Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated Government’s commitment to digital transformation, saying it will improve the quality of service and efficiency in the country.
And, an aspect of this transformation, she said, will be seen from September 1, when the National Insurance Department (NID) no longer prints cheques for short-term benefits, such as unemployment, maternity and sickness.
Ms. Mottley shared these details on Saturday night when the National Insurance Scheme held its Virtual GEM Awards to celebrate its 53rd Anniversary. She said, however, that those who have difficulty securing bank or credit union accounts should speak to the NID.
“We are requesting that persons who register with the department submit their banking details to receive their payments electronically …. If you come forward and indicate the difficulties that you are experiencing, then we will be in a position to meet your concerns while at the same time meeting the absolute imperative of transitioning,” she stated.
The Prime Minister noted that the NID was the largest issuer of cheques on the island, with approximately 70,000 of them being issued every month, and pensioners receiving the largest volume.
“We must transform. We have, for more than 20 years, offered the option to lodge pensions to bank accounts. This option would allow pensioners to receive all four weeks’ pension in one payment, instead of the two two-week payment intervals of those receiving cheques. The department also facilitates four-week lodgments to pensioners with accounts at the major credit unions.
“Similarly, every month, increasing numbers of existing pensioners are registering to switch to the direct deposit option, and we encourage more to do so. All new pensioners will be required to provide bank or credit union account data for the lodging of their pension payments going forward. But the change has been a little too slow, and we now know why we need to accelerate,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley pointed out that persons who depended on cheques were particularly vulnerable. She said she was hopeful there would be a seamless transition to the electronic payments, adding that the Digital Ambassadors of the Ministry of Information, Science and Technology would assist those switching over.
Acting Director of NID, Jennifer Hunte, said the staff worked tirelessly to service the needs of claimants for unemployment, in addition to maintaining the other categories of service delivery.
“I know that the past three months have been stressful, demanding and at times emotionally draining for all of us. But this experience has reinforced my conviction that the National Insurance Office is made up of great employees,” Mrs. Hunte added.
She urged the staff to continue letting service above self be their focus. Awards presented during the night included: Employee of the Year – Sheldon Blades; Director’s Award – Leisa Wood; Supervisor of the Year – Steve Austin; Team of the Year – Records Management; Customer Service Excellence – Carol-Ann Smith and Justin Cumberbatch; and Academic Achiever – Renee Waterman.