City Hall owes the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in excess of $206 million, NIS Debt Recovery Manager, Louise Bryant told the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the city yesterday at the Critchlow Labour College.
Day 14 of the CoI into the administration and operations of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) saw the lone commissioner, retired Justice Cecil Kennard listening to testimony from Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, Solid Waste Director Walter Narine and the NIS.
During her testimony Bryant presented to the CoI a series of documents which included a debt statement for the council as well as demand notices issued to council for the period September 1994 to August 2018.
She noted that while some payments have been made during that time a large sum still remains outstanding.
“They had payments made but for some period interest payments were not made and for some periods part payments would’ve been made but by and large there remain outstanding monies for this period,” Bryant told the CoI.
She identified that over this 24-year period full payments to the scheme were not made during the periods May to November 2009, September to November 2016, February to May 2017, April to December 2017, March 2018 , April to June 2018 and July to August 2018. All but the first of these periods occurred during the tenure of the current Council and Administration.
Additionally for the entire period September 1994 to August 2018 direct payments were made but no payments were made to offset interest and penalties accrued for late payments.
NIS affixes a penalty of 25% to contributions not remitted by the 15 of each month this penalty and the principal then attracts a 15% interest for each month the sum remains unpaid.
According to Bryant this information was contained in a letter to the Local Government Commission from the Assistant General Manager with regards to monies owed the scheme.
The City Administration first admitted in January of this year that though they had been deducting monies from employees’ salaries they had not remitted hundreds of millions to the NIS, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the public service credit union.
City Treasurer Ron McCalmon in February elaborated on the issue claiming that Council’s “intensified” two-year-campaign to “sustainably restore and develop” the city is what has resulted in the delay of the payments.
McCalmon further related that the Council owed the credit union $36 million and the NIS $134 million ($116 million before interest). He had claimed that council had reached an agreement with NIS as to a repayment schedule and would be seeking to do the same with the GRA.
“So the agreement that we would have met with is that we keep the current payment up to date as well as make those arrears payments so that it could be liquidated. The agreement is that on last Friday we would have paid $10,399,000 over to NIS, which is the current payment, and we’re in the process of preparing payments that is between $5-7 million every month so that that outstanding amount can be liquidated,” McCalmon had stated.
He had further related that Council had made a payment of $11 million to the Credit Union.