FORMER Public Service Minister Brensil Rolle. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
FORMER Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said the Minnis administration had suspended pension payments to nearly 10,000 people who failed to verify if they were alive.
Myles Laroda, the state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the National Insurance Board, told reporters on Wednesday that all but 850 of those people have since been reinstated to pension payrolls.
“NIB regulations say individuals receiving these benefits must verify twice annually,” Mr Rolle said yesterday. “We relaxed that because of COVID-19 and last December we determined that okay what we are going to do is stretch the verification process out over two sessions so all those persons who are not verified would have an opportunity over March of this year and July of this year and we began that process of verifying individuals.
“The reason why verification is critical and important is because if someone is receiving pensions and we’re just printing pensions and sending it to them, they may die. And if they are dead they’re not entitled to pensions. Alternatively, their life condition may change. Like me, I was between 2012 and 2017 pensionable at NIB but when I got the job in 2017 my pension at NIB stopped.
“So your life condition may change so that you’re given an opportunity to verify so NIB could check and confirm that either you’re not dead or your life condition has not changed so you are still entitled to the benefit. The pension package from NIB may be $7m. If 50 persons die, it means those persons don’t qualify to continue getting cheques. If they get the cheque it may be difficult for NIB to get the monies back. That’s why it’s so critical for NIB to verify.
“We made the verification process very easy. We said to them you could verify via a justice of the peace, you could use your pastor to verify you or a senior member in the community that is known. You didn’t have to physically come to NIB to complete the process as was the practice before COVID-19.”