I note very seriously the criticisms made by the Ombudsman, Mr. Rajmanlal Joseph, of the National Insurance Board as published in recent media reports.
It is important to note the independent nature of the Ombudsman’s Office and his role in calling state agencies to account.
Many of the criticisms levelled by Ombudsman Joseph resemble the issues which the Opposition and other stakeholders have been raising for the past umpteen years. We are concerned about the failure of the NIB to ensure that employers register and make payments towards their employees’ contributions. The NIB has bred a hoggish, inept culture of utter disregard for complaints from workers contributing to the NIF, and has proven its inefficiency in handling negligent employers who fail to make statutory payments. The State has failed to deal with such employers. I also echo the Ombudsman’s concerns about the length of time in which citizens are subjected to regarding the payment of their claims.
There has been a longstanding lack of awareness among citizens of Trinidad and Tobago regarding their rights concerning such matters. Like the Ombudsman, I also urge citizens to remember and utilize the appeal process in which citizens have six months to a year to appeal the actions of the NIB.
It is unfathomable that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have done absolutely nothing to address the longstanding issues at the NIB over their 7 years in office. In the face of this Government’s inaction on the NIB, it is a grave injustice that citizens of this country are now being whipped into working until 65 and into paying higher contributions. It is because of this PNM Government’s failure to deal with the NIB that citizens must now pay the price for the Prime Minister’s laziness and Colm Imbert’s grinning incompetence. The PNM continues to view the working class as ‘cash cows’.
The economy has been shrinking. Businesses are closing, crime, inflation, unemployment, electricity rates and property tax are on the rise, and workers are struggling to stay afloat.
It is because of the wicked PNM Government that the NIB is in trouble.
I call on all workers to reject the increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65 and reclaim their lives from the nasty and evil PNM Government, and I commend the Ombudsman for his courageous stand on these matters. Enough is enough.
Member of Parliament for Couva South and SHADOW RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR and TOBAGO AFFAIRS.