Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
DELINQUENT employers who owe the National Insurance Board up to $17m in contributions “just ignored” pay agreements and commitments, according to Public Service Minister Brensil Rolle.
He told reporters yesterday outside of Cabinet that despite the agency’s deliberate efforts to recoup the accrued contributions, many of the employers at fault have simply refused to adhere to NIB regulations.
The Garden Hills MP suggested recovery will now target employers owing substantial amounts and defaulted pay agreements with the board. He said the agency will look to prosecute these delinquent employers if balances are not addressed moving forward.
Mr Rolle, the minister with responsibility for NIB, on Monday revealed the agency had paid out more than it earned in revenue in 2018.
He said preliminary unaudited figures showed that contribution revenue intake was $283m for 2018 while expenditure was around $292m.
Faced with a serious shortfall, Mr Rolle said NIB wants to go after large employers and the self-employed who owe between $14m and $17m.
At Cabinet yesterday, Mr Rolle called it “disheartening” that companies and individual employers saw no issue in deducting money from the salaries of employees and not making mandated contributions.
“At the end of the day once they retire they expect to get their benefits and if that benefit is not paid, then we have an issue,” he told reporters. “That is why we are urging all companies and self-employed individuals and others to live up to their responsibility and make the payments to NIB so that we can progress.”
Mr Rolle continued: “With regard to those who owe a substantial amounts of money to the board, we have been in contact with them. Many of them have some agreement with the board to pay, they have just not done it, so we are taking the next step. Absolutely, the next step is to move forward to prosecute these individuals who have not made their payments to NIB or lived up to their commitment or their agreement with NIB to pay.
“We have set up (offices) so that persons can call NIB directly so that they can find out whether payments where made on their behalf, and that is a critical point for staff members and others. We invite them to call NIB so that they can get a trace, or keep track, on monies that are paid on their behalf to the board. And secondly, the whole issue of the question of the moral values of companies and individuals who take your money, deduct it and not pay,” he added.
Mr Rolle indicated that these delinquent companies and individual employers, in some cases, owe contributions in excess of 10 years. He also asserted that the list of companies include “high-class companies” that are “just not doing their jobs.”
He contended: “I think if we are going to succeed as a social security organisation the responsibility must be two-fold: To not only encourage individuals to make their commitment and make payments to NIB. In some cases, like I said, individuals have come, they have made a commitment to pay, they have signed an agreement with NIB to pay and they have still ignored this. And so, that is going to be very critical for all of us. When you get 65 and you go to NIB, you want to make sure you can get your benefit that you have paid for and the company has (deducted for).
“Some companies have owed for at least 10 years. Yes, there are different timelines that companies owe. Again I encourage workers to do two things: One, to make sure your that your monies are deducted by your company. Two, then make sure that they are paid to NIB; and you can call NIB to check and see whether the payments are made on your behalf.”
Mr Rolle again insisted NIB will look to “vigorously pursue businesses, and companies and individuals who are operating,” as it looks to ensure contributions are rendered in a timely fashion.