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NIB records $200k in fraud

Unemployment fraudsters have taken the National Insurance Board(NIB)for around$200,000 in the last year,Guardian Businesscan reveal, despite the board’s efforts to crack down on such offenders.

“The numbers are down from last year, but nevertheless people are still trying to fraud the scheme,”NIB Director Algernon Cargill told Guardian Businesslast week.”We still have over 100 active cases with police… these are people who claim to be unemployed and claim benefits.

“We get updates every month and when it is detected we refer the matters to the police.”He said each individual before the police can account from anywhere from$1500 to$2000 in fraudulent claims.

The organization was able to make up ground in another area, however, recording a significant reduction in the amount of sick claims.

“We’ve seen a 20 percent reduction in that area,” Cargill added.”That’s$2.5 million that we’ve realized in savings from 2009 to 2010.”

It’s a decrease that reflects a cutback in dishonest claims from people stating they were off from work and receiving NIB benefits, while still at work.

Cargill said measures like the Med 4 form have gone a long way in contributing to the viability of the fund. The level of such cases were reduced with the implementation of the form, with 2008’s claims at around$12 million compared to last year’s near$11 million. The reduction comes as the fund prepares to increase the contribution rates by 2 percent. Measures like the Med 4 form, said Cargill, will lead to a fund that is managed more efficiently.

Currently the wage ceiling stands at$400, which means that contributions are made based on up to$400 of a contributor’s weekly wage even if that person makes more than$400 per week. The 2010 Amendments to the National Insurance Benefit and Contribution Regulations would increase the wage ceiling to$500 in January 2011 and$600 in July 2012.

After July 2012, the ceiling would be adjusted every two years in the month of July. The size of each increase would be determined by using the Bahamas Retail Price Index plus two percent.

The wage ceiling hasn’t been adjusted since 1999.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham earlier noted that half of the people who contribute to NIB contribute based on a$400 a week or more salary. He said 74 percent of government workers make$400 or more a week. He added that roughly 15,000 people employed by government would be affected by the wage ceiling increase.

As it relates to the increase in the contributions of civil servants, Ingraham explained that in 1984 when the wage ceiling was first increased from$110 to$250 per week, the new ceiling applied to all workers. However, a decision was taken in 1985 to roll back this ceiling increase for pensionable civil servants. As a result of this decision, he said refunds were given to workers and the government for the contributions they made on wages between$110 and$250 per week.

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