NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While prime minister Philip Davis made no mention of the National Insurance Board (NIB) during his 2023/2024 budget contribution, he will address the issue when he kicks off the budget debate, Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis assured.
NIB’s current state was predicted more than two decades ago by its seventh actuarial review—completed in 2001—which forecasted that the fund’s reserves would be exhausted by 2029 if comprehensive reforms were not implemented to address the fundamental problem of benefit payouts exceeding contribution income.
Halkitis said during an Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) press briefing: “NIB technically is not incorporated in the budget, so you wouldn’t see a line item or any contribution for NIB in the budget, but it is a matter of concern and it is on the minds of Bahamians. The prime minister will address is when he leads the debate.”
The budget debate is expected to begin on Wednesday at 11 am.
During the mid-year budget debate in March, Myles LaRoda raised concerns over the fund’s sustainability and warned that action must be taken. According to Laroda, NIB is projected to lose some $98 million this year if there is no increase.
Gowon Bowe, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) chief executive told Eyewitness News that issues relative to the National Insurance Board should not be connected to the budget exercise so as to avoid the perception that NIB contributions are a tax.
“We need to get to a mindset of NIB being completely autonomous and separate from the government, and to have any mention of NIB matters during the budget completely conflates the issue and confuses people into believing that NIB is an extension of the government and that’s highly inappropriate,” Bowe remarked.