I have noted the practice of the Stabroek News to continue to quote anonymous “NIS senior officials” in its attempt to report on the Scheme and its management.
In its latest such example reported in the Friday, April 30 edition, (‘Labour ministry, trade unions urged to take on delinquent employers’ Stabroek Business) Stabroek News would have us believe that an unnamed “senior” officer of the scheme had provided gross criticism of the recent statements made by a government minister and trade union official [Minister Manzoor Nadir; GLU General Secretary Carvil Duncan] about the welfare of employees.
First, as Chairman of the Board, I would advise Stabroek News and its readers that the Stabroek News report is totally at odds with the position of the Board and management on that issue. Indeed, in the absence of a named source who should be of an appropriate status and/or a refusal of the Board/Management to respond to a request from SN to comment, one is left to no other explanation than that Stabroek News is up to monkey’s business.
Why else would Stabroek News report a view, presumably from some NIS staff, without offering an opportunity to the Board to comment on the original matter or even to comment on the view of its undisclosed NIS source?
Who would the SN ordinarily approach to speak on behalf of the NIS in such matters?
Surely it ought not to be the Stabroek News’ undisclosed source.
Secondly, the NIS Board and management must record its support for the statements made by the minister and trade union official.
Roger F. Luncheon
Chairman of the Board,
National Insurance Scheme
Since what both Minister Nadir and Mr Duncan had to say on health and safety in the workplace appears to have been largely uncontroversial, it hardly required an official comment from NIS. The anonymous NIS source who was quoted had a different perspective on the issue, which was considered worthy of placing in the public domain for discussion purposes. As is clear from Dr Luncheon’s letter above, the official in question would hardly have been encouraged to represent his position to the Board, and neither would he have been given permission to make it public. Our understanding is that all decisions are funnelled up to the Chairman and directors; for example, our reporter was told only yesterday by Dr Luncheon that all queries about NIS had to be directed to the Board.
We should also say that for some time now it has been virtually impossible to get any on the record comment or response on anything at all from the senior echelons of NIS. Our reporter mentioned above was asked to submit some questions she had about the Scheme in writing, which she did. That was about five weeks ago, and there has been no response, despite enquiries.
It might be added that there was a time when any queries or complaints which came to us about NIS via letters from the public, and which we forwarded to the Scheme for comment, were invariably answered. Not so any more.
We have one letter which we did not publish prior to securing a comment from NIS, which was forwarded on January 26 this year; it has been ignored.