NIS missing contributions- Data conversion glitch delays records retrieval

-will take two years to rectify
A major glitch in the move by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to convert its data collection from a manual to an electronic system is one of the reasons for its inability to retrieve records for some contributors.

This is according to Chairman of the NIS Board Dr Roger Luncheon, who recently admitted that there has been no commitment to maintaining the records electronically – a process that commenced in 1989. As a result of the “mountain” of manual data that is still to be converted, Luncheon said that the scheme has established a project that would take “conservatively” two years to rectify the problem.

Over the years, many persons have been complaining about NIS not finding records for years of their contributions and on many occasions the scheme has indicated that the problem lies with employers who would submit inaccurate records. Persons have complained that more than 10 years of contributions were missing when they attempted to collect their benefits.

Apologising for the problems caused by the glitch, Luncheon said he took full responsibility for the problem “because much of what took place, or was not addressed [was] during the Luncheon chairmanship.” He added that when the scheme changed from manual to electronic data collection, “the twin track” was preserved, since there was not an absolute and total commitment to maintaining records electronically. He said across the 13 NIS offices countrywide, there is “a virtual mountain of paper records” while there is a smaller mountain of electronic records, neither of which are on the database, from which computations of benefits and pensions take place. “We are really behind the eight ball,” he admitted, adding that he was sorry he was unable to air his concerns on the issue at the NIS’ recent 40th anniversary celebration because of cabinet commitment.  He said that “aggressive actions” are now being undertaken and at the end of the project all records would be posted to the permanent records. “And those who have been suffering and filing appeals and questioning the decisions, their numbers would hopefully decrease to insignificant levels,” he said.

Last December, following numerous letters about missing NIS contribution records, the scheme’s Public Relations Officer Dianne Lewis-Baxter said in a letter that the responsibility for the provision of accurate information on the details of contribution payments being remitted to NIS lies with the employers. “Too many of them have been submitting inaccurate and incomplete contribution schedules which make it difficult to identify the employees on whose behalf they are paying and much time has been spent in revisiting the institutions to clarify these submissions and thereafter have the insured persons’ records properly updated,” she explained. “We encourage employers to ensure that those with the responsibility for preparing the NIS contribution schedules do so with the accuracy, sufficiency and legibility required for the correct postings of these records at NIS,” she had further said.

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