Home Personal Finance St Vincent unions criticise govt’s NIS reforms, tax increases

St Vincent unions criticise govt’s NIS reforms, tax increases

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  • Joint Statement on the Parametric Changes of National Insurance Services (NIS) Pension Reform

In the recently concluded 2024 budget address, the Minister of Finance Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, announced the Government’s intentions to adjust the parameters of the NIS Pension (by April and June 2024) and increase taxes by May 2024.

As organizations that represent the interests of their members, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Public Service Union (SVGPSU), the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU), and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Welfare Association (SVGPWA) understand the need for parametric reform and welcome sound and appropriate measures to address the issue of National Insurance Services (NIS) pension reform and the sustainability of the employees’ and employers’ NIS social security fund.

However, we are extremely aggrieved and disappointed at some of the proposed parametric changes and the manner in which the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines went ahead and enacted burdensome changes to the NIS pension system coupled with multiple increases in taxes, all at the expense of workers and the general public.

After extending an invitation last year to have a dialogue with all the major stakeholders, the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, failure to engage in social dialogue with the SVGPWA, SVGPSU, and SVGTU to discuss the parametric reform and condition of the NIS fund is deliberate and quiet telling.

We are completely saddened by the Government’s disregard for the people-centered recommendations submitted by the SVGPWA, SVGPSU, and SVGTU.

We are completely appalled at the disrespect that the association and unions received from a “labour government” that failed to engage in social dialogue to discuss such an important and sensitive topic as parametric reform of the NIS fund. Additionally, with these proposed changes, we must consider the following:

There is a palpable failure of the Government to address the financial difficulties of existing pensioners regarding the challenges, despite pensioners who have to survive on a significantly inadequate pension with no increase for over ten years despite high inflation;

There is a clear failure by the Government to address the issues of workers and a total disregard for how proposed changes will affect their quality of life;

There is blatant disregard for the need to ensure tripartite representation on the NIS Board in an effort to ensure a strong governance system.

There is a stubborn refusal by the Government to change the composition of the Investment Committee, despite a high-priority recommendation by the Actuaries for better transparency and accountability.

As the International Labour Organization (ILO) recommended, a tripartite relationship is critical to any reform; thus, as trade unions and representatives of a significant number of workers and members, we have a moral obligation to act in the best interest of our members, and by extension, the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and we stand resolute in doing so!

We assure you (our members and the public) that we are very concerned about the impact of the cabinet-approved reforms and increase in taxes and how they will affect the quality of life of all contributors and pensioners. We remain committed to working on your behalf to ensure that the NIS pension fund is sustainable but not at a disproportionate or unfair advantage over our workers and citizens of this country.

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