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Joseph Remy

JOEL JULIEN

Stop politicising the situation at the National Insurance Board (NIB) because you are playing with people’s lives.

This was the admonition given by president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisation (FITUN) Joseph Remy to politicians on both side of the Parliament.

“The NIB is not in crisis. And I just want to make a statement here. You know I don’t like how we politicise these things, these are sensitive things that impact on people’s livelihood and when the opposition leader can make a statement to say the plan is insolvent, it will throw people into a state of panic and place the NIB in a very precarious situation and I think the politicians need to be mindful.

“Even the minister of finance has to be careful of making statements ill-advised, ill-timed about the status of the NIB, without us engaging in the right form of discussions that will allow the citizenry to feel comforted in the knowledge that the plan is not going to die tomorrow morning and that if we don’t take corrective action then we can fix it going forward,” Remy said.

Remy made the statement as he participated in a discussion with leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdulah titled Pensions at Risk.

Abdulah said that while the NIB’s investment income has been decreasing over the past three years and contributions have remained flat, its benefit payments have been increasing.

This has resulted in the NIB accessing it principal funds, Abdulah said.

“The NIB is not getting enough money from contributions and investments to pay all of the benefits that have to be paid. It therefore means it has to withdraw some money now from the principal amount and if this continues, the size of the fund will get smaller even as the number of persons who have retired is getting larger,” Abdulah said.

“The average worker’s pension is at risk because if you look at the investment environment and all the other environmental factors that impact on pension systems…we have to be real and encourage persons to be healthy.

“That means they live longer and if we are doing that, we have to find the avenues to ensure that those persons who are leaving our tertiary education system should find sustainable employment opportunities, so that the balance will be maintained in terms of those persons who contribute and those who sustain the plan and, those persons who would have contributed in the past and are now the recipients of a pension,” Remy said.

“The MSJ’s position is that we say that everyone must be able to live a life with dignity and our senior citizens because a society is judged by how it treats its elders, our senior citizens must not be living in poverty when they worked and contributed to the development of this country,” Abdulah stated.