Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Kelvin Charles has called on the National Insurance Board (NIB) to partner with the THA to fight Tobago’s “high” illiteracy problem.
Speaking at the official opening of the NIBTT’s Tobago Service Center at Fincor Building, Bacolet Street, Scarborough, yesterday, Charles, also Secretary of Education, said the “high” illiteracy rate must be addressed “urgently and decisively.”
He added: “To the extent that we have a high proportion of our young people being unable to read, to that extent I suggest that if we don’t move to treat with that social ill then some of the unintended consequences that we want to avoid as we build this island, it will be difficult to avoid.”
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy, who also spoke, asked officials of NIB to find innovative ways to enlighten Tobago’s population about the corporation’s services.
She said I want to encourage NIBTT to continue to work towards creating new and innovative ways to reach our people whether through print media, face to face or online.”
She also encouraged Tobagonians to “be proactive and seek information about new things, reinvesting and its potential benefits” and noted that they “must become seekers and consumers of innovation and information.”
Executive Director of NIB Naila Persad–Poliah called for legislative reform to the NIB operations as benefit expenditure exceeds collected contributions.
“Out of a population of 61,000, the number of registered employers in Tobago stands at just 950 employers. There are just over 8,500 benefit recipients who collectively receive in excess of $245 million for the financial year,” she said.
Expressing similar sentiments, chairman of the NIB Jacqueline Quamina said the time has come for citizens to support the need for changes to the National Insurance System.
“The parameters of an investment fund cannot remain static while Tobago, the environment, the demography and the economy in which we operate continues to change,” Quamina said.