Back on good footing


ALL the issues that developed as a result of the National Insurance’s information technology project, which were affecting the State entity’s ability to pay benefits, have been resolved.
The assurance has come from Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo. She made this known while speaking in the Senate during the recent debate on the Appropriation Bill.
“The back office functioning is up to 100 per cent; front office functioning is 98 per cent of what it was before; 99 per cent of the data has been successfully mitigated, I’m told the other one per cent is not essential. The processing of long-term and short-term claims have returned to normal levels. The SAT system that was used, SAT assigned an escalation manager who came and helped to resolve the claims processing issue,” she said.
Byer-Suckoo added, “The disablement payment issues have been resolved. All the system performance database or authorisation and workflow issues that were reported on January 5th, last year have all been resolved. There are no further problems outstanding with the IT system.”
Adamant that the National Insurance is back on good footing, she added that they have recently had a soft launch of the eZPay online payment system. This, she said, will allow earning schedules and payment of contributions to be done online. To date, she revealed that $2 million have been paid through this system and that figure is expected to increase as the intention is to have eZPay fully implemented within the next quarter.
“The Fund as we have heard from the other side is sound and Barbadians have nothing to worry about… All the issues we faced last year, they have all been resolved,” she stated.
Meanwhile, referring to the extension granted to the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII) regarding the repayment of its $55 million loan from the National Insurance, she contended that no “back arrangement” was in play. Rather, she disclosed that the decision to grant the extension was unanimously approved by the entire Board of the National Insurance, on which two Barbados Labour Party candidates sit in their professional capacities. Senator Byer-Suckoo sought to shed some light on the issue, which was first raised during the Estimates debate in the House of Assembly, dismissing the idea that the National Insurance was being misused.
She explained that when the loan reached maturity, BTII approached the National Insurance and requested an extension because they wanted to put the money into another “worthwhile project”.
“The National Insurance said, ‘Look we need to have that project going, that project will benefit Barbados when more people are working. Furthermore, you’ve been a good client, but we’re not going to roll over and play dead. Bring another letter of comfort from the Government,’ which the Government provided,” she said.
Byer-Suckoo added, “They had to come like any other client and meet the new conditions, having paid everything on time before. And they have come and the whole Board met and they dealt with the matter… Good business practice, but the impression would want to be given that somebody is using the Board.” (JRT)

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