Straker calls on Government to name and shame NIS defaulters

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With private sector entities and self-employed individuals said to owe the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in excess of $300 million, one private sector leader is suggesting that the Freundel Stuart administration publishes the names of the culprits.

However, President of the Small Business Association Dean Straker is warning that before any such action is taken, Government should ensure that its own financial house is in order.

“I mean, if people owe the Government money you have to get it in . . . [but] at the same time, if you publish the names you better make sure that you don’t owe those people anything or be willing to offset it,” Straker said while suggesting that urgent action was required.

(From left) GEF/Small Grants Programme Subregional Associate Programme Officer of the United Nations Development Programme Tamaisha Eytle, President of the SBA Dean Straker and Minister of Industry Donville Inniss.

Last year Government implemented an interest waiver programme for those who owed the NIS. That waiver, which lasted between October 2016 and March 2017, saw the NIS collecting $11.9 million from about 147 employers, and waiving $7.8 million in interest.

Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, in releasing the findings of the 15th actuarial review of the fund earlier this month, revealed that collectively, Government and the private sector owed the National Insurance Scheme approximately $650 million.

She also said Parliament was expected to approve another interest waiver programme when it convenes later this month.

Straker could not immediately say how many of the SBA members owed Government or how much was outstanding, but he told Barbados TODAY: “My personal opinion is that if businesses owe the Barbados Revenue Authority hundreds of millions of dollars in VAT [Value Added Tax] or NIS or whatever else, publish the names so that we as an association or the Barbados Private Sector Association can try to deal with their members.”

The SBA spokesman also said he supported a suggestion made by the trade unions at a recent Social Partnership meeting for retired public service workers to assist Government, on a commission basis, with collecting outstanding funds.

“I thought that was a great idea,” the businessman said.

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