By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
Minister of the Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle has promised investigations will be conducted into claims some Freeport employers have deducted but failed to pay to NIB contributions on behalf of their employees.
This was one of the many concerns raised by residents attending a Marco City town meeting on National Insurance and public service matters hosted by area MP Michael Pintard at the Bahamas Union of Teachers Hall on Thursday evening.
“Your (NIB) inspectors are falling on the job,” one resident complained to Mr Rolle and senior managers.
The individual also alleged that when employees make complaints against their employers about matters in confidence, NIB staff would secretly inform employers of the complainant’s name.
Some other issues included claims of discrepancies in NIB benefits such as monthly pension, sickness benefit and survivor benefit.
Mr Rolle stated that NIB would be taking steps to verify claims about employers’ non-payment of employee contributions. “They (the residents) gave us some names of some individuals in the community collecting contributions but not forwarding those onto NIB, and it is our duty now to investigate that to make sure that it is so and to put inspectors on the streets in the community…” he told The Tribune.
He stressed paying contributions is critical to NIB and employees because whatever contributions are put in, that is what employees will get out. “If there is no record of individuals who are honest and put in contributions, and sometimes contributions are deducted from those individuals, at the end of the day NIB cannot offer them the benefits. That is critical, and that’s why we are trying to get this message out,” he stated.
“We will inspect, and we made the whole issue of ensuring we collect from revenues and wages of workers. Our goal is to provide service to individuals, and the critical point is what you put in, you get out. “
When asked about complaints regarding lack of confidentiality by NIB staff, Mr Rolle stated that maintaining confidentiality is very important. “It is related to our whole mission on training and development. Persons have to begin to realise how important it is to work in confidence. We made a commitment tonight, and we will take it on the road, and we will make sure that all individuals of all the islands are aware of these kinds of issues,” he said.
Mr Rolle said traveling to Freeport to hear from residents was an excellent opportunity for NIB to answer questions directly. “We heard about issues relating to claims and benefits, and we were able to put the word out on contributions. This was an awesome exercise where people had to the ability to express themselves clearly, and we gave our commitment to provide them with answers to their questions,” he said.
For his part, Mr Pintard said that he decided to hold the town meeting because of the many issues that were recorded following his meetings with constituents each month. “Each time we talk and meet with constituents we create a template the issues they have, and we forward those to each of the ministers or government departments,” he explained.
“So because of the amount of National Insurance and public personnel issues we thought it was critical to have Mr Brensil Rolle, and senior managers form NIB and public personnel come to address specific questions that hundreds of residents have in GB,” he said.
Mr Pintard, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, intends to hold similar town meetings with other ministers in his constituency.
Frankie Campbell, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, was present but will return on another occasion to address matters about his ministry.