Union claims NIB has refused to negotiate payment plan
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Taxi Cab Union President Wesley Ferguson said yesterday that the union is planning to take legal action against the National Insurance Board (NIB), claiming executives have refused to negotiate a payment plan with the union on arrears it owes to NIB.
“When we came in office in October, we inherited a large bill of about $750,000 that was left from 1973,” Ferguson told Eyewitness News Online.
“[As] outstanding business people, [we] didn’t wait for NIB to come to us, we went to NIB.”
The union has a contract with the government to transport guests, but it cannot receive payment without a value-added tax (VAT) compliance certificate, which is tied into the National Insurance Board, according to Ferguson.
“Right now, the Bahamas government owes us thousands of dollars for work we have already done,” he said.
“They are unable to pay us because NIB — another government entity — is not giving us the paperwork to go ahead and pay, so we can get paid, and pay NIB.”
The union president said despite efforts to comply, they’ve been only given the run around.
“This ended up in the prime minister’s office and [Minister of Public Service] Brensil Rolle’s office,” he said.
“And we’ve even [attempted to give] NIB a piece of property to negotiate with, that is double what we owe them.
“We own a parcel of land on Gladstone Road which is worth $2 million.”
Rolle, who has ministerial responsibility for NIB, said he spoke to the union on Tuesday and was seeking to negotiate a letter of good standing with the union.
He said, “They told me they have some funds tied up with another government ministry and they can’t because of this letter of good standing [that] I’m trying to negotiate.”
As it relates to the union’s offer of the Gladstone Road property to leverage against its debt, Rolle said he advised executives to assess the value of the property.
“NIB in the meantime must check the value of the property and make decision if they are interested in the property, but that still does not address the fact that they owe NIB this money,” he said.
“You owe [NIB} $700,000.
“You think of yourself as a businessman; you don’t think if you come to me and say, ‘[I] owe $700,000, I will give you a deposit of $100,000 and pay the rest overtime’, you don’t think NIB would agree to that?”
Rolle also said that he could not understand why the union has made the matter public as he informed them recently that he was seeking to resolve the issue.
He added that he planned to speak with NIB executives yesterday to determine the way forward.