Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
THE government has not yet made a decision on whether National Insurance Board contribution rates will increase, Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said yesterday.
“I can’t say that directly (that there’s going to be an increase in NIB) because what has happened now is an audit is being done and it is not yet been released,” he told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday.
“I have not had an opportunity to speak to my colleagues about it so I cannot tell you that it’s going to increase.
“There was a preliminary report that suggested that there needs to be an increase, but that has happened every year since probably five years ago, but that is a decision that will be made by the government.”
His comments to the press came days after NIB chairman Troy Smith told a local media outlet he expected NIB’s actuarial audit, once complete, to provide recommendations to the government that contribution rates will have to be increased.
Speaking on the matter yesterday, Mr Rolle could not say whether the government plans to follow these expected recommendations. However, he also did not dismiss the possibility of NIB rates increasing in the future.
“The critical issue is what benefits you want to get and if the actuaries are saying that the fund is going to run out or the fund is going to have some issues and then that possibility exists,” he added.
“But again, I don’t want to jump the gun because I have not seen the report and I cannot say anything about that until the government has had the opportunity to look at it.
“...We’ve got to carefully consider what benefits we’re offering and the benefits are related to what contributions are made.”
According to Mr Rolle, the audit is expected to be completed within the “next two or three months”.
Asked how secure the NIB fund is, the minister replied: “…Well, you have got to take into context that two of our major pillars are now down – Abaco and Grand Bahama —and therefore, contributions will decrease significantly because of the impact of the hurricane on the fund.
“And the fact that scores of individuals will not be contributing to the fund and we have to pay out these benefits (like) unemployment assistance etc to individuals impacted by the storm.”