EDITORIAL: Kicking the can again over NIB

ANOTHER year is coming to an end with no resolution to the thorny problem of what to do about our diminishing National Insurance Board fund.

This year alone, the fund is on course to lose about $70m from the pot.

Myles LaRoda, the Minister of State with responsibility for NIB, has been quite forthright about the situation the fund faces.

He said: “The fund is no better, or no worse than the last time we spoke. The government is going to have to make a decision in the upcoming year as to what its position is going to be as we move forward as it relates to the increase. I think the fund is on pace to lose around $70m plus this year, that’s about $6m a month.”

He added: “In the upcoming year, even though there’s no projected improvement in revenues, it’s still not gonna make up that black hole so notwithstanding the economy just opening up and businesses may be doing a bit better, there is still tough times in our community, but that decision will have to be made and it’s being considered.”

Mr LaRoda has spoken a number of times about the situation faced by NIB. Back in July, he confirmed total payouts exceeded contributions and investment combined every year since 2016.

In other words, the fund has been digging into its reserves, every year, and those reserves keep getting smaller.

The options are to cut costs, raise revenue, or a bit of both. One of those ways of raising revenues would be to increase the contribution rate, as recommended by the 11th actuarial review of the National Insurance Board. It suggested a two percent increase, and continued increases every two years until 2036.

It also warned that without any kind of action the fund could be depleted by 2028.

Also back in July, government press secretary Clint Watson dismissed any plan to tax Bahamians to save NIB and said that taxing was “the lazy way out”.

He claimed the government was finding other ways to fund NIB. However, as this column noted back then, there was no such funding detailed in the Budget. Mr Watson has not as yet announced any of these supposed other ways of funding NIB – and the hole has just kept on getting bigger.

In this column, we talked of the need for bold decisions – one way or another.

Whatever the plan is – if there is indeed a plan – it needs to be put into action. We had six years left to do something about it. Six months later, all we have done is kept the wheels spinning without changing the course we are on.

This is a long-running problem – made only worse by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased payouts made as people lost jobs as the economy shut down.

But it is also an indicator of a failure to grasp the nettle on a number of issues facing the government. It is easy to rattle off a few – the issue of crime, where the police commissioner is talking about taking policing to “another level” next year, well, why didn’t we do that this year as the murder total spiralled? How about issues such as marijuana legislation or marital rape legislation or gender equality, which like a decision on NIB seem to be so many cans being kicked down the road?

Some of this is simply down to good governance – and FNM leader Michael Pintard and National Security Minister Wayne Munroe almost find common ground on that in today’s Tribune if you squint hard enough.

Mr Pintard is calling on the government to focus on good governance, while Mr Munroe is talking about changing small details to streamline the courts and speed up criminal cases. That’s actually some of the good governance Mr Pintard ought to recognise.

One of the most notable parts of that would be to speed up firearms trials – and that might help play a part in getting guns off our streets.

Both men of course in our partisan world shroud their comments in criticism of the other side, so we must not be too hopeful of a joining of hands to tackle issues together.

But one key thing that Mr Pintard says lingers. He calls for “a plan of action” to fuel economic growth and development.

He would do just as well to drop the rest of the words after action. Action is what is needed.

Is there a plan for NIB? Execute it.

Are there policies the government wishes to bring on issues? Bring them to the House – they have the votes if the party’s MPs support their leadership.

Or will we see a plan of inaction? We are tired of hearing the sound of cans rattling on down the road. A new year is a time for change. And when it comes to NIB, without change, we are running out of time itself.


birdiestrachan 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Mr, Pintard does not even know what good governance is he is just talking an empty barrel making noise He should stop with the bread basket items flour cooking oil , MR, PINTARD HAS TO KNOW THAT THE BAHAMAS IS BETTER OF NOW THAN WHEN HIS PARTY WAS IN POWER AND HE CAN NOT STAND IT


sheeprunner12 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We need the USA courts to come here and recover our NIB funds that have been pilfered since the 1970s .................. Billions (just like FTX)

This country is really been run like a tuckshop.

How can these politicians and their cronies fix their mouth to tell Bahamaians to pay more NIB when they have wasted the billions made over the past four decades and do not want to account for the "investments"?????

Increasing rates and the retirement age will not solve the mismanagement and pilferage at NIB. Ingraham and the other PMs used NIB money to further their political leverage and increasing the "welfare state". It is time that the NIB largesse be cut back to save it for generations.


ceemoss 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While we criticize persons, the country is on a slow decline to social death! NIB is what a lot of people have contributed with the expectation of a social safety net later on in life. Because of bad decisions by ALL governments, this is were we are. Who will pick up the mantle and fix it? we shall see! no amount of bashing and bad mouthing will do! GET THE LEAD OUT AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!!!


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