Categorized | Featured, National News

PM Surprised At NIB Bonuses

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The whopping figure suspended National Insurance Board (NIB) Director Algernon Cargill allegedly pocketed over the past two years surprised Prime Minister Perry Christie.

A leaked report claims Mr. Cargill took home a salary of over $393,000, three times more than the prime minister’s.

Of that figure, bonuses accounted for more than $194,000 between the months of January 8,, 2010 and May 1, 2012.

Mr. Cargill’s gas allowance was reportedly $12,000 while his duty allowance was $13,000.

The NIB director was last month placed on administrative leave.

“It is very surprising to me to see the development of salaries relative to other corporations and most certainly the question of bonuses. But we have to wait on the audit, which is due shortly I believe,” Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters yesterday before heading into his weekly Cabinet meeting.

“We have to look at National Insurance with a view to recognising the absolute significance of that fund and how go about ensuring we have in place the culture of understanding what a fiduciary responsibility means and how that should be exercised.”

As a former NIB minister, Mr. Christie admitted that in politics and in governance, it is not just about what you do, but what you are seen to do.

“The National Insurance Board has always been guided by actuarial assessments as to the wellbeing of the fund. The decision making of national insurance is matters of importance. It not only involves the chairman and the board of directors, but the minister and by law, there are also referrals to the minister of finance….As minister of finance, you will find that I will do the right thing.”

The fact that another NIB report has been leaked has many questioning what is fair game in terms of what information should or should not be released to the public and at the same token, what rights Bahamian public services workers have.

While Data Protection Commissioner, George Rodgers opted out of commenting on the issue, he told the Bahama Journal that as a general rule of thumb, individuals should only receive information from an organisation about themselves and no one else.

In fact, according to the Commission’s 2011 report, the Data Protection Act seeks to strike a balance between the rights of individuals and the sometimes competing interests of those with legitimate reasons for using personal information.

The report also clearly outlines the rights of individuals as well as those who have access to their information.

“I am always concerned about information being leaked, but at the same time, National Insurance is one entity where you’re accountable – if you do something in the dark, I expect it should come to light because there is an overall obligation to the people of the country to account for what you are doing,” Prime Minister Christie said.

Meanwhile NIB Minister Shane Gibson said it is “disgraceful” that the report was leaked.

“I think it is disgraceful that persons would seek to leak information on employees at any entity whether it’s government or private. But I am not going to add to it by discussing it,” he said.

“We are trying to do an investigation to determine how that information was leaked and why because I think it’s wrong. People’s personal information should be their personal information. And if we have to deal with certain situations when it comes before us then we deal with it and we know how to deal with it effectively without going to the press.”

Director of the Audit Committee and board member, Philip Beneby said most of the policies at NIB will be reviewed during its forensic audit.

“Where there are sufficient overages, we would like to tighten those up,” Mr. Beneby said during a press conference Sunday.

“At the end of the day, we have a duty to operate as effectively as we can.”

Written by Macushla Pinder

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