October 14, 2005
PM announces increases for pensioners

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, announced adjustments of National Insurance Services non-contributory assistance age pensions and minimum pensions effective July 1, 2005.

He made this statement at a pensioner’s appreciation day on Monday conducted by the members and staff of the National Insurance Services (NIS).{{more}}

The Prime Minister pointed out that there would be an increase in weekly non-contributory assistance age pensions from $25 to $30 and an increase in weekly minimum pension from $55 to $60. There would be an increase in maternity grants from $500 to $550 and an increase in funeral grants from $3,600 to $3,800.

There would also be increases in general grants to $1,900 for children 10 years and older and $380 for children three0 years and under and increases in non-contributory assistance age pension funeral grant from $1,800 to $1,900 and from $900 to $950 for the spouse. Similar increases would be given to dependant children ranging from $950 for children 10 years and older and $250 for children three years and under.

Funeral grant increase

Dr. Gonsalves also stated that for the first time the employment injury funeral grant would be increased from $3,000 to $3,800.

Effective January 1, 2006, the insurable earnings scaling would be increased from $870 weekly and $3,770 monthly to $1,000 weekly and $4,333 monthly.

Dr. Gonsalves also said that regular pensioners who qualify for more than the minimum pension would receive aggregate increases for 14 weeks. One thousand and eighty three (1,083) regular pensioners would receive in the aggregate a retroactive amount of $93,193. Five hundred and sixty four (564) survivor pensioners would receive a retroactive amount of $17,760.54. Thirty six (36) invalidity pensioners would receive a retroactive amount of $2,884.86. He also promised the pensioners that as long as he remains the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he would make sure that they are treated fairly.

Reginald Thomas, Executive Director of the National Insurance Services (NIS) also gave some brief remarks. In his remarks, he said that National Insurance Services (NIS) is looking to explore new ways by expanding their services to pensioners by building partnerships with corporate St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the various business houses towards ensuring much easier access to the services they require.

Shopping incentives

He said that this co-operation would be done in a way that pensioners could receive incentives while shopping on particular days in and around Kingstown. He also said that they are having discussions with the National Omnibuses Association (NOBA) on ways to introduce hassle free travel.

Lennox Bowman, Chairman of the National Insurance Board (NIB) said that after 18 years of operation, the National Insurance Services (NIS) has generated enough surpluses to offer increases in short term benefits and pensions for the fourth (4th) time in 11 years. This he said was significant and laudable achievement.

He also said that under the defined benefit scheme, members are no longer required to name a beneficiary nor collect a lump sum of money as an age benefit. The National Insurance Services (NIS) now offers fortnightly payments for life so that pensioners can afford to manage their funds and to take care of the basic necessities on a regular and systematic basis. This, he said, would help to alleviate the burden on Government as well.

Presentations of cheques and tokens were also distributed to the pensioners as part of the appreciation day.