I believe the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is staring down the proverbial ‘barrel of a loaded gun’ unless there is urgent, combined action by multiple agencies to stop the sustained theft of contributions to the scheme.
Year after year, the NIS put out a torrent of talk about going after defaulters and thieves. But for decades, the NIS has proved that it lacks both the quantity and quality of personnel to go after these criminals, and its Manage-ment has not yet come up with any new, innovative strategies to offset this.
The simple fact is that the NIS is incapable of dealing with this problem by itself. That is why it is important for Government to help the NIS by activating all State agencies with the resources to help the NIS to go after the criminals who are defrauding the scheme, such as the police fraud squad or even SARA or SOCU.
I do not hold the Government of the day responsible; this has been going on for decades across several administrations. However, this Government has the opportunity to make its mark by giving NIS full State support as it takes the fight against those who are gouging out the funds.
NIS needs this level of Government support because it is not an ordinary public agency. It has enormous national importance as the sole provider of social security for citizens.
It is imperative that Government amends laws or enacts new laws to strengthen the remittances and enforcement arms of the NIS and introduce stiffer penalties that would be powerful deterrents to those who are currently defrauding the scheme or contemplating doing so.
I am calling for laws that allow NIS defaulters and defrauders to be prosecuted like drug traffickers. I want to see laws put in place that enable NIS to seize these criminals’ assets.
Harsh measures are necessary because this is a very serious matter. The entire country is in jeopardy. Countless citizens who faithfully paid the required contributions of their hard-earned dollars to the NIS are in danger of losing all their social security benefits.
Theft from the NIS has far-reaching, severe consequences. It cuts the scheme’s capacity to expand social security coverage and, even worse, stolen or short-paid contributions can reduce old-age, sickness, injury or maternity entitlements, or even disqualify persons from getting their rightful entitlements.
Stealing NIS contributions from contributors who are old, sick, injured or pregnant, can force them to endure financial and other hardships, such as being unable to afford the quality of medical treatment they need, and in some cases, people can lose their lives.
I have written many letters warning about this grave danger, but to no avail. I have given facts about persons known to me who are defrauding NIS; I have given the public information, without violating the libel laws, that can help to identify these vagabonds, but to no avail.
I call on all patriots who are fed up with the atrocious theft of NIS funds to raise their voices with mine to put pressure on the NIS Board and Government to enact proper legislation to get tough with NIS thieves who are destabilising social security, jeopardising the economy and endangering citizens’ lives.
Roshan Khan Snr