The National Insurance scheme is subject to what is called an actuarial review which is done periodically. This review is done to analyse the operations of the scheme and to make recommendations to the board of directors as to how the scheme should proceed into the future.
The last review is the tenth since the scheme was established by Act No 35 of 1971. One of the recommendations made to the directors of the National Insurance Board is that contribution rates be increased from 13.2 per cent of insurable earnings to 16.2 per cent. This means they want to increase your contributions.
While recommending this increase, the report states that in itself it is not enough to restore what they call “financial sustainability over the long term”. It, therefore, further recommends that the benefits provided by the NIS should be modified.
One of the things they want to modify is the payment of the minimum pension of $3,000 when workers retire at the age of 60. They want to reduce the pension by six per cent per year for every year a worker retires before age 65. If you retire at 60, that means your pension will be reduced by 30 per cent. You will therefore, be losing $1,000 on your pension if this recommendation is accepted.
To justify this reduction, the report states: “Today’s pension formula does not take into account that someone taking retirement at age 60 will receive a pension over a longer period, and in many cases will contribute over a shorter period than someone taking retirement at age 65.”
What this means is that they want you to work longer, contribute more to the NIS because contributions will increase to 16.2 per cent and you will contribute five years more to the scheme. The result will be that your post-retirement life will be shorter and the NIS will end up paying out less between the retirement at age 65 and when you die.
To crown it off, the report states “a future increase in the retirement age may be introduced in the funding policy and linked to life expectancy”. It goes on to say “it will also be necessary to eliminate the condition requiring persons to stop work before age 65”.
They want we to wuk and dead; but the employers are allowed to get away with stealing workers’ contributions and running up arrears, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The calypsonian Valentino did say a long time ago: “is the capitalists and dem who should sing... Trinidad is nice...”
education and research officer, National Workers’ Union