The Minister made the comments on JTV’s The Big Story with host Cathy O. Richards, on Monday, September 13, 2021, where he said that urgent reform is needed to remedy the situation.
According to the minister, part of the genesis of the problem is that employers are still deducting monies for NHI and Social Security however, not making those contributions to the institutions on behalf of their staff.
“You can’t run a country like that… you are doing bad business and you are damaging the financial base for these institutions. They are based on the population giving their contributions in,” he said.
Another issue the Minister highlighted, is that expat workers who come to the country on one work permit, are seeking work elsewhere and getting paid ‘off the books’ and hence, no contributions can be made to NHI and Social Security.
He said in the event that persons fall ill, the state still must ensure that these persons are properly taken care of.
“We have to get that problem fixed, it’s a challenging problem… it should have been fixed years [but] it has gotten so bad now, getting it turned around is a monster, as opposed to a baby,” Hon Wheatley said.
When questioned on whether the government is willing to provide some type of amnesty, the minister said payment plans are available and that persons who have not been up-to-date since the hurricanes of 2017 are giving the option of paying in terms to remedy the situation.
According to the Minister, another challenge in fixing the issue is that because persons have not paid in such a long time, it can almost seem impossible for them to pay off the amount owed under a payment plan given.
Hon Wheatley hinted that some legislative changes may have to come to allow for an amicable solution to the problem.