Minister of Finance Colm Imbert makes a statement during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

National Insurance Board management has been called upon to explain why it did not inform NIB’s Board of a non-authorisation directive given by the Finance Ministry in March 2011 concerning a collective agreement.

If the wage increase contemplated by the agreement was in the public sector, it would cost $7 billion and cause tremendous expense for taxpayers .

Finance Minister Colm Imbert spoke on the matter in the Senate yesterday. This, after Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s query on when all outstanding arrears arising out of a recently concluded collective agreement between the PSA and the NIB would be paid.

Imbert said it was a complicated matter since the agreement wasn’t authorised by the ministerial committee established to monitor conduct of wages/salary negotiations .

The agreement wasn’t authorised as required by the directions given by the Finance Minister through the permanent secretary of Finance to the NIB chairman on March 25 , 2011, under the former administration. It was thus, at variance with the NIS Act (Section 9 ./32-1)

It was noted the consequences of the agreement are also far reaching and could result in tremendous expense for taxpayers if used as a precedent. Accordingly, the Finance Ministry is seeking advice on the matter.

So far the ministry’s investigations indicate that NIB management did not inform the Board of the March 25, 2011 ministerial directive.

The management is now being called on to explain why the letter from the then –Finance Minister wasn’t made known to the Board . The Act’s Section 9 required NIB to comply with the Finance Minister’s directions and these directions given in 2011 were never rescinded and remained in force.

“This is an active investigation on going and I expect a report in due course,” Imbert said.

On whether Government would consider settling with the players , Imbert reiterated it has far reaching consequences for the taxpayers and if that wage increase contemplated by the agreement was in the public sector it would cost $7 billion which was why he was seeking advice .