Black lies matter most

By Raffique Shah
July 05, 2021

Raffique ShahOne night recently, the latter part of the television news still being broadcast, I had half-an-ear tuned in to it as I multi-tasked, maybe checking out something on my tablet or the hard drive in my head. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was on-screen, more than likely addressing her supporters, and I half-listened to what she was saying. ‘…and then there is the NIB…that is insolvent…’ I muttered audibly, ‘That’s a lie!’ ‘Why do you say that?’ my wife Rosina asked. I switched my focus to her, and explained in detail why I said Kamla was lying.

As I grow older and as Parkinson’s Disease chips away at one section of my brain, other components become super-active, compensating for diminishing returns on the vulnerable neurons that are targeted by PD.

In this instance, I knew Kamla was purposely lying. She will have known that actuaries review the NIB’s financial health regularly. They examine the demographics of the labour force, changes in wages and salaries, as well as adjustments to contributions and benefits, and just how the NIB manages its investment portfolios.

In fact, the NIB legislation that brought the social security net into being in 1971 was amended in 1999 (remember who was in power then?) to allow for increases in benefits and contributions. Warnings about the prospects of insolvency if nothing was done to boost contributions and control benefits came from the actuaries from as far back as in 2005. More retirees were reaching age 60 than young people joining the workforce to keep contributions ahead of benefits paid. The actuaries warned that if radical changes were not made to the NIB’s structure to reverse this trend, the organization could become insolvent.

They did not say it was insolvent then. It is not insolvent now. But it could be in another 20 years if significant changes were not made. Governments over the past 20 years—UNC and PNM, including the PP that was led by Kamla, knew of that threat. They ought to have taken steps to plug the leaks and stop the slide in what is effectively a compulsory insurance scheme that covers, or ought to cover, all employed persons in the country. None of them did—at least not thus far. Indeed, when the economy was turned upside-down and every-which-way other than up and running when Covid hit us broadside recently, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert announced, seemingly in shock, that ministry officials ‘discovered’ that large numbers of workers employed with reputable companies were not registered with the NIB as is the law.

The NIB boasts of having just over 600,000 citizens covered by its twenty-odd benefits. But many more remain outside the safety net that offer some minimum coverage during tough times—except they never bothered to validate their status until it’s too late. Worst of all are unscrupulous employers who make deductions from employees’ wages/salaries and never pay them to the NIB. That is a criminal offence for which they should be charged and maybe jailed.

Now, it makes no sense for Minister Imbert to walk around with actuarial reports that warn of impending doom down the road, if government does nothing to revive and restructure the NIS. Hell, if the roll of working adults is properly updated, we could be talking about close to one million citizens. Thus far, its assets and investment portfolios are valued at some staggering sum: I don’t know for sure, but I guess it’s more than TTD 30 billion.

I pause to remind readers that the managers of the USD 5.6 billion Heritage and Stabilisation Fund have done an excellent job. I know that they have more latitude than their counterparts at The NIB in terms of where they invest and how they manage to add 20%-+ annually to the HSF.

Still, with some creativity and much common sense, not to add strict policing of the compliance unit at The NIB, the insurance scheme can not only survive for the next fifty years or more, but can grow into the giant it was meant to be when it was founded in 1971.

These things said, sober citizens must question why Kamla would deliberately peddle a lie, saying that The NIB is ‘insolvent’ when she must know that is not true. The opposition leader is in trouble within her party and at the national level. Clearly she expects a badly-fractured Tobago and a financially-wounded PNM-in so far as the national economy goes-might offer a glimmer of hope to recover, and a remote chance of remaining a near-spent force on the national political landscape.

But to tell a blatant black lie that could negatively impact near 1 million NIB members is playing with fire. Be careful what you wish for, Kamla.

7 thoughts on “Black lies matter most”

  1. Capturing a “lie” made by the leader of the Opposition and making it the focus of an article is really not serving the readers with anything substantial. This “journalist” is more preoccupied with fulfilling his repeated role of PNM apologist in chief. He can no longer disguise his obvious political leaning.
    The more salient aspects of this topic were totally and incompetently ignored.
    The main and most important point of relevance on the NIB issue is the long term sustainability in light of decreasing contributions and increasing claims. The Finance Minister issued these warnings recently and is attempting to solicit ideas from a variety of interests to ensure future sustainability of the NIS.
    The writer’s focus on the Opposition leader’s rhetoric displays an immaturity very similar to the useless unproductive, arrogant rantings displayed by parliamentarians to gain favor with their supporters.

  2. Women of Kamla’ nature, usually fall on their faces when the end is near. Implanting HINDUTVA values into Trinidad politics, have expose for all who want to see the RASCISM (Kamla) that is the make up of NATIONALIST HINDUTVA. For 70yrs of her incarnation, She has been one of Trinidad’ most established HATERS, while professing to be a “leader.” UNC backed employers, Doctors, lawyers are all into privateering, Doubles vendors making enormous profits while giving nothing back to the State, they employ those who look and think like them, the SUDRAS that says nothing and does everything. UNC employers hire their African supporters at take it or leave it wages with no benefits, or overtime pay, contributions to the NIB? that’s a NO/NO. The UNC puts tremendous pressure on the Gov’t to pay compensation whenever a little rain fall to people who contribute nothing, the greatest of all double dippers. Kamla’ over the years, have not come across as a MOTHER figure or NURTURER, but very argumentative, the hallmarks of years of being INTOXICATED have diminished all she was expected to become. Kamla shoots from the mouth, while her heart remains CLOUDED with HATE. She had an enormous hand in Mr Rowleys administration shutting down the economic generating asset of Trinidad, SHE said and did nothing. Contributing workers of Petrotrin is no more, denying tremendous amounts to the NIB fund, a JUDAS woman she is, Kamla rather see the Petrotrin assets become nothingness than seek parliament codification to put the Nations children back to work. A CALLOUS woman is a disgrace to her race, Trinidad have had its full share of Kamla’ Arrogance, Hyper-Nationalism and Bureaucratic In-competence. While the SHAMSHAN cremating grounds continue to be over whelmed , we need to pause and reflect on the past year plus, if looking from the 3rd eye, one will see the FOOT and FINGER prints of Kamla and the UNC in everything wrong Trinidad. The UNC and KAMLA need to know, that “Free speech is not about creating DESCENSION in SOCIETY, nor is Freedom of CONSCIENCE about Empowering Giant Religious Institutions”. Take note KPB, Trinidad needs HINDUISM in its true form, not HINDUTVA, burn it on the TAWA, if one is still being “USED.”

  3. …so says “COUSIN” Siewdath, apologist in chief for UNC/COP/DNA…It’s now even more obvious why Siewdath (Tman) liked Kirk so much…

    1. Well well Inconvenient I see you have a disciple in Bobbie Cooper.
      “ Implanting HINDUTVA values into Trinidad politics, have expose for all who want to see the RASCISM (Kamla) that is the make up of NATIONALIST HINDUTVA”
      What is Hinduvta it is BJP fostered concept promoted in India. To accuse Kamla of racism shows the shallow level of thinking in Bobbie Cooper. Kamla gave laptops to all Africana children benefitted from it. The $500 she gave to unwed mothers with children would have targeted more Africana women. When she completed the Scarborough Hospital in Tobago, the Carenage Health Center and started the Arima and Point Fortin Hospitals was that racism? Mr. Cooper. Those hospitals were built in PNM areas. The one she built in a UNC constituency only opened after the PNM j*ckasses bray for some time in Parliament.

      Kamla had 22 Cepep projects going on in Laventille , Rowley reduced it to 2. Kamla had unemployment at 3.5% the lowest in the Western Hemisphere, under Rowley 103,000 citizens on the breadline. Kamla never raised taxes but lowered it, Rowley raised gas taxes three times, vat tax increased and introduce a host of other tax measures. I could go on.

      Kian, Birdie, Yoruba and Inconvenient come on this board and only spew racist rhetoric. This after the PM, the President, the Chief Justice, the three mediums of power is controlled by African people. The nation is sinking in debt and like Zambia is set to become a Chinese satellite nation, $10 billion in loans, Pitch lake paving the tarmac in Beijing Airport, the Tobago Airport extension gone to the Chinese. Billions in contracts for the Chinese, one can only imagine the size of the kickbacks.

      Yes back to the delusional rant of Birdie, Trinidad is not India, Hindus control nothing in TnT. The media is controlled by the 1%, the government contracts are going to the 1% and Chinese. 75% of government jobs, housing are going to African people. Yes this race thing with Kian, Yoruba, Birdie and Inconvenient is a disease.

      I have met people like Birdie, I remember a black man all he could talk about is race. His wife was an Indian lady, she used to steupes all the time. He started to accuse various people of racism. People like that I stay far away from. It is a mental illness.

  4. Mamoo, I’ve noticed you are calling my name frequently on your racist, lying posts. I have no desire to have a dialogue with you. You are just a low intellect, racist moron who doesn’t even know how dotish you sound. Anybody with any intelligence who reads your posts can see your low intellect. Don’t be calling my name you racist scum, leave my name out of your filth, you dotish piece of ….

    1. Yes I notice that too, sorry chum…humblest apologies…..I am sure you are a decent human being. Peace.

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