Social Security holds public consultation on proposed increase in contribution wage bands
The Belize Social Security Board (SSB) has publicly denied the rumours of any increase in the contribution wage bands for 2017. However, at a public consultation on Tuesday, January 17th in San Pedro Town, the SSB engaged island residents in a discussion regarding a possible increase in the contributions for 2018.
The consultation was led by General Manager of Policy and Programs at SSB, Chandra Cansino, who explained that if approved, the new increase will primarily affect persons that are making a salary between $300 to $500 dollars per week. According to her, employers will also be affected by the new norm once the increase is approved. “The contributions that the employers make will be affected to some extent, however, in order to finalize by how much, we need to have more conversations with employers, and unions as to how the distribution will be in regards to that,” said Cansino.
She emphasized that currently, nothing is final, and that the new proposal is just an opportunity to change the current system SSB has been using for the past years, which limits benefits and puts a strain on the institution. “We want to continue engaging the public and get their feedback on the proposed increase,” said Cansino. “We want to know if you think it is a good idea or not, and what are some recommendations and suggestions we can get from everyone.”
Cansino explained that the percentage for contributions will not change, and it will remain at its actual 8%. “The proposed increase will reflect according to what your earnings are,” she said. She also indicated that in Central America, Belize has the lowest percentage of SSB contributions and the second lowest in the Caribbean.
Before the presentations ended, the audience was provided with some details of what the benefits will be for both employees and employers if the proposal is approved. “Of course, the more you contribute, the better the benefits will be,” said Cansino. According to her, the new system will allow workers with higher incomes to ensure a higher portion of earnings, which at the end will result in higher benefits. “Benefits will be kept in line with normal progression of salaries. Also it will allow insured persons access to higher pensions more in align to actual earnings,” explained Cansino.
As for employers, they will benefit via a reduction in direct cost for employees on leaves, such as maternity. The weekly benefit payments will be greatly reduced under the new wage bands. Cansino also stated that the direct cost for employees on sickness benefit for the first 16 days will also see a reduction in payments for employers.
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