National Insurance Scheme
I write on behalf of all the persons who have been contributors to the National Insurance Scheme since its inception in 1983, and who are now being faced with the possibility of having their retirement ages increased from 60 to 65.
The National Insurance Scheme has stated that the pension fund is being depleted due to the fact that fewer people are contributing toward the scheme and that persons are living for longer than they did previously.
The former reason is understandable since unemployment is exceptionally high and continues to increase and also more young persons are seeking University Education and as a result are commencing their working life at a later age.
The latter reason is beyond my comprehension, in viewing the death news we see so many young people dying of many diseases that were not as rampant 20 years ago.
The scheme’s management says that in order to sustain the scheme the ceiling and the retirement age have to be increased. Increasing the ceiling is one option, but why should someone who has contributed to the scheme for 29 years and has approximately 5 more years before retirement be forced to work for an additional five years?
I believe that the solution should not be to penalise persons close to retirement but to have a closed off period. For example persons with less than 10 years to retirement or person who have exceeded the minimum number of payments to qualify for a pension by a certain number of years e.g. 10 years should be allowed to retire their premiums rather than their retirement age.
The management of the National Insurance Scheme needs to provide an update to the contributors on what is being done to recover funds which were deposited with Colonial Life Insurance Company and to explain why the company decided to invest in such high risk investments.
They also need to advise contributors how much of our funds is being loaned to the Government of Grenada, what kind of repayment arrangements have been agreed and how are these loans being secured.
In addition, the management of the National Insurance Scheme needs to explain to the contributors why they have decided to erect a new office building. We need to know how this building is being financed; the National Insurance Scheme is funded by our contributions, so are our contributions being used to fund this new building?
If this is so, funds invested in an office cannot yield a return on investment. Why then are we being asked to contribute more and for a longer period?
It is my understanding that the existing building will be rented out, but in the current economic climate, is this decision a wise one? Many of the units in the Bruce Street Mall and the Cruise terminal are vacant because of the absence of new business and the financial constraints of the existing businesses.
The National Insurance Scheme car park currently accommodates approximately 150 vehicles. If the monthly fee is increased to $100.00 monthly, income will be $15,000.00 with no overheads or maintenance costs.
Additionally, these 150 vehicle owners will be forced to find an alternative parking which will ultimately increase the traffic congestion in St. George’s.
The Management of the National Insurance Scheme needs to provide answers to the concerns of the public and re-assure us that our pensions are safe and secure.