NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The country’s National Insurance Board (NIB) fund could be facing a decline in the next decade if employers continue to hold out on turning over social security payments of their employees as required by law, according to Public Service Minister Brensil Rolle, who said the government will seek to clamp down on the practice.
“It is borderline criminal,” Rolle told reporters.
“If I take your money from you to make a contribution to your social security network and then you get sick and suddenly find out that your contributions were not paid, then that’s issue.”
He continued, “We are not a money-making institute; we collect contributions from you to pay out benefits to you, and that’s all we do.”
Rolle, who has ministerial responsibility for NIB, explained that the insurance board’s collected contributions are not meeting its current payouts in benefits.
The declining fund is not an issue isolated to The Bahamas.
An annual U.S. government report on the status of the Medicare and Social Security programs, two critical social safety systems, the cost of social security will exceed its income in 2020, and could be deployed by 2035.
Meanwhile, the report noted that Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is expected to be depleted in 2026.
As it relates to NIB, Rolle advised that there are options to fix the trend being observed, including increasing contributions amounts, raising the retirement age or modifying the formula that determines how people receive their benefits.
“If our contributions are not being equal to our benefits then only two things can happen, either we have to ask you to increase your contributions, so that we can pay your benefit or we have to decrease your benefits to increase your contributions,” the minister said.
He also recommended that employees who suspect their employers of not paying NIB contributions on their behalf to check their NIB accounts online or visit the head office.
“I’d encourage that every single Bahamian [ensure] that you are paying your contribution because it will come back to haunt you,” Rolle said.
“It is that safety net that helps you when you need it most.”