– no room for incompetence, poor customer serviceThe Management and staff of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) came in for some flogging from Board Chairman, Dr Surrendra Persaud when he upbraided them to take full stock of their responsibilities as “custodians” of the Insurance body, urging them to come up to standard in their performance, particularly in the area of customer service.NIS Chairman,Dr Surendra PersaudA section of the gathering at the ceremony on ThursdayPersaud was the featured speaker on Thursday at the 47th anniversary celebration of the Insurance Scheme, held in the compound of the organisation’s Brickdam office.He lashed out at the organisation, taking to its several incidences of what he said aptly describes incompetence by the institution towards members of the public.“NIS’ management and staff need to recognise, we are not doing a favour to beneficiaries when we provide a benefit. We are custodians of the money that was paid by them and we have a moral and legal obligation to fulfil those claims”, he told the audience of mostly staff members.Dr Persaud encouraged staff members to take the few days ahead and reflect on their role in the organisation. He said NIS is a service provider, providing benefits that are enshrined in the law and are due to each contributor.“We need to stop treating people like they are defrauding the system and we need to immediately begin to provide better service to the people we serve. So when you reflect on your role, you need to ask yourself if this is the right place for you. If it is not, then please find the right place for yourself. You should not be working here if you are not happy and if you would not do the job,” he said.Speaking to the financial status of NIS, Persaud said the scheme seems to be in a rocky position, as it now spends more than it actually earns from contributions to satisfy benefits and operations. Persaud said the scheme is using money from its investments to pay out benefits and maintain operations. According to him, that is unsustainable.While the situation is not unique to Guyana and insurance schemes throughout the Caribbean, the Chairman stressed that Guyana needs to make a difference.“The NIS will not be allowed to fail. We are not going to tolerate incompetence and poor customer service. We cannot continue to treat our people, our own pensioners and our own Guyanese this way. It is unacceptable and it is wrong, so let us freshly commit to be better in the year ahead”.Meanwhile, the Scheme’s General Manager, Holly Greaves, presenting on the organisation’s financial performance, reported that at the end of December 2015, the fund stood at some $33.5 billion. However, it is projected that at the end of December this year, it will be just below $34 billion.“For the period January to August 2016, income from contributions collected was $12.5 billion or 70.6 per cent of the $17.7 billion budgeted, while total expenditure over the same period was approximately $12.6 billion or 71.6 per cent of its $17.6 billion budgetary allocation,” Greaves reported.According to her, the projections to the end of the year show that income would be approximately $19 billion while the projected expenditure would be approximately $18.6 billion.In terms of benefits, at the end of August 2016, the Scheme had expended $11.4 billion for benefit payments and it is projected that by the end of the year, this figure, she said, would increase to $16.4 billion. The Pension Branch – Old Age, Invalidity, Survivors – accounted for approximately 90 per cent of these payments. “There were over 47,000 pensioners on roll as at the end of August, 2016. Coupled with this, at the beginning of the year, increases were granted to the Funeral Benefit from $33,385 to $36,725 and the minimum rate for Old Age and Invalidity pensions was increased from $21,352 to $25,000 per month”.Greaves said notwithstanding the figures mentioned, an assessment of the current business and operating environments during the 2016 budgeted period revealed that there are other key issues that should not be overlooked by the Scheme that could have an impact on its income and operations.Meanwhile, the organisation also awarded several individuals, including employees with services between 20 and 40 years, along with bursaries to children whose parents are employees of the organisation.