The National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) Board of Directors is considering the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) proposed plan to liquidate its debt to the scheme.
The state-owned sugar corporation, which has been delinquent in employees’ contributions to the tune of over $1.5 billion, continues to benefit from a softly-softly approach from the NIS. In January, the NIS agreed to honour contributors’ claims after GuySuCo submitted a payment schedule. In a statement GuySuCo pledged that worker benefits would not be in danger owing to the delinquency in payment. However this has long been an issue as workers have complained of this very real situation. There was no response to questions from this newspaper as to why NIS has not taken legal action against GuySuCo. Instead, in an email, NIS’s Public Relations Officer Dianne Lewis-Baxter said: “The National Insurance Scheme’s strategy to deal with such delinquent employers and self-employed persons includes demand notices, prosecution and agreements to pay in instalments.”
In October, NIS General Manger Doreen Nelson said the projected deficit for the year was $713 million. She noted that deficits persist because of the lack of compliance. It was revealed in July by then chief operations officer of GuySuCo Paul Bhim that the sugar corporation had failed to make $729 million in payments for four months.
More alarming was that GuySuCo has not been required to pay the interest that is supposed to be surcharged.
The NIS has prosecuted small businesses, while allowing one of Guyana’s largest employers, with over 16,000 employees, to remain negligent in payments. Stabroek News had asked the NIS what message this sends to smaller businesses; there has been no response.