NIS inspector faces disciplinary action over concerns raised at consultation

A National Insurance Scheme (NIS) inspector is being disciplined after he raised concerns at a recent public consultation on the eighth actuarial report and there are claims that similar action was not taken against at least one other employee who made comments at the forum.

Stabroek News understands that Mervyn Williams was last Thursday summoned to the office of the assistant general manager of administration where he was being charged with releasing internal information at a public forum without permission. The consultation was held at the NIS’s Brickdam office on December 11.

This disciplinary action could result in either the termination of employment or suspension without pay.

Efforts to contact senior NIS officials yesterday afternoon were futile.

When Stabroek News made contact with Williams he declined to offer a comment on the issue, stating that it was an internal matter.

A source close to Williams told this newspaper yesterday that during the consultations he (Williams) made comments about medical care not being financed directly by contributions even though medical care is a significant expense to the NIS fund; the conditions under which NIS inspectors have to work and the need for a system of taxation across the board to be addressed.

The source said that prior to Williams’s arrival at least one other employee spoke.

However, no disciplinary action has been taken against that person, raising questions as to why Williams has been singled out, the source said. According to the source, it is unfair that Williams is being targeted for speaking out.

The actuarial report, done by consultants Horizon, noted that in 2011, NIS experienced its first ever deficit in its 42-year history of $371 million.

A larger deficit is envisaged this year and the report said that with assets of just over two times its annual expenditure, the “entire Fund will be exhausted in less than 10 years if (the) contribution rate increases and benefit reforms are not made immediately.”

The report has urged the raising of the contribution rate from 13% to 15% no later than January next year, hiking the wage ceiling to $200,000 per month and a phased raising of the pension age from 60 to 65 to keep the scheme afloat.

It was also highlighted that no remedial action had been taken since 2008, when the 7th actuarial review had proposed a number of reforms. In addition, a NIS reform committee appointed by the government had made reform recommendations in 2007 but there was no meaningful change.

Three consultations were held by the scheme at which stakeholders made recommendations and spoke on issues that were affecting them as relates to NIS matters.

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