Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Use NIS Fund to drive growth

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Complaining that the National Insurance Fund was being used like an automatic teller machine (ATM), Opposition Member of Parliament Mia Mottley yesterday called on Government to revise the investment guidelines so that the fund’s surplus could be used to unlock economic growth.
She also called on Government to support the loss-making Almond Hotels in the bid for a buyout by management and staff.
The lead speaker for the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the debate on the Estimates of Government’s Revenue and Expenditure for 2012-13 yesterday in the House of Assembly made a case for the $60 million the National Insurance Scheme and Fund are said to have earmarked for the beleaguered Four Seasons Hotel project.
Declaring that she had disclosed her interest as counsel for the project’s management company Paradise Beach Limited, Mottley said the project “has to go on”.
She said that the problem with the NIS fund had arisen because “of the confusion of the role of the National Insurance as an automatic teller machine for the recurring expenditure of statutory boards and the National Insurance losing elements of its surplus to fill capacity in this country”.Pointing out that the surplus figures for the NIS stood at $234 million at the end of 2011, she asked:?“How can we afford to have that surplus sitting down and the Barbados economy faltering and not growing?”
She said the fund would still be subject to prudential guidelines and analysis, adding “it made no sense” asking the NIS?to finance recurring expenditure “because you will still have the problem”.
In relation to the Almond Hotels, she argued that they were responsible for 20 per cent of tourist arrivals and more than 1 500 jobs.
 “I think that one of the deleterious consequences of having Neal & Massy as the parent company of Barbados Shipping and Trading and hence the Almond Group of companies is that there is not the sensitivity to the national economic condition that there ought to be,” she stated. 

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