving NIS.

    Doctors are depleting the pensions.

  75. @Cleopatra Jones
    How dare you question the integrity of the doctors? Obviously you never had lower back pain or a migraine before. Lower back pain can practically cripple you and those who suffer with migraine can tell you that a migraine headache can sometimes last for up to a week or more. What you should be concern with is the type of workstation your employees have to work at is the chair too narrow? Is the back rest supportive enough? Does the computer screen have a guard against the glare? Is the room well lit, especially over the employees work stations.
    You seem to jump to conclusions about staff too quickly maybe you are judging people on your own standards.
    Let tell you about a case with me, some years ago I took up a new job on the west coast within a short time I kept coming down with these coughing fits and nothing my doctor prescribed really help and he wanted to give me sick leave but I refused it. A young lady in the office (receptionist) always seemed to have laryngitis and was on sick leave often. The problem was there were bats living in the roof and the dander from the droppings was effecting us in the office.
    I would urge not to question doctors integrity too quickly they went to medical school not you and sometimes the reason staff fall ill is because the work environment is not healthy.

  76. @Cleopatra Jones: “In April 2011, we hired a 24 years old, healthy new employee, a month later in May this new employee requested a vacation for 2 weeks in August to go to New York. Vacation was declined by management, as the employee is new and is still on training. Guess what happens next! In August on the exact dates of the vacation request, on Monday the employee did not show up to work…

    So then guess what?

    You should have formally dismissed that employee immediately. Since they obviously did not care about the job and they were still on probation.

  77. Cleopatra Jones
    I agree with Christopher, that guy should have been removed since he was on probation. There are too many cases of employees going to their doctors and requesting time off from work for some strange ailment. When I was a junior in my work place, I would always hear guys say, “man test match coming up, I gine and tell my doctor I want two weeks.” this is nothing new. However, the depleting of the NIS funds is because of misuse by both governments. There was a time when banks were refusing money from the NIS because they could not lend it out fast enough, then government started dipping their hands in it and it felt good, so they dipped a little more then a little more until now they are beginning to see the bottom of the barrel

  78. i understand that there is a significant backlog of cases awaiting hearing by the appeals tribunals at nis. i understand that persons seeking to have their appeals heard by these tribunals sometimes have to wait in excess of two years for a hearing and then more for judgment. i would have thought that in the interest of justice the nis would bemore inclined to move speedily to put mechanisms in place to address thuis deficiency rather than trying to place an unnecessary burden on the bavks of already overburdened pensioners.over to you suckoo.

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