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NIS Scandal: Opposition says Ferguson cannot deal with issue because of 'low' public confidence

Published:Monday | January 18, 2016 | 1:19 AM
The Auditor General says the ministry cannot say whether $32.5 billion paid out in pension benefits reached the right people over the period 2010-2015 nor can it account for $1.3 million worth of pension vouchers.

The Opposition says Labour and Social Security Minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson, does not enjoy sufficient public confidence to address the multimillion-dollar scandal rocking the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

The Jamaica Labour Party says other more competent officials should take charge. 

An Auditor General report has disclosed that the Labour and Social Security-managed NIS is at risk of failing because of poor governance, which has contributed to the disbursement of billions in payments without checks to see if the right people were getting their pensions.

There are also cases in which the NIS issued millions in overpayments. 

The parliamentary Opposition said given the low public confidence in Dr Ferguson, the Prime Minister should should instruct the permanent secretary in the ministry and other government officials to deal with the scandal 

It says those officials should carefully review the Auditor General’s report and move to put an immediate end to the slew of fraudulent, irregular, error-filled and poor governance practices of the NIS. 

Dr Ferguson was shuffled out of the Health Ministry in November following public outcry over his handling of the dead babies scandal. 

Last week, the Labour and Social Security Ministry issued a statement on the NIS scandal that did not make any mention on the status of the millions unaccounted for or whether anyone has been held accountable for the irregularities.

The Auditor General says the ministry cannot say whether $32.5 billion paid out in pension benefits reached the right people over the period 2010-2015 nor can it account for $1.3 million worth of pension vouchers. 

Because of alleged poor due diligence, the ministry overpaid 152 pensioners by more than $10 million, half of which went to people who were not eligible for a pension benefit.