The SSB has carried out consultations with social partners including the Belize Chamber of Commerce and the National Trade Union Congress, who have approved the increase. The Opposition has also heard from SSB, but did not declare a position until it is discussed by parliamentarians next week. Today Opposition Leader John Briceno raised concerns on the issue.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader
“Whenever you talking about raising rates it has a direct impact on business, on the cost of doing business, on the pockets of both not only the employer but the employee and there the government is talking about paying a three phase plan in raising not only the amount that they would charge but they expanding the bands so that in effect they would be able to charge more money, but one of the fundamental questions that we need to ask ourselves is that this government has been using Social Security as a piggy bank and for all the so called project: BTL, BEL, BWSL and maybe in Central Bank buying bonds and stuff like that and that has created a problem for instance Belize Electricity Limited we’ve seen for the past three years how the dividends has been going down from about five million to four million and this year they got nothing, zero for the investment that they have done in Belize Electricity Limited, this is the people’s money that the government, the Prime Minister and the UDP have been playing poker with the monies of the workers and so before we even think about increasing rates and charging more I think we need to take a hard look at how the government has been dictating to the Social Security Board what investments they have been making and we need to question how good those investments were and if we are getting a return on investment that is good enough that we be able to continue to keep Social Security solvent. Well, it is going to affect business because it will cost them more to do business their expenses are going to go up and as it is is right now business is slow and most people are telling you that they are not doing good right now and then to put in an added burden on the business community it will have a negative effect on some businesses and to the employer and employees that their wages have been stagnant, they are not getting pay raises and then you are here taking out more from them, now mind you the flip side to this whole thing is that Social Security is so important because it give some kind of security to the employee when they are sick and also when they retire so we need to find the right balance.”
The PUP will meet next Wednesday, ahead of the House of Representatives meeting to discuss and arrive at a position on the issue.