OPPOSITION Senator Khadijah Ameen said a measure to exempt Venezuelan migrants from accessing the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) was so vague it could be applied at will by the Finance Minister to other individuals.
She spoke in the Senate on Monday on the Miscellaneous Provisions Bill that also affects access to public information.
“The minister has indicated it is meant to deal with migrants, but he doesn’t only have to stick to that. The minister could determine what is ‘uninsurable employment’ even outside of migrants.” She urged Parliament not to give the minister such blanket powers. Ameen said the exclusion of Venezuelan migrants violated their rights under the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“Thousands would be paying but never make a claim. NIB turns a profit every year. You can’t tell me a few migrants who might make a claim, who might get injured or who might get pregnant, will send the National Insurance Board into disarray.”
Ameen said this measure gives employers an incentive to hire a migrant over a TT national. “It puts our citizens at an unfair disadvantage.”
On the tax amnesty, she suggested that even late-payers outside the amnesty period should be charged penalties that were not too excruciating but facilitative.
“It should be considered because taxes are one of the measures the Government is heavily relying on.” Ameen opposed a pension hike for top office-holders.
“We are in a period when many people are not losing their pensions alone, but losing their jobs.” She lamented that people like teachers and nurses who have built this country’s social fabric are now classed as the working poor.
“Even back pay for police officers is being restricted and they cannot protest. They are being taken advantage of and being told to tighten their belt.