Guyana’s largest pension fund and health insurance body; the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), has begun targeting companies registering in the emerging petroleum sector to ensure that employees’ benefits are being paid.
At the agency’s 49th Anniversary ceremony on Friday, September 28, at the Scheme’s Brickdam, Georgetown office, General Manager Holly Greaves noted that as of August 2018, the scheme registered 155 employees in the Petroleum sector. This contributed to $24,732,593 from January to August 2018.
“We are currently in the process of registering other companies,” she added.
The NIS is set to record a deficit at the end of 2018 of $854.9M – a trend which spanned over several years. The Scheme’s income was further affected by the retrenchment of thousands of sugar workers at the end of 2016 and 2017 who, according to the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) annual report, contributed $1.28B to the scheme.
However, Finance Minister Winston Jordan believes that the increased interest in Guyana as an investment destination brought on by its newfound wealth can save the state-run insurance body.
Delivering the feature address at the Agency’s anniversary ceremony, the Finance Minister said “the..growth of nearly 30% that is being projected for the year 2020… together with the Government’s Local Content Policy document that will soon be completed, speaks to the new industries and businesses that will be established in Guyana.”
As such, he called on the NIS to build its capacity at the inspectorate level to ensure that it capitalizes on the incoming opportunities “whether it be at the self employed level, small, medium or large scale businesses so that you will capture your contributions.”
He added that “the capital base of the NIS has been suffering from erosion over the past couple of years, this cannot be good for business…and unless we can replenish it, there will be no NIS.”
The Finance Minister suggested closer collaborations with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Deeds Registry to capture all new businesses which have been flooding Guyana’s shores recently.
“You have a number of new businesses coming up. These businesses remain largely unknown to the NiS- they exist but they exist not to the NIS,” he pointed out, referring to businesses which evade remittances to the compulsory Scheme.
He also suggested that the NIS also invest in office spaces which can be rented to investors to boost its income.
“Office is already a premium with the expanding oil and gas ventures that we have and it is one of the areas which you can contemplate,” the Minister told the General Manager, Chairman of the Board, Dr. Surendra Singh and other Directors and staff.
The NIS has committed in the long term to improving its services to better serve the expanding industry.