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The Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce President Kiran Singh

The Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce is advising the government to seriously consider increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 or 70 years.

Chamber president Kiran Singh says this could assist in reducing the amount of money the state has to pay to pensioners on a monthly basis.

“We have an ageing population and this is creating a tremendous demand on the National Insurance Board (NIB).”

He says if we are not careful the NIB could end up in financial problems in the near future because it is so heavily subscribed.

Singh made the comments while discussing the upcoming budget on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday.

In April last year then Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West told the Senate that consultations were underway to possibly increase NIS contributions and raise the retirement age from 60 to 65.

”Reform of the national insurance system by way of recommendations outlined in the actuarial reviews is now critical to the long-term sustainability of the national insurance system,” she said.

Singh also said the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on South businesses has been disastrous and many are at their “wit’s end.”

He appealed to the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert not to implement any new taxes in this fiscal package.

“No new taxes, please, we can’t afford to pay any additional tax, our financial burdens are increasing exponentially.”

He pointed to the contentious Property Tax and while he agrees that taxes need to be paid on properties, “now may not be the right time to implement such a measure.”

Rather, Singh suggested that Minister Imbert utilise the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund to help with the expected large budget deficit.

“The Heritage and Stabilisation Fund which was created for the proverbial rainy day is right now. Right now we are in a thunderstorm. We need to have access to tap into this fund in the short term to relieve the pressures on the deficit.”

He said the government can also look at external borrowing or government bonds.

The 2020/2021 budget will be delivered on October 5.