Pay your National Insurance contributions to ensure you receive a pension, and don’t wait for a financial need or crisis, advises Minister of Labour Colin Jordan.

His appeal, aimed principally at self-employed people, came during his address on Saturday night at the 51st anniversary GEM Awards ceremony of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Jordan said there was a huge gap between the number of registered self-employed people who paid NIS contributions, and the actual number who were self-employed. The 2010 National Census reported 20 000 self-employed people, while NIS records showed only 2 035 were paying contributions at March 2018.

Manage savings

“This situation begs the question as to how self-employed persons manage their lives in periods of low production and low income, sickness or invalidity, and whether they manage their savings in such a way to ensure that there is a resource of funds to support during retirement,” said Jordan. He said there had been an increase in self-employed people since 2010 but some professionals, including doctors, were not contributing to the NIS.

“It is true that some self-employed persons work seasonally, but they should still pay contributions as the payment is calculated on as low an amount as $21 a week or $91 a month. Seasonal workers can even prepay their contributions to cover periods when there is little or no income,” the minister said.

“Many persons do not realise the benefit of social security until a need or crisis arises. Our future is secure when we contribute to the NIS.”

Noting that some applications for pensions had been denied, he called for a sustained public awareness campaign which utilised social media heavily.

Think about future

Jordan said Barbadians think about their future, “. . . and if we are fortunate to live to a ripe old age, we need that level of replacement income to sustain a comfortable quality of life”.

The GEMS Awards ceremony recognised customer service excellence and other outstanding achievers, as well as long service employees.

Employee of The Year was Renee Waterman, while the top long service award went to Beverley Marshall, who has been employed with the NIS for 45 years. (HH)

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