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The National Insurance Scheme (NIS), which falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is moving to increase the level of compliance by employers islandwide.
Denzil Thorpe, Director of the NIS, outlined some of the measures to achieve this objective, at a recent Open Day, held at the Clarendon offices of the Ministry in May Pen.
He pointed out that to make the compliance programme more effective, re-training of NIS Inspectors had been completed, and they would be encouraging businesses to comply.
“Where moral suasion fails, it is passed to the Parish Manager who again tries to get that money paid over. We then pass it on to our compliance Unit that is based in Kingston, but operates all over the island, to target these employers, and not necessarily to force them. At that stage we’ll still try to encourage them to pay it over. However, where that also fails, the Inspectors, Compliance Officers and our legal team are empowered by the National Insurance Act to take them to court,” he explained.
Mr. Thorpe said that the Ministry was also looking at adjusting the laws and the fines under the law, as some of the fines were minimal and outdated.
“The National Insurance Act dates as far back as 1965, so the fines that are currently in it are small and some of the employers see this as a joke,” he said, adding that the Scheme’s legal team would be working to make the punishment more meaningful.
He noted that businesses are currently charged 20 per cent compound interest on all outstanding sums, and $1,000 for outstanding annual returns.
“There are just some persons out there who do not want to make that effort to pay. Those are the ones we will be taking to court and using the full extent of the law to ensure compliane,” he said.
In his address, Delroy Palmer, Parish Manager for the Ministry, said his office would also be pushing the Scheme’s new initiative to target self employed persons.
“The new thrust is to encourage self employed persons to join the National Insurance Scheme as part of their efforts to put in place future retirement and saving plans,” he said.
Mr. Palmer explained that the NIS was a compulsory contributory social security scheme, covering all employed persons in Jamaica, and offered financial protection and medical benefits.
“Today, total assets of the National Insurance Fund, including investment, stand at $42 billion as against $1.5 billion in 1990,” he said, adding that in Clarendon, some 5,752 pensioners benefit from the scheme.
The Open Day was held in celebration of the National Insurance Scheme’s 40th Anniversary, under the theme: ‘Reflecting on the Past, Working to Guarantee the Future’.