Facing a backlash over his claims that the NIS is bankrupt because of the laying off of sugar workers under the former government, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo today sought to clarify his statement.
The APNU+AFC opposition has reminded Jagdeo that it was under his watch as President that money from the NIS was used to invest in various projects including the Berbice Bridge and the Clico company.
At a press conference this afternoon, Mr. Jagdeo defended using money from the NIS to invest in the Berbice bridge project.
“It was one of the best investments for the NIS. So to say that the bridge somehow caused this problem with the NIS, it’s a fallacy,” Vice President Jagdeo said.
According to the Vice President, the aim is to ensure that the NIS is returned to profitability, but in the meantime ensuring it’s sustainability. He admitted however, that the NIS Financial woes, started before the coalition took office in 2015, but he maintained that the state of the entity’s finances deteriorated under the coalition.
“And I pointed out that under APNU the fund went into deficit and bankruptcy basically—formally into bankruptcy, although even before APNU we had issues with the benefit…In 2015 it (NIS) had an operating surplus of $968m, in 2016 $161m, in 2017 $175m in deficit, in 2018 $1.6B in deficit, in 2019, $1B in deficit and in 2020, $1.7B in deficit. So this is what has happened it has moved from an operating surplus to an operational deficit,” Jagdeo says as he defended his statement.
The Vice President said whereas the laws stipulate an increase in benefits and payments from his NIS, those obligations would be honored but at this time, such a commitment to increase benefits cannot be made.