NIS needs a system for handling queries from the general public

Dear Editor,

Kindly allow me some space in your newspaper’s’ letter section to bring to notice, and hopefully, provide some guidance to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) on their woeful ineptitude when dealing with queries from the general public.

I am not generalizing on one incident but have repeatedly noticed and experienced the trend I am about to describe from various Governmental and private sector agencies.

I had visited the NIS local office, located at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast, late in May last to query late/non-payment of pension, via a banking entity, for June 2018, when I was advised that none was made and that I should “wait a while”.

After waiting I checked with the bank on June 13 I discovered that the situation was unchanged.

I revisited the office on the same date to query what may be the problem so that it may be avoided in future if it was on my part. I was told that payment was made to the bank on May 30 and that I should “wait a bit more”. Not satisfied with the response, I asked to see someone senior but I was told that no one else could help me. I then asked for a person and number at the Head Office whom I could possibly speak with. I was given four numbers – 225-2793 to 5 and 225-2797 – and the staff there were described as the pension people.

I tried calling the four numbers in rotation after lunch and finally succeeded in reaching someone on 225-2797 on the third round of dialing. After explaining the purpose of my visit I was passed on to someone else to whom I had to repeat myself. I was again passed onto someone else who asked what I was “fretting about”, and, amazingly, I was passed onto another person to whom I was again asked to repeat my purpose for calling. My phone credit by then was exhausted and I made no further attempt to call and contented myself to a further wait. I rechecked my bank balance on June 18 and still no money was in my account.

I waited another week and rechecked on June 25, up to which time the condition remained the same.

Please don’t take me as being overbearing but I believe that agencies serving the state can do better when handling questions from the population. In this case it would have been more productive if the local office had followed-up on my query instead of leaving me “on my own”.

Secondly, I am certain that a better system could be in place for handling queries via telephone. Why could one of the three salaried officers to whom I had outlined my case not take my query, follow-up and call me on the results? I often hear public officers say that “it is in your interest to find out”, which often entails extensive travelling, while they adopt a recalcitrant attitude towards any query, when in fact it should be their duty to handle such queries. As a people we have too long been quiet and docile when it comes to claiming services from publicly-funded and other agencies.  The authorities have been treating people with gross disrespect for too long.

In closing, I wish to reiterate that the intention of this letter is mainly to prompt erring agencies to get their acts together and to encourage people to be more open about obstacles encountered so that at least the authorities would know that the population is not as gullible as they think.

Yours faithfully

Charles Gregory