NIS back in the black

Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda says there has been a positive financial turnaround in the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

Making his contribution to the 2021/2022 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Samuda said the NIS took a jump of $476.2 million as at February 28, 2021, moving from a negative $245.06 million as at February 28, 2020.

He said the positive turnaround resulted from various reform measures implemented on April 1, 2019, with an increase in the NIS contribution rate from five per cent to 5.5 per cent and from 5.5 per cent to six per cent on April 1, 2020.

Samuda reported that the National Insurance Fund (NIF), from which benefits are paid to NIS contributors, is realising increased dividends from its investments.

He noted that up to February 28, 2021, the fund was valued at approximately $123.98 billion, which represented an increase of 2.18 per cent in net asset value over the corresponding period last year, and that while it has experienced a decline in earnings due to a downturn on the equities markets, growth is on the horizon.

“This situation is improving, and we are already seeing recovery in the equities and other markets. As at February 28, 2021, the fund recorded a net increase in assets resulting from operations for 2020/2021 of $10.51 billion (unaudited),” the minister told the House.

Samuda assured that despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, which affected the “speed and delivery” of several plans and projects, the fund is still actively carrying out redevelopment works for selected NIS offices across the island to ensure improved servicing environments for both employees and pensioners.

The minister told the House that the NIS parish office in St Andrew is to be renovated this year at a cost of $176 million, and “plans are afoot” to commence the development of lands owned by the fund in May Pen, Clarendon into a Government Services Centre.

The fund, he said, is continuing active engagement with other State agencies with respect to joint developments in Morant Bay and Port Antonio, while there are also plans to develop parcels of land owned by the entity in St James and St Andrew for investment purposes.


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