NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The National Insurance Board (NIB) pumped roughly $67 million into the Bahamian economy last month, its director said yesterday.
The $67 million includes two extra months of long term benefit payments which were processed in March in the event NIB personnel were unavailable for any period of time.
Nicola Virgill-Rolle, who was speaking at a media briefing via Zoom, said the COVID-19 crisis have further highlighted compliance issues.
She explained while most businesses comply with NIB, there are those who have to be prosecuted as a last resort for failing to pay contributions or failing to report information.
Virgill-Rolle noted that the fall-out from COVID-19 has left many employees dependent on the fund’s benefits and further exposed those compliance issues.
“I think the difference is it has now been made evident to the Bahamian public,” Virgill-Rolle said.
“Compliance isn’t this legalistic thing. Attached to every payment is an individual who requires it. I think it has helped to make it personal now and people understand it and that’s going to help to change the compliance culture of the country. All we needed was a business license in some cases to approve something and individuals may not have taken the time to do that.”
Still, she noted that NIB has continued to pay benefits to employees of companies that many not have been up to date with their contributions as long as they file their C10 forms.
“We will go after them in the appropriate forum and at the appropriate time as w continue to do. Right now we just want to ensure people get paid.”
With respect to the government unemployment assistance programme for self employed persons being administered via NIB, Virgill-Rolle noted that of the 7,771 applications there were 4,117 which have been approved thus far.
“We have managed to get through that and payout as of Friday about $1.96 million for the unemployment assistance program,” she said.
Virgill-Rolle confirmed NIB is using SunCash to help with disbursements under the initiative. She explained that NIB had accelerated its electronic payments solutions process which was two years out and selected SunCash for the current initiative.
“We are working with the top candidates and for this process we knew we wanted an entity with a physical location and so we selected SunCash. That is the entity we are using for the government unemployment assistance initiative.
Virgill-Rolle said: “Where you do not have a bank account or you have given us incorrect information regarding your bank account and the bank has rejected payment, we then send those funds to SunCash. Suncash combs through the list of persons we send them. They onboard them onto their platform and send them a voucher over the phone. They can use the voucher or come in and redeem it for cash.”