JIS News

Story Highlights

  • After 50 years of operation, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) continues to provide valuable social protection for thousands of Jamaicans.
  • With only three services being offered when it began operations in 1966, today the NIS offers up to 14 services, including NI Gold, a health insurance plan which provides medical coverage for all NIS pensioners.
  • The NIS is a compulsory contributory system of social security, offering some financial protection to its contributors and their families against loss of income arising from injury on the job, incapacity, retirement and death.

After 50 years of operation, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) continues to provide valuable social protection for thousands of Jamaicans.

Chief Technical Director, Social Security, at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Dionne Jennings, told JIS News that the Ministry is pleased that the NIS continues to fulfil the mandate for which it was established.

“It enables us to provide social protection for the most vulnerable, offering some financial protection to the contributors and their families against loss of income arising from injury on the job, and others,” she explained.

            Ms. Jennings said that in addition to fulfilling its mandate, the Scheme has had some significant achievements. These include increased services and the automation of pension payments.

            With only three services being offered when it began operations in 1966, today the NIS offers up to 14 services, including NI Gold, a health insurance plan which provides medical coverage for all NIS pensioners.

             Of its achievements, the National Insurance Fund (NIF) remains the greatest, according to the Chief Technical Director.

“The National Insurance Fund has remained a robust fund that continues to increase the opportunity for the payment of the pensioners and that is why we will be looking to ensure its sustainability,” she said.

Ms. Jennings informed that a National Insurance Working Committee has been set up to examine the most recent actuarial report and recommendations from the Auditor General’s Department “to ensure the sustainability of the Fund.”

            The value of the Fund, as at the end of February 2016, was $80.5 billion.

Director of National Insurance, Portia Magnus Darby, told JIS News that the NIS has had to deal with several challenges over the years, including low compliance and antiquated systems.

She pointed out that the Ministry has major plans to be implemented as early as this fiscal year that will modernise the operations of the NIS.

“The plans include the introduction of a new information technology system that will improve the processes that we currently have. We will complete two modules, the registration and the contribution modules, in the early part of the new financial year,” Mrs. Magnus Darby said.

“The other aspects of this system will include the IT system for the payment, compliance and claim component. This integrated approach will improve the operations to ensure less delay in our processing and also in the delivery of our pension payment to our clients,” she added.

            Mrs. Magnus Darby said there will also be a review of the institutional arrangements of the NIS and the Social Security Division of the Ministry to meet the needs of its clients as well as the introduction of a performance management system, to drive productivity and increase service delivery.

In addition, there will be the standardisation of its operation procedure “to ensure that we have a client-friendly system for our customers, both local and overseas …to ensure that we can address their concerns,” she noted.

            Mrs. Magnus Darby said the plans going forward include the modernisation of pension payment and the re-imaging of the National Insurance card.

“We are moving towards direct deposit and as of September our new pensioners have been registered to receive their pension payment by way of direct deposit to their bank account, for the old age and invalidity pension. It is being done on a phased basis,” she said.

Mrs. Magnus Darby said there will be a review of the National Insurance Act (1966) to see “how it can complement current and future operations of the Scheme.”

In the meantime, there will be a number of activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the NIS.

The year-long celebrations will be observed under the theme: ‘A Golden Past, A Gleaming Future: The Journey Continues’. They began on April 4, the actual anniversary date, with a customer appreciation day at several of its parish offices. This will continue throughout the year at different locations.

On Sunday, April 24, beginning at 9:00 a.m., there will be a national church service at the Portmore New Testament Church of God. A newspaper supplement will be published on Sunday, May 1.

The NIS, along with the National Debating Society, will host a debating competition for high schools. In addition, there are plans to have a mobile exhibition across the parishes, starting with the National Library.

The NIS is a compulsory contributory system of social security, offering some financial protection to its contributors and their families against loss of income arising from injury on the job, incapacity, retirement and death.