Oct 10, 2016 News
– tight-lipped on public figures who owe millions
Even as they develop a strategy to recover billions in outstanding debts, officials of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) are tight-lipped about the many public figures that still owe the scheme.
In April, government released the report of the forensic audit conducted into the operations of NIS. The report was prepared by auditor Ramesh Seebaran. Seebaran said that over $2.5B remained outstanding by contributors who have not paid their dues but have been submitting monthly returns.
The report stated that several companies and businesses, many of which are no longer in existence, have not been making the payments.
The report also revealed that several public figures have over a lengthy period, remained indebted to the scheme.
Among those highlighted were Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, former Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai and another former Attorney General, Charles Ramson Snr.
It is hard to figure out why there is secrecy with NIS as it relates to how much it has received since that outstanding sum was made public.
In fact, several NIS officials declined to comment. Even Board members refused to comment saying that they do not “have the facts.”
However, an official confirmed to Kaieteur News that a chunk of the $2.5B remains outstanding and “prominent figures in society are still in arrears.”
The official said that management has prepared a list of all those who are in arrears, including companies and persons who are self-employed. This list has reportedly been presented to the Board, but needed some modifications.
The member confirmed that the board is currently awaiting an updated list. The list needed to be updated as NIS has been able to meet “settlement agreements” with a few companies and officials.
Kaieteur News understands that Nandlall is among those who have reached a settlement. NIS has cut the interest attached to the sum he owed.
Nandlall had said that ignorance landed him into a $4.4M debt. According to Nandlall, he took it for granted that the government was making contributions for him.
He told Kaieteur News that he belatedly learnt that this was not the case and that he was expected to make his contributions personally.
Trotman owed $554,850 but settled his payments days after it was made public. Trotman said that he was not aware of the debt.
This was for his personal contributions whilst he was in law practice.
Sukhai has a debt of $1.6M and Ramson owes just over $1M.
The NIS official said that debt management is a real concern for the Board. It noted, “We have devised a strategy to deal with this but effectiveness will be another issue.”
The official said that in preparation for the 2017 Budget, “we saw the need to really look at debt management and try to put measures in place to bring in what is owed to us. We will work with each individual and each company to develop payment plans, etc. We are indeed trying.”
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