JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, is advising unemployed persons, to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Mr. Gallimore said it is important for employed and unemployed persons to contribute to the scheme, because pension benefits are paid out based on the amount of contributions made to the fund.
“It is very important that persons contribute to the scheme, because the contributions that they make, determine what their benefits will be,” the State Minister said, pointing out that “persons who are not employed can still contribute to the scheme, even if it is twenty dollars.”
Noting that Jamaicans are not being proactive when it comes to planning for their retirement, he said “we have a major problem and a trend that we don’t want to continue.”
Mr. Gallimore said that currently, only about 33 per cent of the senior citizens are receiving a pension benefit from the NIS, which means that roughly 66 per cent of the senior citizens did not make plans for retirement.
“There are many senior citizens who are having it far more difficult than they should have or would have, if they had been proactively planning for their retirement,” he said.
Whilst acknowledging that the benefits from the scheme are not great, he pointed out that the contribution being requested is minute. “The benefits that flow from the NIS are not large, but the amount that is asked to be paid is very small, and so it is not a great burden. It is the very minimum that any well thinking Jamaican should do to prepare themselves for retirement,” he stressed.
Turning to the informal sector, which includes masons, domestic helpers, street cleaners and vendors, the State Minister said these persons are most at risk.
“What we want to do, is to get all the persons that are in the informal sector, because they are most at risk. When they go about working, they are not usually called on by employers to participate in the NIS programme, like others who are in a more structured working environment,” Mr. Gallimore noted.
He pointed out that many of these persons have been registered with the PATH programme, which is helping to alleviate the hardship that they would otherwise be experiencing.
In its bid to create awareness of the NIS programme, the State Minister informed that the Ministry would undertake a public education programme, which would be in the form of a re-socialisation effort. He is therefore, urging the unemployed and members of the informal sector to make a voluntary contribution.
“What we want to do is to ensure that future generations do not make the same mistake. And so we want to get every young person 18 and upward, while they are in the prime of their working life, to consider how they are going to prepare for their retirement,” he said.
“These people need to make a voluntary contribution, they need to recognise that they will get older and will need an income when their earning capacity has reduced substantially. They will want a pension benefit, so I am urging these people to come to our offices and get registered,” the State Minister implored.
Statistics from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), indicate that as of January 2008, there are 133,000 unemployed Jamaicans.