Luke Browne, an economist at the Ministry of Finance responsible for pension reform (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – A Ministry of Finance economist responsible for pension reform says that Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace is misinformed on National Insurance Services (NIS) criteria for pension qualification.

Eustace, parliamentary representative for East Kingstown, said recently he will write to the NIS asking for a review of a system he says could disqualify hundreds of Vincentians from receiving pensions

His action, he said, was triggered by a 60-year-old constituent who was told on retiring that her 300-plus contributions to the NIS didn’t meet the 500 threshold and that she would receive a lump sum payment but no pension.

“The impression was given that an individual entered the NIS system under the impression that they had to make 300 payments to receive a pension for life and upon retirement they were somehow told that the requirement is now 500,” Luke Browne, who lost to Eustace in East Kingstown in the 2010 general election, told I-Witness News on Friday.

“It is a clear case of misinformation in the first place and I will tell them (workers) to stay tuned for a statement of clarification on this matter and to assure them that the NIS exists … first of all to meet their material needs, whatever their social circumstances may be,” Browne said.

He, however, added that the NIS must be established “on a firm financial footing” in order to meet the needs of workers

He noted that the NIS was started under the administration of the New Democratic Party, of which Eustace is now president.

He further noted that Eustace, an economist and former prime minister and minister of finance, is also a former chair of the NIS.

“It seems as if he, nonetheless, is still somewhat unfamiliar with the way in which things work,” Browne said.

He explained that the NIS has special provision until the system matures.

“You can appreciate that in 1987, which is the start date of the NIS, a worker who started paying NIS could have been 55, close to the 60 retirement age,” Browne explained.

He said that since such a worker would have begun contributing to the NIS a few years before retiring, there was an initial minimum contribution requirement for such a worker to receive a pension.

But the situation outlined by Eustace in which 300 contributions were required for a worker to receive a pension could not exist in 2012, Browne said.

“The only way in which somebody would have required only 300 payments to receive a pension would have been if they retired in 2003 and started making contribution to the NIS in 1987,” Browne said, adding that from 2011 onward 500 contributions are needed.

“… Mr. Eustace … seems to have been misguided on what the qualifications might be and how to interpret the qualifications.”

Browne, like Eustace, said that in order the to meet the 500 weekly contribution required by the NIS, an individual has to work full-time for ten years.

However, if a worker has made 150 contributions at the time or retirement, the employee qualifies for a full refund of all contributions to the NIS.

A worker who made between 150 and 499 contributions is liable to a one-time lump sum payment.

“Deepening on the life expectancy of that person, it might be more useful than a pension,” Browne said.

“So all categories of workers, whether or not you reach the 500 contributions threshold, would be receiving some sort of benefit in terms of pension or lump sum payments.”

The NIS formula used to calculate the lump sum considers the number of contributions made and the average insurable earnings within a particular period of time.

“There is a technical formula that is applied. It is not as if this person will in any event walk away from the NIS empty handed,” Browne said.

These payments are separate from the fact that a worker who makes at least 26 payments is entitled to a funeral grant of EC$4,330, Browne said.

“So, there are various levels of benefit of which the pension component is only one,” he explained.

“So, if you are really going to assess the NIS to determine whether or not it is really meeting the welfare concerns of contributors, you are not only going to look at the pension component. You are going to look at the maternity benefits, you are going to look at the invalidity benefits — you are going to look at the full range of benefits,” Browne said.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace (File photo).

Persons “who have no history of contributing to the National Insurance Services receive some sort of benefit as well” Browne said, noting the non-contributory pension and the elderly assistance benefit.

“Those things should not be discounted. … These things also take care of categories of people who might not be covered for an on-going period because they have not met the minimum number of contribution.”

“The process of pension reform is on-going right now. All matters will be considered going forward. There are very competent professionals working on pension reform and I think their (workers’) interest will be in the forefront of deliberations as well,” he said.

Browne further stated that pension reform here is being approached with a view to balancing the financial sustainability of the NIS and meeting the needs of Vincentians.

Asked if these criteria are clearly communicated to citizens joining the NIS, Browne said:

“Well, the process of education is on-going. … There is always going to be information asymmetries in relation to this. But I think by and large the effort is really made to ensure that people know their entitlements might be given their circumstances.

“But, of course, the NIS could do more and I think the process of pension reform will allow for this to be done in this respect so that you can have a better informed public on this issues,” he further stated.

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19 replies on “Eustace seems ‘somewhat unfamiliar’ with NIS pension criteria – gov’t economist”

  1. What is Luke REALLY saying??, i’m still looking for the misinformation from Eustace in his words. If Eustace was wrong in any way it would’ve been Gonsalves coming out and saying it.

  2. Eustace gets it wrong once more..poor granpa trying 2 mislead Ppl again without fully analyzing d entire process so as 2 give a fair assessment in the interest of all Vincentians..I swear he’s a political mistake n disaster…luke will always be honest n articulate in clearing up eustace’s misinformation so tnk u mr browne 4 your clarification cause eustace had already frightened soo many poor ppl concerning the issue so tnx.

    1. vincy in bad shape says:

      TD, can you do a better job than luke did in explaining this to us?? Sounds like you can do a better job than Fluke brown did. Please explain what the hell he’s trying to say

  3. Well that explains a lot, just having this boy in a job in this position, when did he get this job?

  4. Now, Kenton when would we see what Mr. Eustace really said? This is a one sided story, go dig deep JOURNALIST.

    1. VEXALWAYS:

      Thank you for your comments. Please drop by more often. Remember that at I-Witness News, you get “News That Matter NOW!” Not visiting the site one day might mean that you might miss something important. Follow this link to read the full story about what Eustace said, published a week ago.

  5. “The impression was given (by Arnhim Eustace) that an individual entered the NIS system under the impression that they had to make 300 payments to receive a pension for life and upon retirement they were somehow told that the requirement is now 500”

  6. Whites of your eyes look a bit yellow BROWNE, hope theres not a matching stripe down your back. Tell us how you got the Ministry of Finance job? was that a Gonsalves recomended appointment?

    The fact is BROWNE is wrong and EUSTACE was right. We can all be sure this boy would not speak out and make such comments which amount to spin without the full instructon of Gonsalves, because he just hasn’t got it.

    As you are now a self declared economist, explain to us all how 7 is more than 10, I am sure your will agree with Gonsalves, so 7 must be more than 10, because Gonsalves said so. With that in mind I hope the NIS seek second opinions on any advice that comes from the Ministry of Finance.

    1. Politics or no politics the youngster is qualified for d job so u ppl stop hating on him because he’s been blessed by God with gr88 talent ah mean look @ what we’ve come to..mr eustace explained the Nis pention plan stating that prior to 2o11 one needed to make 300 contributions in order to b qualified for pention from d institution but d current is 500 so luke after having studied what arnhim said gave an enlightenment of the entire prerequisites needed 4 qualification and instead one reads n analyze and at least see it 4 what it is(a clearer picture) n weigh d 2 sides in d interest o all vincentians they instead choose d political route.

      Whether ralph gave him d job or not no one can question his qualiications because luke is an outstanding vincentain in all aspects of this life n dat is what no one can take from him inspite of their malice n so what if ralph instructed him isn’t that what a boss does u politcal opportunists..now stop playing politics with everything because someone choose 2 pick out one cliche of an entire book 2 show d book flaws when in essence the book has a lot of meaningful info which he choose 2 withhold or simply he just didn’t understand or deliberately chose 2 misinformed d public

  7. KS784, Eustace is a LIGHTWEIGHT, so Dr. Gonsalves does not need to ADDRESS him unless a reporter brings him the issue to his attention at his press conference, because Luke Browne can more than handle Eustace the LIGHTWEIGHT.

    That said; it is OBVIOUS that Eustace should be home taking care of his banana farm instead of vying to be the PRIME MINISTER of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It amazes me how people can look at Eustace and deem him ready to lead a NATION.

    Are you people serious about wanting the BEST for SVG or are you people just looking at party politics.
    Luke Browne, a highly intelligent and academically accomplished young man of only 26 years old or there about, continues to SCHOOL Mr. Eustace on the workings of the NIS. It should be clear to anyone with commonsense and a love of country that Eustace does not possess a cerebral mind of that of Luke Browne. Moreover, although he was once the Chairman of that body under the then NDP government, Mr. Eustace is clearly OUT OF TOUCH as to how the NIS works.

    If he isn’t, then clearly he is MISINFORMING the PUBLIC about how the NIS works.
    Again, I would not hire Eustace to manage mauby shop much less govern a country in these times.

  8. Eric Williams says:

    Hey guys, I spoke to a pilot friend and former co-worker today, and I could hardly believe what he was telling me. Damning stuff!! It all has to do with the fire at Liat’s hangar in Antigua. You wouldn’t believe who’s involved. Just a clue, Arson, Cover-up). I cant post the information here, but if someone here is brave enough to publish it, you can contact me at [email protected] and I will relate it to you.

  9. Why these a**wipe like luke Browne don’t just go in a corner and suck their thumb. Blasted hypocrites! WTF are you saying? You make no sense what-so-ever. The only reason why people pay into a pension fund is to receive pension. Tell people the conditions up front and let people decide whether to save their own pension in the bank. All yo teking people pension money and doing all kindda sh*t wit ye. When people expect to get something to buy bread in them old age allyo coming with all kindda dogfart explanation. Allyo hiding the truth from poor people to trick them and leave them hanging? Luke Brown and he marmy doing well. She dun retire years ago but still ah wuk while young people coming outta school and can’t eat. So Luke can stay there and talk all the fart he want. Fu he bread dun butter under ULP.

  10. lmao @ luke brown Keep talking luke,keep saying how much you believe in gunzenomics so it can be recorded,because when all the loan payments become due and Gonsalves goes down as the worse pm in Vincentian history..we already have your statements on record..les see if anyone would be stupid enough to make you pm n future given your belef in Gunzenomics lol So Keep talking Luke,it’s all recorded digitally so it will be around forever,unlike Gunzy you cant try to rewrite history in the digital age

  11. VINCYPOWA, what you mean you LIKE=LUKE, it’s pretty obvious that you have gotton your instructions from GONSALVES to try and protect the boy. That is a pretty difficult task seeing as he is such a jerk.

    There you see, I didn’t attack anyone, that doesn’t deserve correction of their stupidity and lies. You say your ears are burning, I wonder why that is VINCYPOWA.

    VINCYPOWA, I am not even going to mention your cottaging antics, so worry not.

  12. Luke Browne, the ECONOMIST, is going to SCHOOL Eustace, the OUT OF TOUCH BOOKEEPER, on the NIS and simple mathematics…look out for the schooling in this Friday’s newspapers.

Comments are closed.