Have zero tolerance for disrespect and inefficiency – Finance Minister tells NIS’ management

as Scheme observes 52nd anniversary

The recent level of service by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), has come in for praise by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, who has however, warned that such service must be given to beneficiaries at all times.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, MP

“That quality of service must be provided at all times, starting now, and my instructions to the board and to the management are that they are to have a zero-tolerance attitude to discourtesy, disrespect, inefficiency. They are to have a zero-tolerance attitude,” Minister Singh stressed.

The Minister was at the time delivering an address at the Scheme’s 52nd anniversary ceremonyat the Patrick Martinborough Multipurpose Complex, Carifesta Avenue on Wednesday.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, MP, presents General Manager of the National Insurance Scheme, Holly Greaves with a service award for being with the Scheme for 40 years.

Alluding to one rare case of subpar service, Dr. Singh said “Put yourself in the shoes of a pensioner who has waited 25 years to collect his pension book.”

“When you get to age 60, if you are no longer employed, for many, many people, this is their only source of income, of financial support on the basis of which they live. Imagine causing such a person, quite a few of the others have been waiting two years, three years, how are these people supposed to live without getting their pension?”

The Scheme has been working to clear a significant backlog in cases, including hosting outreaches across the country, led by Dr. Singh himself.

Staffers of the National Insurance Scheme

Even as he called for improvements in the quality of service, the minister also commended the NIS for generally providing exemplary service to the majority of its contributors and pensioners.

“But for every one transaction that takes longer than it should, hundreds, if not thousands of transactions are silently being processed and processed to the satisfaction of contributors and pensioners.”

Dr. Singh added, “To the thousands of people who get their pension reliably every month, you don’t hear those stories. You have, what, about 60,000 persons who get their pension reliably every month. You don’t hear 60,000 voices saying ‘I received my pension on time this month’.”

Chair of the NIS Board, Ramesh Persaud, brought the numbers, demonstrating the good work that is being done by the Scheme.

Chairman of the Board of the National Insurance Scheme, Ramesh Persaud

“It’s amazing the kind of work that NIS does on a monthly basis. We currently pay 60,000 pensioners monthly. We process approximately 10,000 short-term claims. If we were to convert that annually, that’s 720,000 pension vouchers we process annually, probably more, alright. And 120,000 short-term claims and vouchers on an annual basis. So, round of applause to all of you who toiled day and night sometimes in ensuring that those numbers are achieved.”

NIS’ General Manager, Holly Greaves said the scheme will employ the use of modern technologies to constantly improve and perfect the provision of its services.

“What started as a modest social security institution on the 29th of September, 1969 is currently recognized as the main social security provider to the people of Guyana. We have managed over the 52 years to build an institution on which many persons who live in our country and even some who reside abroad, have grown to depend on for assistance.

General Manager of the National Insurance Scheme, Holly Greaves

“We will continue to reaffirm our commitment to provide the best service to our contributors and pensioners.”

Minister Singh also had a stern message for employers who fail to pay their employees’ contributions to the National Insurance Scheme, noting that it is a legal obligation to do so.

“It’s not something that is negotiable. It is not a favour. It is not an act of benevolence. It is a legal obligation. It’s part of the law governing employment and the terms and conditions of people in Guyana. And I’m urging all employers out there to ensure that you bring yourselves in order immediately.”

Staffers of the National Insurance Scheme

During one segment of the ceremony, NIS gave service awards to employees who reached 20, 30 and 40 years of service, and recognised persons who recently retired. NIS also handed out pension books to some pensioners who waited years to receive them.