Advertisement 87
Advertisement 211
Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock speaking at the NDP rally in Kingstown on March 23, 2023.
Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock speaking at the NDP rally in Kingstown on March 23, 2023.

Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock says the Unity Labour Party government, which has been in office for 22 years, has been “scheming from day one” in its handling of the National Insurance Service’s (NIS) money.

The NIS, the nation’s social security agency, is in urgent need of reform, with Stuart Haynes, its executive director, saying changes must be made by next year to avoid draconian measures, such as doubling contribution rates.

Currently the contribution rate is 10% of income — 5.5% paid by the employer and 4.5% by the employee.

Leacock, speaking at a recent public meeting of his New Democratic Party (NDP), noted that the opposition asked the government in Parliament whether the law required the government to table the actuarial reports on the NIS in the national assembly.

“The son say he think he talks about it; he believe he father say something. You can’t remember if the Speaker did say or who remember who didn’t remember who was supposed to remember and shoulda remember,” Leacock said, referring to Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves and his father, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

Advertisement 271

“But it never happened in 22 years, and at the end of the day, NIS is in trouble,” Leacock said.

The prime minister has called for a bipartisan approach to addressing the problems at the NIS, saying that it should not be used a stick with which to beat the government.  

Leacock told the meeting:

After 22 years, and they coming to who? We to ask to clean up that mess? Never happen! We know what we have to do. But we’ll do that when we in government.”

He said the government broke the law governing the NIS “and only when the bottom dropped out, you’re coming to the New Democratic Party for cooperation”.

Leacock said it was the same NDP, whose then leader, Arnhim Eustace, Gonsalves had said wanted to look prime ministerial when, in 2010, he invited Gonsalves to hold a joint press conference calling for peace amidst reports of election violence.

“The same man who said he ain’t talking to Friday, they want Friday help now,” Leacock said.

In August 2021 after Gonsalves was injured when he struck in the head while walking through a crowd of protesters in Kingstown.

He blamed Friday for the injury and has repeatedly said since then that he will not speak to the opposition leader.

Friday has rejected responsibility for the injury.

Eustace warned us once, twice, three times too many times about fooling around with NIS,” Leacock said of the former finance minister and prime minister, who retired from politics in 2020.

The Central Kingstown MP noted that he also asked recently in Parliament whether it is correct that in 10 years, or around 2033, the NIS would not have enough money to pay people’s pensions.

“You know what he said? But government will have to bail them out,” Leacock said.

“Just imagine; just think about that. And you know why that is so because of contributory negligence by the Unity Labour Party administration.”

Leacock reminded listeners of Gonsalves’ reasoning when the NIS came to own the former Ju-C Building.

“He said he got up a day and when you drive in downtown he see the Ju-c Building, he see a sign marked ‘for sale’ and you say, ‘You know what ah go tell me pickey if me nah buy that building?’ He buy it,” Leacock said, noting that the building is now home to a carnival mas tent.

He further noted that in response to a question by opposition leader, Godwin Friday, the government said that the NIS had invested EC$3 million in land in the hotel that the government is building at Diamond.

“So, one has to ask how come NIS get land in Diamond? NIS never bought lands at Diamond. Them guys scheming from day one.

“They created a company called National Properties. They give National Properties government land, tell National Properties, go up by NIS, take a loan and when they get a loan, take the money give it to the Argyle company to build the airport. When National Properties can’t pay back for the land, they give it to NIS as security. That’s how NIS get the land. Circuitously — roundabout.”

He further noted that the government had owed NIS EC$13 million in contributions.

“The so-called get a loan to pay for a loan. But it ain’t straight forward like that,” Leacock said, adding that the money was owed because statutory corporations were not paying their NIS contributions.

He said that to address the situation, the government sold a bond to the NIS to raise the $13 million.

“If you go through the audit of the Director of Audit, you know what it shows? The Accountant General never received a cent from NIS out of that bond. And they will say to us that since we did already owe NIS $13 million, they just keep the money for the bond.

“The consequence is that the Accountant General say I never saw that. I know nothing about it. I cannot put it on your books to say that this pass through my hand.

“That’s what she says and, therefore, she does not include as a part of the bond stock for the government. It does not appear in the budget at all since that time.

“Because the truth is the money never really passed. Is a book entry; a piece of paper. You have the same nonsense dey with a company called BIACO.”

Leacock said he was drawing “those small issues” to the attention of the public to show how the government has bad spent NIS money.

“But I bring it to your attention to show you that the biggest fear that this government has is losing office. That’s the fear. Because there’s so much corruption, there is so much wrongdoing, there’s so much to be discovered that they simply are mortally afraid to be out of office so that somebody could unearth and expose how badly managed St. Vincent and the Grenadines is — not was, is. But they are masquerading all over the world, minding everybody else’s business except our business,” Leacock said.

He said the time is “long past for the Unity Labour Party to go; long, long past,” adding that things will get better the day that the NDP is elected to office.

2 replies on “‘Them guys scheming from day one,’ Leacock says of ULP’s handling of NIS”

  1. It’s one thing about the N D P they have some brilliant people that can take S V G forward to great things, not like the U L P who have a lot of DICK HEADS

Comments closed.