Feb 25, 2021 Letters
Dear Mr. Editor,
I’m saddened at the state of affairs that has resulted in the never-ending suffering of senior citizens in Guyana after 53 years of independence. This ongoing plight which continues to affect this delicate group of people ought to be a matter of urgency and as such, needs to be dealt with swiftly. It’s most distressing to see how senior citizens are treated as outcasts and the royal run-a-round they endure to get a pension that they can barely survive on in an all-time rich country like Guyana. How long such torture will continue remains questionable. Lots of these citizens over the years, are pushed to spend non-refundable sums of money and time to photocopy documents that continues to be resubmitted over and over again to the National Insurance Scheme – Head Office in Georgetown and then, forced to trot to and from NIS like beggars with high hopes of becoming a beneficiary one day. These disgruntled people who are only anxious to get what they think is rightly due to them, complained of times they are being rudely handled by some of these obnoxious and unprofessional staff at NIS who probably feel they would never get old and they are just there to attend to issues affecting their families and friends. The arrogance exhibited by those who were hired as professionals and is meted out to the defenseless, is certainly a form of abuse that needs to end forthwith. Dissatisfied senior citizens don’t know where to go after they would have left NIS. It is therefore suggested that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is equipped and should be assigned with the duty of dealing with matters/complaints affecting Senior Citizens in Guyana. The workers of the National Insurance Scheme – Head Office in Georgetown need to be reminded that Senior Citizens needs a pension just as the staff of NIS needs a salary to survive and if those who were hired have become tired in executing the duties they are paid to perform, then they need to do the honorable thing…. just RESIGN! This predicament of old people in Guyana is a shame and a total disgrace!!! What is even more disgraceful and disturbing was the cry of the senior citizens falling on deaf ears of a Government that had consisted of a 90% ratio of senior citizen/pensioners and which would have failed to address such matters affecting their very own group. It is obvious that the pension of the aforementioned ratio was intact so to hell with those who was affected.
It is interesting to know the number of citizens deprived of a NIS pension in this era and its glaring that some major factors are responsible. i. Those rouge/unscrupulous employers who would always make the necessary deductions to pay NIS from the employees’ salaries but to no avail. ii. The sluggishness/tardiness of NIS Inspecting Officers who fail miserably in their attempts to go after those fraudsters. iii. Monthly Contributions are paid in to NIS yet, upon examination, records reveal lapses by months and even by years. As a consequence, persons may become ineligible for a NIS pension since they would have fallen short of 750 contributions. NIS owes more than a passive apology to its contributors and the people of Guyana for the spate of its unsatisfactory service and continued inconvenience. The complexity of attention and feedback is lengthy and time consuming, and this have been unbearable for years. It is unfortunate that this group of Guyanese citizens choose to remain in Guyana for whatever reason(s). They work all their lives for what can be considered a meagre salary. It’s only fair that when they would attain the age to receive their benefit from NIS, it should be done without a hassle. The harassment senior citizens normally go through in Guyana to get what can be considered raveling for a pension is no joke. Worldwide, it’s normal for senior citizens to be treated well and well taken care of and Guyana ought to be no different. An outreach was held by the President Irfaan Ali the latter part of 2020 in New Amsterdam Berbice. Promises were made to the affected citizens to have them paid before the Christmas holidays but to date, payments are yet to be made. It is without any doubt that the current Government have been trying since it has regained power. However, it has a mandate to fulfill and needs to be reminded that it is a servant of the people of Guyana and therefore, the duty of a Government of the day is to take care of its people’s welfare and to make them happy. A Government can never make its people happy by putting them through struggles. They are not elected to make themselves Lords over the people who paved the way for them to be in authority and as such should never be hesitant in dealing with matters of such nature and urgency. Failing to do so can result in a Government looking very incompetent. People are waiting and longing for their pension since before 2008 and at this stage they’re being asked by NIS to be patient. What would be the outcome of benefits for the period in wait, should a senior citizen die? Who stands as the beneficiary in such an event? What is preventing NIS from making payments whenever necessary when there’s an influx of funds on a monthly basis? There are more questions than answers. All these irregularities and ongoing issues is certainly pointing in the direction of fraud. If that is indeed the case, the regulatory body should intervene to protect the citizenry from this well-organized pernicious imposition. Further, it is utter nonsense for Citizens to retire at the age of 55 years and have to wait in limbo for 5 years… until they are 60 years old to be qualified for a NIS pension. Who tends to benefit from the 5 years pauses…at least not the contributor. If this initiative is not a scheme then it is backwardness to its highest and it would be welcomed if this desolation can come to an abrupt end. The Government took drastic measure in its approach towards the dismantling of the Ponzi Scheme. Who is there to take the necessary action/measures against the National Insurance Scheme? If the Government of the day have difficulties in fixing the predicament of NIS that causing people to live in hell while on planet earth , then assistance should be sought from the international community in an effort to find solutions to eradicate the misery that have been brought upon vulnerable contributors of NIS.
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