A High Court judge has granted a Chaguanas man permission to sue Finance Minister Colm Imbert, over his failure to lay the National Insurance Board’s (NIB) annual reports for 2019 and 2020.
Justice Margaret Mohammed, on Thursday, granted leave to Chan Rampersad, of Enterprise, to pursue his judicial review claim which he has to file in 14 days.
Rampersad’s application says under the National Insurance act, the board is required to publish its annual report within three months of the end of the financial year. It also said the minister had the statutory duty to lay the reports before Parliament, two months after he receives it.
Rampersad is seeking two declarations that the minister breached or omitted to perform his statutory duty under the Act to lay the reports and was guilty of unreasonable delay.
The claim alleges the last time an annual report for the NIB was laid in Parliament was January 11, 2019, for the financial year 2018.
“Since then, no further annual report of the board has been laid in Parliament by the minister.”
The lawsuit also says the minister has provided no reason for the “unreasonable delay” in laying the reports in Parliament.
“The Minister continues to refrain from making any mention of the board’s 2019 and 2020 annual reports. The lawfulness of his conduct is challenged herein,” they said, as they claimed that Imbert has provided no reasons for the delay in performing his statutory duty. They claim that their client was especially concerned by the absence of the reports, as Imbert has recently used the contents of the 2018 report to justify the Government’s ongoing consideration of raising the retirement age from 60 to 65.
“Citizens ought to be informed as to the current status of the country’s National Insurance Fund before being mandated to work an additional five years to access the public benefit, which they have been contributing to,” they said.
“The applicant is concerned about the compromised social safety net, as well as the vulnerable persons in the country and has hence decided to file this claim for judicial review,” they added.
Rampersad is being represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Saddam Hosein, Che Dindial, Natasha Bisram and Jesse Rampersad.
Mohammed adjourned the matter to August 30.