Why protest action is failing

Key actors in Civil Society, including significant political opposition, must come together to engineer successful protest action in a Barbados space.

The late General Secretary of the BWU and support team

The attempts by Caswell Franklyn of Unity Workers Union and others to galvanize protest action by Barbadians is commendable. In a democracy the opportunity for citizens to exercise a right to protest must be protected. History is replete with many examples where protest action by civic minded citizens forced change from those targeted.

One of the biggest protest actions in Barbados was the march in 1981 led by a powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU) to protest the sacking of David Gilkes by BARTEL. In 2017 there was the BLP led march that attracted thousands to signal to an incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) its increasing unpopularity.

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Do Mottley and Straughn Care?

Based on recent statements uttered by Minister Ryan Straughn the government is insensitive to the plight of senior citizens in Barbados.

The blogmaster accepts a widely held view that how a government treats its most vulnerable can be used as a good measure of our sense of humanity. Too many of our elderly died as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic and the event has quickly faded from national memory.

In May 2018 a Mia Mottley government was swept into government in unprecedented manner, the following month Prime Minister Mottley announced the decision to enter a selected default with domestic and foreign bondholders. As the saying goes -the rest is history.

Of concern to the blogmaster has been the negative effect the debt restructure has been having on bondholders who one suspects are mainly senior citizens; retirees or approaching that time. It is obvious senior citizens purchased bonds to help plan for retirement. In an act of desperation to right the debt to GDP ratio, senior citizens who had toiled for decades in the service of country and sensibly prepared for the golden years were made to feel tradeconfirmeresk by a Mia Mottley government.

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Time to hold former NIS Chairs Accountable

Submitted as a comment by NorthernObserver

Under its economic reform programme and arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, Government has committed to submitting NIS financial statements for the period 2010 to 2021 for audit by the Auditor General by March next year – Nation

Nation Newspaper

This is the date by which a new entity must be up and operational, to avoid sending anything to the AudGen.

If the BTMI is any example, anything issued will be “unqualified”, meaning auditors have deemed the information incomplete, and hence cannot ‘qualify’ (have any minimum level of confidence in) their report.

BUT, the editor who penned for the Nation needs to also know, what the Act governing the NIS says.

33.(1) The Board shall
(a) in each year prepare a report on its activities in its last preceding year and shall furnish such report to the Minister no later than the thirtieth day of June

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Sign up – Government Asked to Withdraw Changes to NIS Bill


The People of Barbados will be severely affected by the proposed changes to the National Insurance Scheme. They have noted that last March 2022, the Prime Minister stated that it was her intent to:

1. Make the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) a Statutory Corporation more independent from      Government by the end of 2022.

2. Recapitalize the NIS.

3. Add a requirement to diversify investments both locally and abroad.

4. Ensure that when private projects SEEK PUBLIC SUPPORT, they give the NIS the choice to invest.

However, the People of Barbados not having been privy to any report on the consultations regarding the National Insurance scheme, not being provided information on the Actuarial Review of the Pension Fund, not having knowledge of the assets of the Scheme or how the tax payers monies are being spent or invested or government’s action to recover funds that are being owed; are now being faced with a Bill that has already  passed in the House of Assembly without discussion when this Bill will have profound effects on the lives of the dwindling middle class and all of the persons from the lower echelons of society and Barbadians yet unborn. The Bill is now before the Senate the step before it becomes the law of the land.

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SOS Ministerial Statement on the NIS

Ministerial Statement On Revitalisation Of National Insurance Scheme

Minister of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, Colin Jordan. (FP)

Ministerial Statement on the revitalisation of the National Insurance Scheme by Minister of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, Colin Jordan, in the House of Assembly on Friday, July 28, 2023.

Mr. Speaker, the 17th Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund, the Unemployment Fund and Severance Fund as of December 31, 2020 was laid in this Honourable House on August 9, 2022. I should remind Members that the National Insurance Scheme manages these three funds along with the Catastrophe Fund and the Sugar Workers’ Provident Fund.

During the three years under review, the number of contributors decreased each year while the number of pensioners and the total pension payouts increased each year.

The Review’s assessment suggests that current contribution and benefit provisions generally provide a very good level of benefit adequacy and income protection to most workers and pensioners.  The legislated annual adjustments of the earnings limit and pensions have been effective in replacing most of the price inflation felt by pensioners and maintaining adequate coverage for higher paid workers. In other words, pensioners have generally been able to use the cost of living allowance increases to adjust to temporary price rises.

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Stop blaming the monkeys

Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd

Once upon a time Barbadians held Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) in high regard. The country never experienced outages with the frequency of recent years. Last week the country experienced another countrywide outage which seems to be a ‘BL&P error’ although predictably the monopoly was vague in its explanation of what triggered the nationwide outage.

One does not have to be an electrical engineer to conclude that the BL&P has a power quality challenge. To be clear – the definition of power quality equates to RELIABILITY. The leadership of the growing monkey population is fed up with having to deflect blame every time there is a problem with the power grid.

What is the problem with BL&P being able to deliver on power quality? 

Does the current state of play represent a failing of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC)? 

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NIS Town Hall – The Golden Chip

Today is the scheduled NIS Town Hall for a concerned public to share feedback to the revelation our National Insurance Fund (NIF) needs another lifeline. In recent days the buzz is a concern the eligibility age for NIS pension will be extended to 72 years old.

The blogmaster is willing to bet Prime Minister Mottley being the political animal she is anticipated that NIS reform currently being contemplated will significantly deflate her popularity, she needs the time to implement reform and win back favour BEFORE the next general election, the perfect political gamble. Especially if she is serious about demitting office at that time. Therefore one of the reasons for an early general election call.

Follow the NIS town hall at Combermere School, Waterford at 6PM.

Proposed Public Pension Formula Makes Bad Situation Worse

The following important comment was posted by Actuary and Talk Show host Walter Blackman to respond to a comment raised on the blog 60 Love Can LoseBlogmaster

Walter Blackman – Actuary and Brasstacks host

Pensions have surfaced as an extremely important issue at this stage of our national development, so I want to commend you for bringing this pension-related matter to the attention of BU readers.

The challenge for me is to distil esoteric, actuarial and mathematical concepts into information that you and all BU readers can understand. Please forgive me if I fail to overcome that challenge

We grew up hearing that one of the major benefits derived from working for the government was the receipt of a pension and gratuity.

I will use a 5-year average pay of $5,000 (assumed to be under the NIS ceiling, for illustrative purposes only). I simply want to show how the changes in pension legislation have affected government workers hired before September 1, 1975, those hired on or after September 1, 1975, and those to be hired on or after January 1, 2023.

A person born on January 1, 1945, who was hired before September 1, 1975 and who retired after 33 1/3 years of service will receive the following:

  • Government pension = $3,333.33
  • NIS Pension = $3,000
  • Total Pensions received = $6,333.33

Note that this pensioner is receiving a total monthly pension which is greater than the pay he was getting as an active worker.

This was a problem that the government decided to solve.A person born on January 1, 1945, who was hired on or after September 1, 1975 and who retired after 33 1/3 years of service will receive the following:

  • Government pension = $333.33
  • NIS Pension = $3,000
  • Total Pensions received = $3,333.33

Note the drastic reduction in government pension. This was not the best approach to be taken by the Government of Barbados to solve the pension problem.

A person born on January 1, 2003, who will be hired on or after January 1, 2023 and who will retire after the following years or less of service will receive the following:

  • Government pension (1-36 years of service) = $0
  • Government pension (37 years of service) = $$83.33
  • Government pension (38 years of service) = $166.67
  • Government pension (39 years of service) = $250.00
  • Government pension (40 years of service) = $333.33

This proposed pension formula makes a bad situation worse. The unions ought to make their voices heard.

Walter Blackman – Audio Version

Gratuity = 25% x monthly pension x 150
Pension to be paid = 0.75% of calculated pension

For example:
Government Pension = $3,333.33 per month
Gratuity = $125,000.00
Monthly Pension to be paid = $2,500.00

Barbadians Waiting for NIS Severance Forever and a Day

The Pratt and Morgan case established legal precedent with a time guideline a convicted person can be kept on ‘death row’. The 1993 judgement handed down by the Privy Council determined that if the state for any reason was unable to carry out the death sentence within a five year period, it was deemed cruel and inhumane punishment to the prisoner sitting on death row. The logic being that the death sentence should be carried out ‘speedily’ and any protracted period post death sentence represented death sentence plus mental torment.

Mental torment is defined as “a state of great bodily or mental suffering; agony; misery. something that causes great bodily or mental pain or suffering. a source of much trouble, worry, or annoyance”.

In a May 31, 2022 Nation newspaper report it was reported former workers of Grand Barbados Hotel have been waiting for severance payment to be settled. In cases where an employer does not pay severance, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) makes the payment and seeks to recover the payment from the delinquent employer if possible. It therefore begs the question why former Grand Barbados employees should have to wait almost ten years to receive payments guaranteed under law. It is interesting to note Toni Moore was the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) representative at that time. Moore is the current General Secretary of the BWU and Member of Parliament for St. George North. 

The blogmaster is of the view a similar mental torment affects employees who are made to wait protracted periods for severance payment. Although the employer should pay at first instance, the law affords protection in cases where this is not possible. Whatever due process/diligence has to be done CANNOT take ten years to complete. We have to start treating persons humanely. The blogmaster recalls the haste Minister Sinckler changed the disbursement criteria of the Industrial Credit Fund to pay Mark Maloney fees for constructing the overpriced Grotto housing units. There are several other examples to demonstrate who the cow likes he licks, who he does not he kicks. 

What does it matter for the government to boast about all manner of things and we continue to fail to build a just society.

NIS Management Team

Ms. Kim Tudor – Director

Mrs. Frances Fontinelle-Walcott – Deputy Director

Mr. Trevor Gibbs – Chief Legal Officer

Mrs. Janice Estwick – Financial Controller

Mr. Luther Jones –  Manager, Investments

Mr. Quincy Yarde – Chief Information Technology Officer

Mrs. Lee-Ann Mayers-Franklyn – Chief Internal Auditor

Mrs. Norma King-Brathwaite – Assistant Director, Benefits

Mr. Derek Lowe – Assistant Director, Customer Relations

Ms. Sophia Mings-Mascoll – Finance Officer, Compliance, Severance and Registration

Mrs. Carole Layne-Browne – Finance Officer, Collections

Mr. David Archer – Assistant Director, Human Resources and Administration

Ms. Katrina Bend- Marketing and Research Officer

The Ageing and Elder Abuse…relationship between social security – Pensions

We continue our focus on elder abuse in Barbados – Blogmaster
Submitted by Cheurfleur

Pensions are paid to old people from the NIS Fund which is financed by contributions from the employed. That group of able persons ages 18 to 60, originally, i.e 42 years by 52 weeks plus  plus 7 years by 52 weeks, i.e 67 years now.  

With a population of 1000 able bodied persons paying $100 for 42 years or 49, using annuities calculation the pot makes X to support Y in 1900s but Z currently.

I shall leave the actual calculations to Mr Annuity.  I am only concerned with elder abuse.


At its inception there weren’t that many people living far beyond 60 years of age. What we had was more contributors and less gobblers.  By the turn of the 19th century with better health services, vaccinations and greater production and higher income people began living longer.  No problem.

Then came the 20th century with women’s lib and all the other ‘liberations’ and fewer children were born ) per woman/family) thus fewer worker/contributors 20 years later vis  a vis elders migrating out of the system plus more more men on the ‘block’. (It’s worse in Japan).

There is a dilemma now.  How to balance this imbalance?  Have governments done anything constructive to balance it? 

They have raised contributions and extended the age of retirement by 7 years.  

But contributors are actually living until retirement (originally 60s) and surviving way beyond 80s (not the prayer request) at time of conceptualizing the ‘scheme’.  With the ‘rich man diseases’ prevalent, the plight of the fund managers is grave and great.  This was not how it was supposed to be.  You aren’t supposed to be there to get back 40 years of contributions.  Never mind the presumption of interest gained from your investments.  Ask Rockefeller or Rothschild.

Mr Annuity can tell you that there isn’t enough money to do business for these long-life, now  ‘good-for-nothing’, ‘resource sucking’ retirees.  Albeit some have worked and put aside extras in private pensions and endowments to make a better nest but they still have to give back what they took earlier.  Mathematicians nor Actuaries can fix this.

Every man for himself and God for us all.  Stay clear of hospitals

Forget your children and relatives who will prey pon yuh fuh yuh li’le pension and other valuables.  The real abusers are the vultures who first took the contributions and are taking again.  Notice how many of the aged population died during 2019 to 2020 and are still the most vulnerable.

What goes?

I have to ask questions from here on.

  • What profit it is to anyone faced with this quandary to put policies in place to protect you – old work horses?
  • Why fight to save a life that is costing you on the down side when there is no income from the up side to make it feasible?
  • Why expend resources on a population that is not giving any returns (at point) when the resource can be invested on a population to bring up resources?

If it would save some lives, won’t someone just propose that those who can fend for themselves, economically, do so and relieve the burden so that no one would want to move them out of the way, earlier?

It is not only family and the nearby public that are abusing the elderly.  

Pension Reform for Public Officer a Priority (including Members of Parliament a Priority)

The blogmaster found the comment posted by Critical Analyzer interesting even if provocative. What we can agree is that pension form in the public service- including for members of parliament – must be given a priority. The issue is compounded with the state of the National Insurance Fund that we are left to speculate.

Pension Reform as the world tries to do it now is only kicking the can down the road with the warmed over soup gimmicks of every few years increasing the retirement age, changing pension formulas and raising contributions rates while government borrowing from the pension funds for their projects.

Our pension reform needs to completely break the mold

1) For every person currently 50 years or less, change their pension age back tot 65 and have NIS pay an across the board universal basic pension (UBP) calculated based on the cost to cover a one bedroom rental, utilities and food for a single pensioner living alone. Anyone wanting more pension at retirement should seek private pension plans and other investment opportunities during their working years if they desire a higher standard of living.

2) Persons 51 and older would remain under the current arrangements with any shortfalls for the year covered by an unfunded pensions tax. This pension tax would eventually reduce and go away as the numbers under the old arrangement die out.

3) Since healthcare is the biggest money problem for pensioners, work on improving the quality and turnaround time for our taxpayer funded healthcare while bending healthcare costs down through novel approaches e.g. a requirement for medical license renewal could be a minimum amount of pro bono work at government medical facilities or referrals for free outpatient surgical procedures.

Critical Analyzer

NIS Virus

Barbados Underground has been exhaustive in its prosecution of the mismanagement of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Government after government has mismanaged the Scheme. The issues range from faulty governance practices, late production and availability of actuarial reports, updated certified audited financial statements, appointment of incompetent individuals to the board, questionable IT decisions, questionable investment decisions…

As usual, taxpayers are left holding the ‘bag’.

The raging COVID19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the NIS which has come has no surprise to some members of the BU family. To be expected the partisan political players will seize the opportunity to criticize to feed a rabid political appetite. The time has come however to have a mature discussion about the state of the NIS and what measures are urgently needed to protect the fund.

Is it possible for Barbadians to understand the importance of a dispassionate debate about the NIS?

Is it possible for politicians to understand the time has come to address structural deficiencies how the NIS is being managed?

Chairman of the fund Leslie Haynes declared this week the NIS Board has submitted a paper to Cabinet to approve the transition to a Statutory Board. Elsewhere in the press Leader of the Opposition Joseph Atherley has questioned how the NIS and Central Bank of Barbados are being managed.

Relevant link:

Discussed for 100 marks

UNEMPLOYMENT Fund is Broke, Time for Straight Talk Chairman Leslie Haynes

The following was posted as a comment by Walter Blackman to the Walter Blackman’s Political Insights blog – David, Blogmaster

Based on the link to the NIS investments, provided by NorthernObserver, all BU readers can now sing from the same Hymn sheet – see link https://www.nis.gov.bb/investments-2/

Here are the facts, and the questions to be asked:

The unemployment Fund is broke. Not a cent is left. No bonds, no cash. Nada. Zilch. Rien.
Where will the money come from to pay current and future unemployment benefits? Remedial action has to come down the pipeline very soon.

Government owes (i.e the politicians misused our money) $2.8 billion to the National Insurance Fund, and $0.1 billion to the Severance Fund. There is no cash in the Severance Fund. Where is the money currently coming from to pay the workers’ severance that employers are refusing to pay?

Is the law being broken with respect to the payment of unemployment and severance benefits?

The only way Government can repay the money owed to the NIS is through taxation. Who will the Government tax to get the $2.9 billion for the NIS?
The Baby Boomers have started to retire and will do so by the thousands every year until 2033. How will their retirement benefits be paid? Something has to be done very soon

At the beginning of 2015, the NIS was paying roughly $40 million per month (just think about the multiplier effect this has on our economy) in NIS retirement pensions. That amounts to $480 million per year, and $960 million over two years.
We can therefore understand what the Chairman of the NIS meant when he said: “there are sufficient funds there that we can see this through at least for the next two years.”

However, the Chairman went on to say: “So there is no cause for concern.”

Every BU reader can now look the Chairman of the NIS fully in the face and say: “We do not agree with your assessment of the NIS, Mr. Chairman. There is great, great cause for concern, and in fact, we are very, very concerned. Next time you speak, please tell us what is the Board’s solutions to the massive NIS problems we face.”

…what are the Board’s solutions?

Ode to Lack of Transparency @NIS

The BU Intelligentsia is a talented crew. If there is doubt the following Ode was posted to the Walter Blackman’s Political Insights blog by the man from the Great White North.

“The time has come”, the Walter said,
‘to talk of many things’
Of NIS, and severance and quivering rears
Of politics and of stings
And why the ? LP’s always rule
And whether touts can sing.

“But hold your horse” the rum shop cried
Before we shoot the breeze
For some of us party hacks,
And most are retirees
“No hurry” said the Blogmaster,
And they thanked him for the ease.

“Analysis by colour” the rum shop cried
Is chiefly what we require
Pepper and Salt otherwise
Fulfill much of our desire
Whatever the intended topic
Let skin tone fuel our fire.

The winds today are rather cold
And snow covers the town.
To add to all this Covid mess.
the city’s once again in lock down.
So with little else to do
I sit and watch the discussion on hue.


Mystery @National Insurance

Mia Mottley exerted her prerogative as prime minister in the system of government we practice by making a few changes to her Cabinet last month. Two of the changes included the promotion of two chairmen of statutory boards Senator Lisa Cummins and Ian Gooding-Edghill.

Both individuals have distinguished themselves as competent, hard workers with a capacity and resolve to get the job done. I have been impressed with their stewardship in their respective roles as chairman of the National Insurance Scheme and the Transport Board, in the case of Gooding-Edghill… Mottley said.

Nation Newspaper

The promotion of Ian Gooding-Edghill piqued the interest of some including the blogmaster. On paper he is/was responsible for the influential NIS and problem riddled Transport Board. We cannot be sure of the performance metric used to determine how he has “distinguished” himself in the dual role. However, as a concerned citizen the blogmaster must evaluate from an armchair distance. In a simple summary the blogmaster has not observed any gargantuan shift in the performance of the National Insurance Scheme if a most important metric is applied- the production of current audited financial statements. Audited financial statements are important because it provides a comfort level to the public through the eyes of a qualified external agency about the financial health of the Fund. The failing of successive governments to remedy the situation points to a systemic problem that should concern an ageing society.

The raging pandemic has serve to make a bad situation worse given the stress currently being exerted on the NIS and will for some time to come. Although Ian Gooding-Edghill has uttered mouthings in an attempt to assure the public the NIS is solvent. His voice cannot replace the independent assurance of the external auditor.

Two observations continue to puzzle the blogmaster. The avoidance of the normally loquacious prime minister Mottley when it comes to discussing any and everything under the sun. The recognition of Gooding-Edgehill given the current state of the NIS. Until we are told what measures have been implemented at the NIS under his tenure a sensible public must assume was business as usual.

Mottley and government may miss the irony that despite its focus on the economy – supported by an army of ministers and consultants – it has been the other ‘issues’ that have been clipping at the political heels.

Political Parties about Boosting Popularity in a Crisis

… Kevin Greenidge, explained that the “win-win” 18-month programme is designed to repurpose government’s expenditure, in an effort to push capital programmes that do not directly relate to tourism; for example, road works, the Barbados Water Authority’s vineyard project, the refurbishment of schools and the digitization of the public sector…

Source: BGIS

The government launched the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS) last week. BOSS is a direct response to the crippling effect the COVID 19 pandemic has had on the global economy. All economies in the world have had to manage the fallout from the unprecedented high unemployment to respond to a man made economic recession triggered to safeguard public health.

The blogmaster has listened to arguments for and against the BOSS and the trend for every issue these days is determined by ones political inclination.

What the COVID 19 pandemic has done to is to create an unknown variable that makes it impossible for policymakers and individual households alike to engage in sensible financial planning and forecasting. However, what is known is that a deep revenue hole has been created in the financial budget for 2020/2021 and there is nobody on the planet who can predict the time it will take for economic activity to climb to pre Covid 19 level. The result is that whether in the USA, UK or Barbados unemployment has spiked.

The blogmaster is no fan of policies that will result to increasing the national debt or printing money. Especially coming after the recent debt restructuring that has had a toll. However, Barbados must execute  policies to boost economic activity to buy time until the global economy to respond. Will BOSS achieve the objective,  time will tell. What are the alternatives to BOSS?

It is easy for political leaders and others in civil society to shout at John Citizen do not do this, do not do that. If one listens to the same crew for alternatives, there is silence.

Service based economies like Barbados are presented with a greater challenge of recovery because there will be a dampened appetite for air and sea travel. It means thousands of workers will be negatively affected for months and years to come, there is no doubt. BOSS should not be seen as a panacea to solving all of our problems, it is meant to be a mitigant, to keep public sector workers employed are redirect circulation of monies in the construction sector. The government has accepted the moral responsibility – for now – to keep public servants employed during the pandemic. Those criticizing that cutting public sector workers salary is illegal, give us the alternative. If it is illegal the law can be amended for the good of all? The private sector has already responded with lay-offs and severing employees. Where does the government derive tax revenues tom pay public servants?

It would be negligent of the blogmaster not to take the opportunity to express concern about the financial state of the National Insurance Fund. The noise created by the pandemic has served to mask many of the problems the island had been battling. The inability of successive NIS Boards and governments to make public audited financial statements should be of equal concern by several of the budding political parties and traditional media. Do we know if the fund is able to live up to its tagline? Why should politicians on a whim and a fancy make decisions to grab NIS funds- our social security monies- to construct unnecessary buildings; fire station, lend to private projects; Four Seasons by avoiding rigorous qualification.

For as long as BU has had a presence in the Barbados space there has been a view echoed by the BU intelligentsia that Barbados is a country living above its pay grade. The blogmaster has to express disappointment that leaders in our tiny society have not been bold enough to address the issue of the need to recalibrate our unsustainable lifestyle. Politicians seem stuck in the mode of boosting popularity at the expense of what is in the national interest.




Donville Inniss Matter Tosses Up Questions about Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited Limited/National Insurance Board Joint Venture Company

Discussion on the blog Donville Inniss Case Points to Endemic Corruption in Barbados after reviewing the 2018 financials of BF&M – parent company of ICBL – revealed there is a company called Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited Limited/National Insurance Board Joint Venture (“ICBLJV”).

Barbadians have been concerned in recent years the ease with which politicians commit NIS resources to questionable projects. The latest is the construction of a fire station to replace the one being demolished at Probyn Street to – in the opinion of the blogmaster – create a more aesthetically pleasing Bridgetown. The Hyatt is coming!

We must not forget the inability of the NIS Scheme to produce audited financials since 2007?

What about the the obligation of the NIS to produce an up to date actuarial review and for the government to lay it in parliament for public access?

The Mottley government was swept into office on the trusted and well used platform message of transparency. Why have we not seen some movement on these nettlesome issues given the importance of the NIS as a social safety net for Barbadians?

Now there is this Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited Limited/National Insurance Board Joint Venture (“ICBLJV”) listed as a BF&M subsidiary. For those not aware ICBL has been one of the principal actors in the Donville Inniss money laundering case. What does the ICBL have to do with the NIS Scheme?

Extracted from 2018 BF&M Financials page 91


The Grenville Phillips Column – Will the Honest Barbadian Please Stand Up?

Well done to our Pan American games athletes.  Many gave impressive performances and qualified for the final of their events.  They have demonstrated that they are internationally competitive.  To improve their training and attend other competitions, our athletes need funds.  So, how can we support them?

One method is for the public to invest in the development of our athletes.  Investors normally expect a return on their investments, otherwise, it is a charitable donation.  How can investors get monetary returns on this type of investment?  How can our athletes repay their investors at a rate to encourage sustainable investments?

The simplest way is through the endorsements and other earnings that our successful athletes may receive.  Those endorsements are not guaranteed.  Therefore, the investor takes a significant risk, since most athletes may not attract any endorsements.  However, if our athletes do well, they may attract endorsements exceeding US$1M each year.  Top athletes can attract endorsements exceeding US$20M each year.

Our successful athletes should enjoy the fruit of their success.  However, investors should also receive a return on their investment in the athletes’ non-earning development years.  Athletes and investors would need to agree on an equitable split of an athlete’s future earnings.  Perhaps they can consider a 50%:50% split, where the athlete keeps half of their earnings, and the other half is shared between all investors.

If our athletes agree to share any future endorsements, then we have willing internationally competitive athletes, and we have willing investors.  All we need is a trustworthy entity to manage the investment fund.  This model of funding can be applied to any sector that is internationally competitive.

Ideally, the Government, representing all Barbadians, should be trusted to manage all of our investments.  However, the Government’s decision to confiscate part of our NIS pensions and private retirement savings, makes them an untrustworthy manager.  Their decision to simply stop paying foreign creditors confirms that assessment.

Barbadians have trusted banks with their retirement savings.  However, the banks proved that their loyalty lies elsewhere, when they voted to allow the Government to confiscate part of our retirement savings.  Barbadians also trusted the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to manage their pensions.  But, they too proved themselves untrustworthy.

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry should be an independent entity that should be trusted.  However, their extremely partisan behaviour during the last general election, proved that they can only be trusted to be loyal to their political party.

Every financial entity who voted to allow the Government to confiscate their client’s retirement savings, has proven themselves untrustworthy.  They shamelessly voted against their client’s financial interests, in exchange for a pat on the head from their political masters.

Is there any business entity in Barbados that is not politically compromised?  Is there any entity that will put the interests of their clients above their loyalty to their political party?  Is there anyone left who treasurers their professional integrity?  Can such a politically independent entity please stand up?  Anyone?

They will be willing investors and athletes, so the fund will likely be established.  I hope that one of the first recipients will be our national treasure, Ronald ‘Suki’ King.  It will be a shame if such a fund will have to be managed from outside of Barbados, for the sole reason that all local entities are too politically compromised to be trusted.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Rise of the Uneducated Class

Many issues of the day continue to question our ability to govern. One of them is the health of the National Insurance Fund (NIF). If you listen to the politician while in Opposition, it is a fund under stress. If you listen to the same politician on attaining the office of government, the NIF is described in more positive terms.

For the sober in the crowd there are the actuarial reviews to consider. Successive governments have been unresponsiveness to public inquiry about  releasing the reviews for public consumption in a timely manner. Of equal concern has been the inability of successive governments to ensure the timely release of audited financials to parliament.

Generations of Barbadians have contributed to the NIF to give currency to the tagline – it is our lifeline.  Auditor General report after report detail bad investment decisions taken by successive governments of  National Insurance Scheme (NIS) motivated by pampering and pandering the old boy network. The “investment” of USD60 millions in Clearwater Bay referred to loosely by Barbadians as Four Seasons is one example.

The NIS is one of a handful of state owned entities that should be ring-fenced to protect against the incompetence of the political class.  Judging from all reputable sources of economic data, the inability to adequately govern a 166 square mile, less than three hundred thousand people located in an idyllic geography should be evidence enough.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw have signaled in recent weeks that major reform is coming for the education  system. The issue of revamping the  system has been discussed for decades by the more progressive minds. The inability of our leading lights to manage the NIS and the other entities that combine to ensure well functioning organs in the society is an indictment on the current system of edcuation.

Successive NIS Boards, NIS Investment Committees and the ancillary services have been managed by “educated” Barbadians.  The performance of the NIS like the judiciary, like the BWA, like the transportation system, like the waste management system, like the PSV sector etc etc all point to the inability to convert significant investment in education in the post Independence period.

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) since wining office in May 2018 has aggressively pursued economic strategies to address an economy in free fall.  Interestingly, we have not observed the same urgency to address challenges with the NIS. In fact Prime Minister Mia Mottley hinted that the hesitation to address the NIS problem is rooted in the enormity of the solution required given the future obligations of the fund.

This week it was reported that millions of  Brazilians protested against President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to privatize the pension plan. The story attracted the attention of this blogmaster because one senses that Barbados will have to implement draconian measures to protect the NIS for the many sooner rather than later. Already President hBolsonaro as suspended several benefits to Brazil’s low income, disabled and senior citizens. Only a few years ago Brazil was considered the emerging economy from the Latam region.

Related links:

Brazil: Bolsonaro to Suspend Senior, Disabled Benefits Programs

Brazil: Millions Protest Bolsonaro’s Neoliberal Pension Reform

The message to Barbadians is that we cannot continue to do the same thing all the time and expect a different result.

BB = P+G (E*SOEs +NG-S)



Expectant Pensioners Will Pay for Mismanagement of National Insurance Scheme

The following (with minor edit) is a comment posted by Walter Blackman to BU blog Whimpering Opposition.

– David, blogmaster

April 27, 2019 8:48 AM

“First thing this morning and we are off to the races attacking people instead of debating the real issues?”


Through the vehicle of BU, you are getting a very deep insight into the nature of Barbadians, as a people.

We have paid billions of dollars into the NIS since 1967. The money that was paid into the NIS was supposed to be prudently invested and used primarily to pay benefits to participants and their beneficiaries, along with the administrative costs of running the NIS department.

Reportedly, the NIS for Barbados was first articulated by Charles Duncan O’Neale almost a century ago. From the moment the concept was aired, some anti-progressive minded members of the white minority on the island rationalized that they were wealthy enough to provide for their unborn great-great-great grandchildren and therefore should not be called upon to contribute to any fund which pays out benefits to perceived poor and needy black Barbadians. To this very day, some of these white Barbadians are still demanding that they be allowed to opt out of the NIS.

With this background in mind, any sensible Barbadian ought to have been outraged when they saw black politicians from poor, humble origins take up the hard-earned NIS money of Barbadian taxpayers and stupidly give it away to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the flimsiest of excuses. All of us are forced to suspect that kickbacks, fraud, and corruption must have been associated with the squandering of our NIS funds.

Somewhere along the line, possibly within the next 30 years, many Barbadians will weep and gnash their teeth as they witness the NIS become totally transformed into a Ponzi scheme, and then collapse, never to be resurrected. By that time, the retiring age for a full pension might be 85 or 90 years old!

This is but one simple issue in the area of finance that is desperately crying out for political ventilation and a solution. There are many, many more financial problems, alternatives, and solutions that ought to be put to the electorate.

Barbados needs outstanding financial leadership now, more than ever.

Given the excessive, prolonged “spiriting away” of public funds, along with the deep financial morass that the country is now mired in, I must boldly ask BU readers a few simple questions:

  1. Who on the government’s side is seen as the person who can get up, address and communicate financial issues to Barbadians in a clear, understandable manner, and then get buy-in from the electorate and major stakeholders?
  2. Who is the named UPP’s spokesman on Finance?
  3. Who is the named Solutions Barbados’ spokesman on Finance?
  4. Who is the named DLP’s spokesman on Finance?

The Grenville Phillips Column – Cowards of the Highest Order

Some soldiers are so terrified of the horrors of war, that they intentionally harm themselves so that they can be transported away from the battlefield and receive priority medical treatment.  I am very sympathetic to soldiers who have been prematurely deployed to the battlefield.  A properly trained soldier has accepted the responsibility of defending citizens, which may require the ultimate sacrifice of death.

The Government encouraged us to prepare for our old-age by making National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions and investing in pension plans.  We were told that we could confidently invest in our future this way because the NIS Board consisted of eminently qualified persons.

The NIS Board has one main responsibility, which is to protect the money that should be paid to us in our old-age.  The NIS Board decided to lend our money to the Government.  The Government had difficulty in repaying what was owed to us.  As lender acting on our behalf, the NIS Board could easily have allowed the Government to repay our money over a longer repayment period, given the state of the national economy.  That would be acting in both our interests and the Government’s.

Shockingly, our eminent NIS Board members voted to allow the Government never to repay approximately $800M of our money.  What could have possessed them to harm us like this?

If they were intimidated by having their families threatened, then I could understand why they appeared to betray us.  However, once they were forced to vote against our best interests, they should have resigned.  If they are already compromised, then why are they loitering on the NIS Board pretending to represent our interests?

The Banks managing our pension plans knew that voting against our interests would harm us financially, but they did it anyway.  However, unlike the NIS Board members who may be subject to intimidation, all of our banks are foreign owned.  What possible reason could they offer for acting so cowardly?

Their decision to vote against our best interests means that they also voted against theirs.  Why would they do something so lunatic?  How can that level of cowardice inspire any confidence in their banks?  Why would anyone want to deposit money in cowardly banks who chose not to fight for depositors or themselves?

The banks are now recouping their losses by greedily charging us higher banking fees, but none of that money goes to our pension funds.  Based on their politically partisan behaviour during the last general election, the only rational reason for their decision to harm us financially, appears to be that they are still politically compromised.

The NIS Board and Barbados based banks would not have had to make the decision to financially harm us if the BLP administration had the courage to fight for us, rather than critically wounding us by defaulting on foreign loans.

Once the BLP administration had economically ruined us, they rushed us to the IMF, who made a quick decision to operate.  Now they have the gall to boast about how fast they got the doctor to see us – after they figuratively shot us in the gut.  Are they serious?

The politically compromised radio and newspapers have lost all journalistic integrity as they defend every irresponsible action of the BLP administration as brave and caring.  Are they mad?  What is so brave about defaulting on a loan?  Any idiot can do that.  It takes courage, creativity and perseverance to make those payments, especially after losing your job.

What is so brave and caring about laying-off people.  Any simpleton can do that.  It takes intelligence to properly manage people to be productive, and there seems to be none of that in BERT.  What is so brave and caring about raising taxes.  The most incompetent among us can easily do the same.  It takes bravery to lower taxes, and intelligence to provide an enabling economic environment where low-taxed persons can thrive.

Unfortunately, BERT’s demonstrated incompetence appears to be just the start of things to come.  Despite being fully aware that there are non-austerity alternatives to their severe austerity plan, BERT refuses to consider any of them.  That would normally be front-page news of a media outlet committed to truthfully informing the public.  But not our news media who appear to shamelessly play the role of propaganda-arm of the BLP administration.

Our sycophant news media refuse to report on any non-austerity plan, including Solutions Barbados’.  Instead, they continue to mislead the public that the mass suffering of Barbadians is the necessary and only solution. They are dead wrong and cowards of the highest order.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Government MUST Clear the Air on the State of the NIS Fund, it is Our RH Lifeline


Ian Carrington, Director of Finance

Ten  years have elapsed since the 2008 global financial meltdown left Barbados exposed for the open economy we have been taught it is in primary school. Across the Caribbean our little economies find themselves in the same boat with high debt to GDP and rotting infrastructures, rising corruption and a dearth of leadership.

Barbados WAS considered the gem of the Caribbean.

With all of our problems – some of our making – others caused by the vagaries of life’s existence- the blogmaster is concerned that after five months in office no definitive statement has been formally issued by the government about the current and future state of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

  • Is the NIS fund still marketed as our life line?
  • Was it established to provide financial support to citizens in the golden years?
  • Is the knowledge that we have a well managed NIS  fund an emotional comfort for the citizenry?

It appears from all the talk we have been hearing the NIS Fund is under threat. Given the catastrophic impact a failing fund would have on the Barbados society Prime Minister Mottley would do well to schedule another press briefing to lay the issues on the table and outline, what is the plan to stabilize and rescue the fund after it was used as a lender of last resort to add debt like no other time in modern history. To add to the problem, we have been told the former government didn’t pay 400 million dollars in employee deductions to the fund.

The blogmaster has posted several blogs about the lack of management demonstrated by successive NIS Boards and by extension government. The latest Actuarial Review is late (what is new?). Audited financial statements of the fund have not been laid in parliament to comply with the law for many years. Several projects funded by the NIS and decisions taken have been questionable.

  1. Prime Minister we need to know when the Actuarial Review due will be completed or if it was completed when will it be made public?
  2. Prime Minister we want to know when will the audited financial statements be laid in parliament and soon after be made public?
  3. Prime Minister we want to know on what basis Ian Carrington who was director of the NIS fund during the lost years has been given a leading role in the BERT execution in his current role as Director of Finance?
  4. Prime Minister we want to know why Dr. Justin Robinson remains active given his leadership role on the important Boards of the Central Bank and NIS Boards.
  5. Prime Minister we want to know who will be held accountable for the unconscionable squandermania of NIS funds in the last ten years.

In the debt restructure project the IMF document details that:-

NIS: T-bills, treasury notes and debentures. T-bills held by the NIS will be swapped for the new 15-year debenture; and its treasury notes and debentures will be exchanged for a 20- year discount debenture. The debenture will have with a 2-year grace period. Principal will be reduced by 17.5 percent at the issuance of the security; after the 2nd successful review under the proposed EFF-supported program, principal will be reduced by an additional 12.5 percent of the original principal; and after the 4th successful review under the proposed EFF-supported program, principal will be reduced by a final 5 percent of the original principal. Interest will be paid at a rate of 4 percent per annum for the first 3 years, followed by an interest rate of 8 percent per annum for remaining years.

Leading into the last general election the blogmaster had a brief exchange on Facebook with the former Chairman Justin Robinson about when current NIS financial will be laid in parliament- his response did not give hope the matter will be resolved anytime soon.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley you have been a big advocate for transparency AND accountability in government. We waiting to see!

Former Chairman of the NIS Jepter Ince Gambled with NIS Funds and L@#*

Walter Blackman is an Actuary and responded to the following comment by the blogmaster as under.

It may seem a trivial observation to make but make it the blogmaster must. How did Jepter Ince qualify to be appointed Chairman of the NIS?


David October 5, 2018 12:53 PM
“Thanks for lending your expertise to this matter Walter. Have you heard your professional colleague from Eckler on the matter? She highlighted all the issues we have exhausted in this forum including the lack of audited financials………”



I have been following the two recent NIS blogs on BU, and yes, I also read the comments attributed to Ms.Lisa Wade, Principal and consulting actuary at Eckler.

All of the issues at NIS boil down to a chronic state of poor governance, poor management, inefficient use of inefficient technology, and ignorance and incompetence flowing down from on high.


Speaking of ignorance flowing down from on high, I was a guest on VOB’s “Tell it like it is” programme one evening around April 2009. A caller mentioned that NIS funds were being targeted to build offices in Warrens for government workers. Government, in turn, was promising to pay a handsome rent. The caller asked for my view on the matter.


My view was that the NIS needed to keep its funds as far from government, or any government-related project, as possible. I informed the listening public that the actuary had recommended less government-related investment of NIS funds, not more. I knew for sure that all of the talk about handsome rents will eventually lead to the issuing of useless government paper in the long run.

In the twinkling of an eye, Jepter Ince, Chairman of the NIS at the time, came on the line and blew over the airwaves of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean like a destructive hurricane.


You Walter Blackman are unprepared and have come on this program tonight trying to fool and mislead Barbadians. The NIS Fund is going to get a return of 6% or more on its investment in this project.You don’t know what you are talking about”, he bellowed.

Just to indicate how dangerous (sometimes fatal) it is for a country when people hold important positions, but these people know not that they know not, listen to the actuary’s words on page 4 of the 15th actuarial review:



After falling behind on its

contributions and rental payments, the Government of Barbados covered some of its arrears by issuing Treasury notes and debentures to the NIF.”

Do you think that Jepter Ince gives two hoots about the useless government paper that goes into the NIF whilst cash is continuously taken out?

Have all the nails needed for the NIS coffin been already hammered into place?

New National Insurance Board Reads More of the Same

The following comments by Northern Observer were extracted from the NIS.Government Paper for Trash blog.

Comment 1
WHO is on the NIS Board? WHO replaces Carrington as head executive?

I rarely agree with T.Inniss, but what claims to Chairmanship or leadership of a body as complex and important as the NIS does Mr. G-E have? Being the BEC rep on the last Board is not a ringing endorsement. This has a very smelly political odour. This is a more important role than most Ministerial appointments. And this AP is showing up in too many significant roles, a little separation is a good thing, especially in Financial related roles.

The last Board was a monumental failure, largely I believe, because of persistent political interference. This new one, at least the reported lead directors, is set up for a similar potential failure.

Comment 2

Old Board

  • Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman
  • Mr. Wismar Greaves, Deputy Chairman
  • Mr. Martin DaSilva, Member
  • Mr. Ian Gooding-Edghill, representative of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation
  • Mr. Colin Jordan, representative of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association
  • Mr. Victor Felix, Chief Labour Officer (Ag.)
  • Ms. Avonda Carrington, nominee of the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs
  • Ms. Roslyn Smith, General Secretary, National Union of Public Workers
  • Ms. Toni Moore, General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union

Sooooo, The former BHT rep Jordan, is now the Minister in Charge
The former BEC rep Gooding-Edehill, (successful BLP candidate in 2018 election) is now Chairman. Persaud replaces Greaves as Deputy, Lawyer Haynes replaces DaSilva as member.and we await the other 6 who are nominees as shown above.

Remind me….is this the Board of Barbados Hotel and Tourism or the NIS?

Shows the PM is clearly NOT SERIOUS about having the NIS as anything but a continued long arm of the MoF. Pure patronage. After 12 long years of NO Annual Reports and this is the best she can do?

Government’s restructure program requires holders of government debt to agree to new terms and brings into sharp focus the critical role of the National Insurance Scheme, and of interest, its investment policy executed under successive governments.

The NIS is the largest holder of government paper and was mandated by the last government to buy what has translated to be ‘high risk’ government paper. The mismanagement of the fund threatens first to disrupt the peace of mind of our senior citizens who have done what was asked of them in the productive years.

A badly managed NIS threatens the social stability of Barbados.

Has the NIS been true to its tagline- its your lifeline?

The blogmaster has posted many NIS related items in the last decade. Sadly, there has not been any improvement in the perception of the BU household regarding how the fund is managed. Such a position is supported by the most recent 15th NIS Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund, Published, AND, the inability of NIS Boards to lay up to date audited financials in parliament for over a decade.

Here is the real issue for the blogmaster.

Successive NIS Boards appointed by DLP and BLP governments will continue to influence investment decisions because it is seen as a ‘lender of last resort’. A new approach would have seen the Mia Mottley government implementing measures to ensure the NIS is ring-fenced from political interference.

The blogmaster has to agree with comments that question the composition of the current NIS Board. It is evident there is no cataclysmic shift in the government’s approach.


NIS Government Paper for Trash

The blogmaster thought it timely to highlight one of several NIS blogs in a COVID environment for obvious reasons. After many years of calling for certified audited financials spanning different governments we are none the wiser – David, blogmaster

Is it irrational for citizens of Barbados to lend their accumulated savings , gratuities and separation packages to the GoB? Based on GoB track record is it unreasonable to expect repayments of those loans? Would you prefer the citizens to buy imported luxury consumption goods with all their income?

The citizens now senior were making provisions for their old age. The interests payments were intended to augment their income /pensions and to educate their children.

Interest rates on GoB papers rarely exceed 7.5 % and they were down to 6% in the last 5 years,. It is a serious breach of contract for GoB to squander its reputation as a country which honours its debt obligations. It is going to be difficult to gain the confidence of lenders in the future. A very short sighted decision.it was to default.

Vincent Codrington

The blogmaster was reminded that the National Insurance Scheme is the holder of over 2.5 billion in government paper based on their website.

What does the restructure of government debt restructure for NIS and Central Bank of Barbados government holdings?

How will the reduction in investment income impact the fund’s capacity to deliver pensions to senior citizens?

Of greater concern is how will retirees negotiate the economic hurdles posed by the debt restructure because of what they thought was astutely investing in government paper to supplement retirement income. The reality however is that any investment carries risk, government paper is no exception.


The Caswell Franklyn Column – Destruction of the Public Service Started with Errol Barrow

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017 the Nation published a column captioned, “Not a pretty picture” by Dr. Frances Chandler. I generally agreed with much of what she had written. For the most part, she criticised many of the shortcomings of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), justifiably so in my opinion.

I was actually enjoying her contribution until three-quarters was through when she struck a discordant note that reflected popular belief, but did not accord with reality. She stated:

Another problem is that NIS staff are civil servants governed by Civil Service rules and even the positions are Civil Service positions rather than those that fit the Scheme’s requirements. A more appropriate structure is needed.

Apart from that statement being basically without merit, Dr. Chandler should explain what is wrong with Civil Service rules. Also, she should specify which of the Civil Service positions at NIS do not fit into the Scheme’s requirements. I am not nor have I constituted myself as defender of NIS staff. But I could not allow subtlety disparaging remarks about them in particular or the Public Service, generally, to go unanswered.

It is true that most of the posts assigned to NIS are general service posts, which mean that officers occupying those positions could be reassigned to any government department that has similar posts. It is also true that there are posts and job requirements that are uniquely NIS positions. Those functions are done nowhere else in the Public Service or in Barbados for that matter.

Persons appointed to those posts cannot be transferred without their consent. I refer specifically to the twenty-four insurance officers, of varying grades, and seventeen inspectors whose job is to ensure compliance with NIS regulations. And, as a matter of fact, one of the qualifications, specified in the 2016 Public Service (Qualifications) Order is the Executive Diploma in Social Security Management which was offered by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. This clearly demonstrates that there were attempts to create specialists in National Insurance, albeit they being public officers.

Dr. Chandler’s assessment of the NIS staff and Civil Service rules would appear to come from someone who has been misled by anecdotes, rather than from a sound knowledge of the Public Service. Mind you, she is in good company with her mischaracterisation of the Public Service. Out of frustration with the Civil Service bureaucracy, no lesser person than the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow, then Prime Minister, disparagingly called the service an army of occupation.

That term has since been used, by persons who did not know its meaning, to disparage the Public Service. Mr. Barrow was a military man so when he called the service an army of occupation, he did not mean that there were lots of people being employed. He used the term as a soldier would have understood it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “army of occupation” as an army sent to control the territory of a conquered enemy. He meant that the Civil Service was in control, and he set about to break that control, however, with devastating consequences.

Prior to Independence, Barbados functioned well as a bureaucracy, where elected officials set policy and the Civil Service implemented the policy directives, in accordance with the established rules, which required too many checks and balances for Barrow’s liking. Rather than spend time to revise the rules to eliminate the excessive red tape, he devised a way to bring the service under the control of politicians.

In 1974 the Constitution was amended to give the Prime Minister the right to be consulted on the appointment of permanent secretaries, heads of department and their deputies. In practice, however, that consultation ended up meaning that the PM would make the decision and the service commissions and Governor-General would rubber stamp the appointment.

That single act has led to the politicisation and destruction of the professional Public Service, where senior public officers now owe their loyalty to the political party that oversaw their appointments. As a result, the senior public officers, who should be managing the Public Service and making professional decisions in the best interest of the Barbados, have been replaced by politicians without the necessary skills to manage the affairs of the country.

It is therefore unfair to blame public officers at NIS or any other department for the mess that the politicians have created.

Walter Blackman Comments on the 15th Actuarial Review of the NIS of Barbados – Misallocation of Human Resources

Walter Blackman – Actuary and CBC Talk Show host

The 15th actuarial review of the Barbados NIS is special in that the report was written at the end of the first 50 years of the scheme’s existence. This review therefore gives us an opportunity to see to what extent the NIS reflects the negative features and characteristics of the Barbadian society and economy which have emerged since independence.

The single biggest contributor to the downward slide and decline of Barbados, as a nation, is the misallocation of its human resources. From top to bottom, in private and public, we see and feel the deleterious effects of persons holding critical positions who have no basic understanding of what their roles are, and who are far less interested in knowing how to perform them. Whilst no attention is paid to effectively performing the job, every effort is put into extracting the essence and perquisites out of the position on one hand, and using every ounce of power associated with it to achieve personal and, very often, nationally damaging ends, on the other.

Continue reading

15th NIS Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund, Published

When government debt is viewed with NIS holdings excluded, the implicit assumption is that these assets are not “real” and that government raising taxes to repay the NIS is akin to raising the contribution rate on NIS contributors. This is because government tax revenue and NIS contributions come largely from the same sources – businesses, workers and consumers.

While the above discussion is primarily academic, the Fund faces the risk of GOB restructuring some or all of the debt that NIF holds. A restructuring of Government debt could include the face amount being reduced and/or yields drastically reduced. Both scenarios have occurred in the Caribbean in recent years as governments with high debt to GDP ratios sought ways to improve their fiscal positions.

Extracted from the 15th NIS Actuarial Report

Click to read the Actuarial Report

Who is Dr. Justin Robinson Trying to Convince?

Dr. Justin Robinson weeks after issuing a vacuous statement about the state of the NIS Fund is at it again. This time with an even more muddled and muddied message under the title CLOSER LOOK AT DOWNGRADES. The BU household tried- in vain- to understand the objective of Robinson’s exercise to explain what the credit rating downgrades mean for Barbados.

  1. Did the Barbados based company Sagicor have to redomicile to Bermuda because our tanking credit rating weighed heavy like an albatross around the necks of the shareholders?
  2. Is it a fact the international commercial banks cannot extend credit to a sovereign country with a risk weighting of C?
  3. Is it a fact the bond market will ignore Barbados as an investment option because respectable pension and mutual funds have exclusions in the terms which prevent fund managers from investing in junk?
  4. Is it true that Barbados has to borrow on the capital market to shore up reserves to cover maturing debt and this translates to higher cost to the borrower (Barbados)?
  5. Last but not least, how do 20 downgrades affect the confidence of a once proud nation?
  6. Please update Barbadians on the status of the project to have ALL of NIS Financials audited and presented to the PEOPLE!
  7. The people deserve to read the most recent NIS Actuarial Study for themselves. It is our damn fund and the management of it should be transparent!

Have a read of Robinson’s article and explain for 10 marks. Marks will be deducted if there is no working presented!

The Caswell Franklyn Column – National Insurance Staff not Sufficiently Trained to Administer Scheme

Ian Carrington, Director of the NIS

Following my last column about the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), several people, who were having problems with that government department, sought my assistance. Today, I would like to share the experience of two persons since the troubles, they were forced to endure to get unemployment benefits, show up fundamental problems with the processes at NIS.

They were informed verbally that they did not qualify for the benefit because the NIS records show that they were not insured under the scheme for a year. Both of them had been working for the same employer from 2013 to July 2017, approximately four years. NIS contributions were deducted from their wages but were not being paid in. As a matter of fact, the employer registered the business some time in 2016 and only started to pay in the contributions to NIS at that time. All along the workers claim that they were not aware that their contributions were not being remitted to NIS.

Every employee, who earns a minimum of $21 per week or $91 per month, is required to pay NIS contributions. Private sector regular employees are supposed to pay 10.1% of their insurable earnings, and the employer is required to pay an additional 11.25% on the worker’s behalf. Section 15 of the National Insurance and Social Security Act mandates the employer to make the deduction and pay the money over to the NIS Fund. The employee has no control over that process and in most cases might not even be aware that the employer has not complied with the law.

My greatest concern is that these workers were told that they were not entitled to receive unemployment benefits since they were not insured for 52 weeks. That information might prove to be correct but it was improper to make that determination and orally communicate the decision to the claimant. Whenever a person makes a claim and it is disallowed, the Director of NIS is required, by Regulation 8 of the National Insurance and Social Security (Determination of Claims and Questions) Regulations 1967, to inform the claimant, in writing, of the decision and also inform him of the right to appeal. From my experience, appeal forms are not readily available and it seems as though officers take offence when their decisions are challenged.

However, if the appropriate procedure were implemented: the claimants would have been able to produce their payslips to show that they were employed for the required period; and that NIS contributions were deducted from their wages, even though that is not absolutely necessary to qualify for the benefit. If the employer failed to pay in the contributions, the claimant only needs to show that he was employed and that he did not make any arrangements with the employer to avoid paying the contributions in order to qualify and receive the benefits.

It is then up the the Director to go after the delinquent employer to recover the contributions. When I worked there in the 1980s that is how we operated, and we did so in compliance with Paragraph 6.(1) of the National Insurance and Social Security (Contributions) Regulations, 1967. It states:

Where a contribution payable by an employer in respect or on behalf of an employed person is paid after the due date or is not paid, and the delay or failure in making payment thereof is shown to the satisfaction of the Board not to have been with the consent or connivance of, or attributable to any negligence on the part of the employed person, the contribution shall, for the purpose of any right to benefit, be treated as paid on the due date.

Arising from this case, I am told by the remaining employees that the employer is making deductions from their wages to recover NIS contributions that were supposedly not deducted when due. Workers should be aware that it is contrary to Regulation 18.(2A) of the Collection of Contributions Regulations to do so. It states:

Any employer who fails to deduct an amount that is required to be deducted from a payment of remuneration to an employee, may not deduct that amount from any subsequent payments of remuneration made to the employee for the pay period for which he had failed to deduct.

Too many workers are being disadvantaged by officers of the NIS department who are unfamiliar with the regulations. Maybe, it would be better if NIS administration require its staff to qualify in its regulations rather that in academic degrees that have no relevance to its operations.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – National Insurance Director Misled the Public About Pensions

Ian Carrington, Director of the NIS

On Sunday, September 3, 2017 the front page of the Sunday Sun carried an item in which the Director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is reported to have said that workers took an inordinate amount of sick leave only to find on retirement that their pension payments had taken a hit. He is then quoted as having said:

I always encourage people not to take sick leave unless they are actually sick. It impacts on the amount of pension you will get later.

The following day I called the Nation to ascertain if anybody from NIS had called to correct those statements. Since no one has done so, I cannot sit idly by and allow such dangerous misinformation to go unchallenged. Not only is it incorrect; it is irresponsible and has potential for devastating consequences.

A person who is sick could believe this report and decide that he does not want to jeopardise his pension. As a result, he might go to work while being ill and become a danger to himself, his fellow workmen and the public. Just imagine a situation where the driver of a public service vehicle goes to work when he is sick because he does not want to lose out on part of his pension and crashes with a full load of passengers.

From my experience, having worked at NIS, I make bold as to say that a person’s pension would only be negatively impacted if he/she refused or neglected to submit claims for sickness, maternity or unemployment benefits.

Any person who is ill, for a period Monday to Saturday and submits a sickness claim, would be entitled to receive monetary compensation, in addition to a credited contribution. Credited contributions count towards a person’s pension entitlement, even though no actual money is paid into the NIS fund. Section 57.(1) and (2) of the National Insurance and Social Security (Benefit) Regulations, 1967 state:

57.(1) For every contribution week for the whole of which an insured person

(a) received, or would but for regulation 4(1) have received sickness benefit; or

(b) received maternity benefit; or

(c) received, or would but for regulation 46(1) have received, unemployment benefit

a contribution shall be credited to that person without actual payment thereof.

(2) A credited contribution shall, subject to the provisions of these Regulations, be valid for sickness, maternity, unemployment benefit and invalidity benefit and for old age contributory grant or pension and shall be equal to the value of the average weekly earnings on which the rate of sickness, unemployment or maternity benefit was based.

In order to qualify for an NIS pension, a person must have 500 contributions. If someone refused to submit their sickness claim, in the mistaken belief that his/her pension would be affected, that person would lose out on some money to tide him/her over a period when not in receipt of income. But worse yet, that person could fall short in the number of contributions needed to qualify for a pension, since no credits would be available to make up the shortfall.

Regulation 31of the NIS Benefit Regulations demonstrate why it is vital to submit sickness benefit claims and accumulate your credits. It provides that of the 500 contributions needed to qualify for a pension, only 150 must be actually paid; the remaining 350 could be credited contributions.

Some enlightened employers pay their workers the full salary and take the benefit when it is paid. If workers qualify for credits in these circumstance, both the employer and employee are entitled to a refund of the contributions paid. This appears to be a carefully guarded secret, the refund is not automatic, you must apply for it.

The National Insurance Fund is primarily intended to pay benefits to people who are insured under the NIS scheme. It is not intended to provide budgetary support to the Government. If they cannot manage this economy without relying on NIS funds, they are in the wrong jobs.

Not So Fast Justin Robinson!

BU has not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the delayed release by government of the 15th Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Scheme. It is a very important fund- a safety net and lifeline- hence the reason BU has been uncompromising in our calls for transparency in the management of the fund.

The inability of the fund to publish audited financial statements in recent years highlights a level of incompetence that is informed by a separate blog. To be fair to the NIS management the unacceptable situation has straddled both political administrations and mirrors the wider state of public sector poor financial management. See a decade of Auditor General Reports.

In response to the findings recorded in the actuarial review the Chairman of the National Insurance Board Justin Robinson felt duty bound to release a statement to the traditional media. Unfortunately our resident actuary Walter Blackman appears to have been silenced after receiving a ‘pick’ with the government owned and controlled Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). It seems BU will have to forego his analysis of the actuarial review in this forum. We hope not!

BU’s comment on the Chairman’s response is anchored in commonsense. Chairman Justin Robinson admits what we know, the government is unable to earn adequate foreign dollars to effectively and efficiently manage the issue of portfolio diversification i.e. accept the recommendation to reduce local holdings from 75% to 50%.  What his explanation confirms is that the NIS Fund is under threat from the risk of heavy local concentration in the domestic market, especially government paper, an anemic economic performance and concomitant low yield on investment.

The public relations tactic of the Chairman will satisfy the political partisans, however, independent minded Bajans AND vested actors remain unappeased.


Statement from Chairman of the NIS Justin Robinson

NIS Reserves Projected by IMF to be Exhausted in 2037 – UPP Candidate Craig Harewood Muted by VoB

From the left Craig Harewood , UPP and Glyne Murray, VoB moderator

‘The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.’IMF Website

The IMF is one of the leading financial institutions in the world established to support member countries. Barbados became a member in December 1970 and under Stand-By arrangements in October 1982 and 1992 accessed SDR46.35 of SDR55.77 approved. Given the perilous state of the Barbados economy it is no surprise that there is a clamour from many quarters for Barbados to access foreign currency support at concessionary rate given our forex level and junk credit rating.

Our membership in the IMF ensures that we benefit from rigorous monitoring to ensure ‘’policies that are conducive to orderly economic growth and reasonable price stability, avoid manipulating exchange rates for unfair competitive advantage, and to provide the IMF with data about its economy’’. BU must conclude given our interrupted membership in the IMF for forty six years successive government see value in the membership.

In an IMF working paper titled  National Insurance Scheme Reforms in the Caribbean of October 2016 the IMF signalled to several Caribbean countries that with an ageing population, negative to anaemic economic growth, and rising unemployment numbers national insurance funds in the region, projected deficits will deplete assets in the coming years. The following graph extracted from the working paper estimates that on its current trajectory NIS reserves for Barbados will be exhausted by 2037. The reserves represent the excess funds explained as ‘income from contributions and investments that exceed the expenditures on benefits and administration that has accumulated over time’’.

On today’s (21/04/2017) Voice of Barbados talk show United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate Craig Harewood attempted to raise the matter and was bundled off the airwaves by moderator Glyne Murray. By asking the UPP candidate to investigate the assumptions used by the IMF in the working paper to support the projection  that NIS reserves will be exhausted in 2037 in the opinion of BU was unprofessional by host Glyne Murray. Given the importance of the NIS fund to protecting the financial security of senior citizens of Barbados the intervention by Harewood should have been welcomed by the moderator and used to share his vast knowledge as a former minister of government. It is ironic that the Nation newspaper cited the IMF working paper in an article  credited to Gregory Hinkson a former manager of Investments at the NIS Investment and specialist in pension investment analysis titled  Social Security under pressure. Someone should assure Murray that the analysis of the IMF staffers was supported by the 2011 Actuarial Review.

Listen at 17:17 into the recording to hear the exchange between Murray and Harewood.

The management of the NIS fund has been targeted by the BU community over the years –the  burning issue remains the unavailability of recent financials of the fund and the late disclosure of the 15th Actuarial Review as at 2014.  It is instructive under Concluding Remarks on page 18 of the working paper the IMF recommends, ‘’Finally, it is imperative that the authorities begin to build national awareness of the fiscal risk associated with the pension schemes and the need for reforms. At a minimum, the actuarial deficits should be systematically monitored and reported to the public with more frequency and a degree of detail to allow proper evaluation of the fiscal risk’’.

BU suspects Murray needs to understand what exhausted reserves by 2037 means AND VOB should apologize to Harewood by inviting him to make his point without fear of moderator harassment.

When Political and Investment Considerations Intersect to Affect the NIS Fund

In response to an an exchange between David of BU and Hal Austin on the NIS Dumps 21 Million Dollars in Apes Hill Development blog, respected Barbadian actuary Walter Blackman responded with a comment deserving of deep thought and rich discussion by Barbadians everywhere – Barbados Underground

Hal Austin March 31, 2017 at 11:53 AM #

I know it is fashionable to blame individuals, but should we not be blaming the minister, who is ultimately accountable; the chairman of the NIS, Justin Robinson, and members of the investment committee; and the person(s) who carried out the due diligence? In any case, this is not an investment, but a loan. Is the NIS authorised to make commercial loans to private businesses without the approval of parliament?

David March 31, 2017 at 3:29 PM #
Know this is a busy time for you but an opinion on this matter given your expertise would be valued.


I don’t believe that the governance structure of the NIS has undergone any radical change in its 50-year existence, so I will state these pointers from memory, as a means of steering the discussion in the right direction:

The NIS Board is a corporate entity with a corporate seal. It can transact business in its own right. The National Insurance FUND was established under the control and management of the NIS Board. However, when it comes to the fund, there are two instances where the practical power of the Board either intermingles with, or is superseded by ministerial power.

One, the Board with the approval of the Minister responsible for Social Security, may write off sums of money from the fund as losses.

Two, any monies belonging to the fund may be invested by the Board in whatever manner, and in whatever securities, that the Minister responsible for Finance may direct.

The Minister responsible for Social Security, and the Minister responsible for Finance are two political positions which, by nature, tend to put political considerations first. For example, in the realm of extreme probability, whilst a directed NIS investment decision can end up in hundreds of millions of dollars forever being lost, it may provide invaluable political benefits. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars can be written off as losses to the fund, in instances where borrowers have the capacity to repay. Such decisions might prove to be injurious to the fund, but may be calculated to provide excellent political payoffs.

The governance structure does not subject these extreme positions to any “prudent man” rule at the transactional level, so any “blaming” would have to manifest itself in political terms at election time. Of course, this depends on how vigilant or sensitive the electorate is to the management of NIS funds.

In the 2013 general election, our current Minister responsible for Finance, the Hon. Chris Sinckler, would have been subjected to a great amount of “blame” for the millions of NIS funds which were considered to be wasted on ill-fated projects. The electorate held him to be “blameless” and returned him to parliament. It is highly likely that the electorate will return him to parliament when the next general election comes around.

Our current Minister responsible for Social Security, the Hon. Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, is seeking to avenge the political defeat she suffered in 2013. With respect to the NIS fund and any associated problems, her political opponents will be expected to highlight instances, if any, where she injudiciously approved the writing off of monies, owed to the NIS fund, as losses. If they cannot do this, then she must be viewed by the electorate as totally and completely blameless when it comes to any mismanagement of NIS funds.

I tried to keep this comment short and simple whilst simultaneously tackling Hal’s questions. I have also deliberately left some dots to be connected by the more thoughtful and discerning BU readers and bloggers.

NIS Dumps 21 Million Dollars in Apes Hill Development

The National Insurance Board keeps pumping money into the Apes Hill development project. So far the NIS has invested BDS$25.4 MILLION DOLLARS in what can fairly be described as a highly speculative development project. The NIS Directors led by Chairman of the Board Dr. Justin Robinson (who coincidentally sits on the controversial Central Bank Board) must be aware that by continuing to pump public funds into a struggling and speculative private real estate project could compromise our important social security fund. It is well documented the NIS and the Central Bank have been soaking up government domestic debt as a means to fund a struggling economy.

How easy it is to be a ‘Developer’ like the Sir Cows and Maloneys in Barbados especially when you can keep withdrawing from the the NIS ATM.

Read full Document – Request for funding from Apes Hill Development for additional funding

National Insurance Fund: Dr. Justin Robinson an URGENT Update is Required

Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman of the NIS

Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman of the NIS

This space is created to accommodate comments about the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) of Barbados.  The BU household concedes that the management of the NIS as with any social security fund is a complex matter. It is against this background that Barbadians need to hear the technocrats explaining the status of the NIS fund and NOT the politicians.

It is unforgivable that in 2016 the public is not able to (re)view the financials of the NIS fund by clicking on the NIS website. Dr. Justin Robinson on several occasions assured the BU family in this forum that his Board intends to be transparent in its work and a first step is to bring up-to-date audited financials to the public.

The BU household invites Dr. Robinson to provide an update on the fund.

NIS Actuarial Review 2011 – National Discussion Required

The tagline of the National Insurance Scheme is ‘more than a contribution its your life line’. Regrettably the vast majority of Barbadians become concerned about the functioning of the NIS […] Continue reading

Understanding the National Insurance Scheme of Barbados (2) – Risks and issues

Denis Kellman M.P., Minister of Housing

Denis Kellman M.P., Minister of Housing

David September 13, 2015 at 5:07 AM #


Do you want to comment on Minister Denis Kellman’s Facebook status?

Where ever you go, in Barbados you will hear the bright classroom students saying “do not mind the MP for St Lucy, he is also talking foolishness.” […] Continue reading

Another NIS Glitch Affecting the Vulnerable

Submitted by Anthony Davis

NIS Building

NIS Building

It is our money and we want it now. “This is becoming the urgent plea of many Barbadians to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), despite an advertisement appearing in the Press that the department is upgrading its system and claims will be delayed. That is little comfort to four despairing young mothers who turned up at the offices of the SATURDAY SUN when their efforts to get some clarity from the NIS about their maternity benefits did not bear any fruitSaturday Sun

My, my, my!

How much more will this “people-centred Government” humiliate the lower echelons of our society? In the 1960s Jimmy Cliff sang: “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer . . .” This Government is taking us back to the days of slavery – with the difference being that the taxpayers of this country are NOT getting what is theirs. This makes the situation worse, because people have to go cap-in- hand to beg for what is theirs.

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Senior Citizens Affected by National Insurance Glitch and LATE Tax Returns a Possibility

The National Insurance Office wishes to advise customers that a hardware malfunction has severely affected its computer network. As a result, the delivery of all benefits including pensions will be delayed. The NIS technical team has been working consistently to rectify the matter but it is anticipated that it will take about three weeks to correct the problem and restore the network to its full capacity. The National Insurance Office apologises for the inconvenience causedNIS Website (30.09.2014)

The National Insurance  Scheme (NIS) has advised that they have encountered a computer hardware problem and it will take about three weeks (they hope) to mail benefit cheques including pensions. It is unimaginable if the same malfunction were to occur in a private sector company the catastrophic impact it would have on the business.  The cryptic message delivered by the NIS fails to give insight as to the nature of the problem therefore Barbadian taxpayers and those directly impacted by the hardware problem are left to speculate as to how come.

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Understanding the NIS of Barbados (1) – Social Characteristics and Basic Structure

Walter Blackman

Walter Blackman

Modern Barbados is a society which has evolved from a foundation of slavery. Since 1834, up to the present day, the institution of slavery on the island has been replaced by an overt but complex system of prejudice and discrimination based on colour and perceived class.

Putting the “red legs” aside, the perceived lowest class of citizen in Barbados is black in colour. This black colour-lowest class combination is viewed as the sociological pool from which our nation has historically produced its labourers, murderers, thieves, rogues, vagabonds, local prostitutes, and petty criminals, to mention a few categories. With the passage of time, this group has produced almost every type of citizen except the owners of large successful businesses or corporations with the capacity to survive through the ages.

At this end of our social continuum, there are some people who have worked hard to help raise their children and maintain their households and who have assisted significantly in the development of Barbados (e.g. housewives, small vendors, handymen) without ever being officially employed. We can therefore understand and appreciate the need for government to offer this group a helping hand whenever the need arises.

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Concern About the National Insurance Scheme

Submitted by Anthony Davis

Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman of National Insurance Board

Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman of National Insurance Board

The National Insurance Scheme is backlogged with sickness benefit claims. Barbados Today has learned that the backlog is resulting in scores of individuals waiting to receive their sickness benefit payments, some as far back as November. And while it is not clear how much longer those persons will have to wait, it is at this time uncertain if unemployment benefits will also be affected by this wait. NIS PILE UP BACKLOG OF SICKNESS BENEFITS CLAIMS CAUSED BY ‘TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES’ on the back page of “Barbados Today” dated 03 January

My, my, my! Now we have gremlins running about the NIS Department. I wonder how come. I hope that it is not contagious. Can it get any worse?

We have to keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t spread to other departments. Are there really “technical difficulties” being experienced by the department, or they of a pillaging kind? Why did Mrs. Hunt have to pass the buck to the marketing and research department? I would not have thought that such problems would come under the jurisdiction of that department. Is there no specific IT Department? Was she too busy, or was she afraid that Mr. Maddens questions could be too difficult to answer, and therefore evoke one that could be embarrassing to the Government? Was there a directive not to talk to the press on this issue because the Minister of Finance does not have an answer yet? Could it be that the answer is a million-dollar one?

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Numbers Don’t Lie. People do!

We apologize to Walter Blackman for picking up his submission several days lateDavid

Walter Blackman

Walter Blackman

His silver hairs will purchase us a good opinion, and buy men’s voices to commend our deeds.

William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

I make reference to a Nation News article dated November 4, 2013, entitled “Numbers don’t lie” and written by Sanka Price. In that article, Mr. Erskine Griffith is highlighted as a top‐level civil servant who served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance under six Ministers of Finance and five Prime Ministers, dating back from his appointment to the post under Tom Adams to Owen Arthur, under whom he retired as the Director of Finance and Head of the Civil Service in 2000.

Read full submission

NIS Pension Looms Large

Click image to access presentation in PDF

The presentation maybe of interest if we consider the importance of the NIS Scheme’s contribution  to supplementing retirement income.  BU continues to be optimistic that full transparency will engulf the management of the fund to ensure that one day coming soon the audited financials of the NIS Scheme will be made public to encourage the rigour of public scrutiny. It must be part of the checks and balances to encourage resilience and integrity to our most important fund.

Sinckler Says It Is Time To Leverage The NIS Fund To Benefit Barbadians

Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance

It is a sad day when our politicians should be ‘arguing’ about how to spend/invest NIS Funds. Both political parties have borrowed from the NIS Fund. What is in dispute concerns whether the government has been investing NIS Funds in a manner which will NOT compromise minimum yield expectations. Government’s defence to the charge has been that local banks are paying 2.5% on deposits and therefore it is cheaper for the government to use the fund to develop Barbados while paying the fund 7.5%. A win-win situation. Minister Sincker promised that ‘very soon’ he will be outlining how the NIS fund is to be used to develop Barbados.

BU links the rising debate of government’s use of NIS funds to a declining economic performance and the need to maintain public sector employment along with a high level of spend on social services. It is ironic that the debate in parliament today was about a vote for 30 million to prop up the Transport Board. It is a pity the debate was not about the need to make the Transport Board more efficient rather than government’s social obligation to finance public transport.

Barbadians are becoming more concerned by the day about how the NIS should be invested. In a period which leads into a general election, it is inevitable the issue will become immersed in political rhetoric. There is merit  to the suggestion by independents that the NIS Fund should be managed with a measure of separation from central government. Perhaps using the Central Bank as a model?

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NIS Vigil

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

The news that the Barbados Rights Bill is currently being debated in parliament is good news. It is one of many bills which was in danger of being still born. Of interest to BU though is the visibility which a successful reading of the legislation will afford Dr. the Hon. Esther Byer-Suckoo, M.P who is Minister of Labour and Social Security. There is a view that St. George South, the constituency she represents, is a bellwether constituency, one which the government cannot lose if it desires to win a second term. Her fight against Dwight Sutherland, the BLP candidate is already shaping up nicely between the two with deep roots in the constituency.

It is not unfair to suggest that Minister Suckoo has not satisfied legitimate expectations about her performance in the several portfolios she has been give responsibility. Her homage to late Prime Minister David Thompson in parliament suggests she maybe disappointed with her performance as well! Many do not know what to make of her invisibility in the current national debate about the the NIS investment strategy. Besides one statement made in the recent Budget debate which was a general statement she has allowed her male colleagues Messrs Sinckler, Kellman and Sealy to defend the investment strategy of the NIS.

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Was Tony Marshall ‘Hoist With His Own Petard’?

Tony Marshall sacked as Chairman of the NIS Board

Up to a few weeks ago retired banker Tony Marshall was the ‘man’ in Barbados. According to the Systematic Survey he was Starcom’s number one talk show host. Until his 2 year term expired as Chairman of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) last week, he occupied one of the most important positions in Barbados. BU agrees with George Payne MP who suggested in his contribution to the Estimates Debate that the NIS ranks in importance with the Central Bank of Barbados and the Barbados Electoral Boundaries Commission and therefore should operate with independence.  One wonders however if the statement was made based on ‘lodge’ loyalty.

So what happened?

A couple weeks ago Starcom’s David Ellis in response to a public query about Tony Marshall’s absence from hosting the talk show Brasstacks, explained that Tony Marshall will not be returning to the show. It is obvious any decision by Starcom to block its most popular talk show host from the airwaves must have been based on a ‘show-stopper’ issue. CEO of Starcom Vic Fernandes is a man who sees dollars first and Marshall’s absence from Brasstacks and its potential impact on advertising dollars would have weighed heavily in the decision to part ways.

So what happened?

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Qualifying For The Job Of Chairman of The National Insurance Board

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

It is commendable that June Fowler and her group of CLICO policyholders are seeking to recover all funds they have invested in CLICO. One gets the impression that she has placed all responsibility for satisfying policyholders claims on the ‘treasury’. The lawyer for the group – a Mr. Tariq Khan – supports the Fowler’s position by attributing blame to the failure of the Office of Supervisor of Insurance.

One of the issues BU has with their position is what about the rest of us who avoided investing in CLICO’s risky investments and observed the legal doctrine caveat emptor? What is funny is that many of the CLICO investors who bought the disputed Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA)  product had no difficulty making fun at Leroy Parris and his green verbs.

Another issue we have with the claim, what about the rest of Barbados and our ability to survive in the harsh economic environment if government has to shell out three hundred million dollars to settle EFPAs coming due and asset shortfall? Yes in an ideal world we would want investors to be indemnified. This is especially true when culpability can be found in the negligence of the regulator. However no one can fault government’s obligation if it maintains a macro-view. Its primary job must be to manage the national resources for the good of all. Government’s tight cashflow which has persuaded it to violate a court order to pay Al Barrack 70 million is a case in point.

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Prove That NIS Is Sound Before Investing In Four Seasons

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Government was advised, by an actuary, to take steps to protect the National Insurance Fund because they had calculated that the NIS Fund would be in trouble by 2035 if pensions were continued to be paid at the then existing rate. They reasoned that Barbados was an aging society, and with current life expectancy and a declining birth rate that there would be too few persons contributing and too many persons receiving pensions for the scheme to remain viable. The Government had several options to ensure the fund’s viability, and this is what they have done so far:

  1. Increase the pension age with the hope that more people would die before attaining pension age;
  2. Increase contributions;
  3. Change the formula for calculating the pension, resulting in a much smaller pension; and
  4. Give people the opportunity to receive a reduced pension if they applied early, and an enhanced one if they deferred applying for their pension. They guessed that there would be a neutral effect on the fund because the people who opted for early pensions would somehow be offset by the numbers who deferred. Unfortunately, hundreds opted for early pensions and less that 10 deferred as yet according to my information.

The corrective measures clearly show that the NIS Fund is under stress. It is inconceivable that the fund is as healthy as the Minister of Finance is telling the country. For the sake of argument let us assume that the Government is correct in their assertion that the NIS Fund is healthy. Then they must also explain why they thought it necessary to sell off the NIS shares in the Barbados Light & Power Company which were paying handsome dividend yearly, and projected to do so for the foreseeable future. If they needed cash so badly that it forced them to sell off assets, how can they justify the gamble of putting $50 million in the Four Seasons apparent white elephant.

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Do Not Touch Our Blasted NIS Money!

Tony Marshall, Chairman of the NIS Board was summoned by the Prime Minister last week to Government headquarters

The taxpayers of Barbados have risen from their slumber this morning to the report that the NIS Board – headed by retired banker and talk show host Tony Marshall –  has been ‘briefed’ on the Four Seasons project by the Cabinet of Barbados and ‘ordered’ to relook its imminent investment decision. The Four Seasons project stalled when capital markets went soft as a result of the global financial crisis. The decision to work with Professor Avinash Persaud to revitalize the project was steeped with optimism given his reputed international connections. However after many promises that the project would have restarted the government is now seen as the creditor as last resort.

It is evident from commentary on BU and on the ground that Barbadians are very weary of using social security funds to bail the Four Seasons project. The 101 reasoning by many is if the project is as viable as Minister Chris Sinckler and the IDB believe then why is it so difficult to acquire private sector investment?  It was not very long ago in response to an actuarial study the NIS adjusted its pension eligibility as a result of the state of the NIS scheme vis a vis our ageing population. Barbadians have become very sensitive of late about how decisions are being taken about at the NIS. By the way has the CBC repaid that one million dollar loan yet? Did any heads roll as a result of the cockup with mailing old age pension cheques?

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