December 14, 2007
Opposition Leader clapping for NIS move

“I am not playing politics on it; it is too important a matter.”

This was Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace as he discussed government’s planned increase of the contribution requirements for the National Insurance Service (NIS).{{more}}

Eustace said that he agreed that more money had to be put into the NIS, so that 50 to 60 years down the road the service will be able to meet the need for the beneficiaries.

“All of us have to make sure that we play our part to make sure persons receive their pensions,” Eustace said.

He said that it would not be prudent to simply look at the NIS 5- 20 years down the road, but rather on a long-term basis, which makes the increased payments necessary.

“If the rates are too low, you have to do something about it,” he said.

He noted that St Vincent and the Grenadines had one of the lowest contribution rates in the Caribbean, and predicted that one day this country’s contribution rate may have to mirror that of Barbados, which is 7.75 percent for the employee, and 8.5 percent for the employer.

With the new adjustments announced in the budget, employers will now contribute 4.5, up one percent from what exists now, while the employees’ contribution also goes up by one percent to 3.5 percent.

Eustace, however, noted that the NIS investment income needed to be managed better, to ensure that the best possible interest is gained from their investments and loans.

He also suggested that it may become necessary to consider increasing the retirement age from the present day 55 years old, in order to garner more contributions to the NIS.

Eustace, in making his comments, said that it may not be politically correct to support the government’s initiative on this matter, but said he was obligated to present an argument that is in the best interest of the Vincentian people.

He said that he doesn’t view his position as “supporting the government.”

“I am supporting the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines… that’s what I have been put here for,” Eustace said.