Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: Doesn’t NIB chairman’s appointment violate NIS Act? Whose side is Govt really on?

Dear Editor: Doesn’t NIB chairman’s appointment violate NIS Act? Whose side is Govt really on?

“Patrick Ferreira has been appointed chairman of the National Insurance Board [despite being] chairman of Furness Chemicals Ltd, Furness Shipping & Marketing Ltd and Furness Personnel Services Ltd [and] CEO of Furness Rentals Ltd, Furness Properties Ltd and Furness Investments Ltd.

“[…] Do you think that this business tycoon is going to come down hard on his business colleagues who deduct NIS contributions from their workers’ emoluments but do not remit them to the Board? […]”

The following Letter to the Editor, which discusses the appointment by Government of a new ‘independent’ chairman of the NIB, was submitted to Wired868 by Gerry Kangalee, national education and research officer of the National Workers Union (NWU):

Photo: Newly appointed NIBTT chairman Patrick Ferreira.
(Copyright Gary Jordan/ NIBTT)

Patrick Ferreira has been appointed chairman of the National Insurance Board. He was appointed to the Board as a director in 2017, one of the three government appointees as spelt out in the National Insurance Act.

Now he has been made chairman in violation of that very Act, which stipulates that the post of chairman should be held by an individual who, in the opinion of the minister, is independent of business, labour and the government.

This ‘independent chairman’ is chairman of Furness Chemicals Ltd, Furness Shipping & Marketing Ltd and Furness Personnel Services Ltd. He is currently CEO of Furness Rentals Ltd, Furness Properties Ltd and Furness Investments Ltd. He has served as Director of the Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the Central Bank and director of TT NGL, a subsidiary of the National Gas Company, a state-owned company.

In the opinion of the Minister of Finance, this gentleman is ‘independent’. We all know that Minister Dey-Ent-Riot-Yet holds much of the citizenry in rather low esteem. Of the three sectors stated in the Act (Business, Labour and Government), the only one Ferreira seems to be independent of is Labour.

Image: A satirical take on the relationship between businesses and unions.
(Copyright Carol Simpson)

Do you think that this business tycoon is going to come down hard on his business colleagues who deduct NIS contributions from their workers’ emoluments but do not remit them to the Board? Do you think he will pursue those who are not even registered with the NIB?

In 2018, employers were in arrears of over $437m. In 2017, employer arrears amounted to $565m. In 2016, the total was $383m. In fact, every year employers’ arrears total hundreds of millions of dollars.

Section 40 of the NIS Act reads thus: ‘An employer who fails or neglects to pay or effect payment of contribution in respect of any person in his employment who is required to be insured under this Act is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars and six months’ imprisonment’—a provision more noted for being breached left, right and centre than for its implementation.

For those who have eyes to see, it is becoming increasingly clear that the One Percent is moving to consolidate its control of the State; this is merely another indication that, with the economic pie shrinking, inter-clique rivalry is intensifying and re-alignment of forces is taking place.

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