The Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, in partnership with the National Bank of Belize Limited, Digi, and Belize Social Investment Fund, is launching a cash-transfer program to provide support to vulnerable households affected by COVID-19.

The Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer Program (BCCAT) will provide supplementary short-term emergency cash to households that have not qualified for other social assistance schemes. Beneficiaries will receive approximately $150 to $600 per month depending on the household composition. So far, 36,000 beneficiaries have been assessed through the Food Assistance Program for the cash-transfer with priority being placed on poor families with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons living with a physical disability.

The BCCAT application will be open to the public from December 15 to 23, 2020, for families who meet the eligibility requirement and did not apply in the first instance. Households that apply will be required to participate in a poverty assessment and must meet the program’s eligibility criteria in order to benefit. Countrywide screening and enrolment into BCCAT are being conducted in eight phases.

BCCAT beneficiaries will be notified of their successful application and payment dates using MobilePayz, a new mobile payment solution developed by Digi. The application will allow beneficiaries to cash out their funds using their mobile phones. Beneficiaries will be notified of their payment amount, when and where to collect via bi-monthly text messages.

A series of informational ads, frequently asked questions, a website, and two hotlines are being created to provide information on the program design, eligibility requirements, appeals process and payment timelines.

The BCCAT program is being funded by the Government of Belize with funds from the World Bank, which has allocated BZ$19 million to provide financial assistance to over 18,000 households during a six-month period.

For further information on the BCCAT, applicants can call the Ministry’s hotline 0-800-MHD-HELP or 0-800-CALL-MHD during normal working hours (Monday to Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or visit humandevelopment.gov.bz/bccat.

Applications for the BCCAT Program are now open. Click the photo below for more details.

Interested applicants who believe they meet the BCCAT eligibility criteria can sign up by calling the phone numbers listed on the flyer or can fill out the online intake form:

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***WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE (BCCAT) BELIZE COVID-19 CASH TRANSFER PROGRAM***

The Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer Program, also known as BCCAT will help poor and vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 and its economic hardship by providing temporary cash support. The social assistance program is implemented by the Ministry of Human Development, Families & Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs in partnership with the National Bank of Belize Limited, Digi, and Belize Social Investment Fund.

Eligibility and Application Processes

Who is eligible for the BCCAT program?

Poor families:

• With one or more of the following household members: pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons living with a physical disability

• Who are NOT receiving any of the following government social assistance programs - BOOST, the Unemployment Relief Program, Food Pantry, Social Security Board’s contributory or non-contributory pension schemes; and

• Who have been severely impacted by the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.

How are beneficiaries selected for the BCCAT program?

To be selected for BCCAT, households must be identified as poor through a screening process using a certified poverty assessment tool to measure the families’ social and living conditions.

The information is saved in a database where it is processed and the poorest families with Belizean household members from one or more of the groupings below are selected.

1. Pregnant women
2. Children aged 0-4
3. Children aged 5-17
4. Persons aged 60 years or older
5. Persons who are physically disabled

Given the large number of households that previously applied for the COVID Food Assistance Program, all applicants from that program were screened and assessed for BCCAT. This process included verification of household information submitted for their Food Assistance application. Households that were not eligible for Food Assistance did not go through a verification screening as these households did not meet the criteria for BCCAT. These households were each assigned a unique MIS number. Additionally, an open application period for persons who did not apply for Food Assistance and wish to be considered for BCCAT will run from December 15, 2020, to December 23, 2020.

What would exclude a family from receiving the cash benefits from the BCCAT program?

Families will not be approved for the BCCAT temporary cash-transfer program if:

1. At least one member of the household is receiving benefits from the following social assistance programs:
a. Unemployment Relief Program
b. BOOST
c. Food Pantry Programme
d. Any contributory or non-contributory pension scheme

2. Non-poor families based on the poverty assessment tool.

I did not apply for the Food Assistance Program, but I believe I meet the requirements for BCCAT, how can I apply?

Applicants can call any of the Ministry cell numbers listed on the advertisement and request for a BCCAT poverty assessment to be conducted on their household. Applicants will need to provide social security numbers for all members of the household in the first instance. Following the poverty assessment, a verification process is conducted to confirm the details provided in the applications and applicants are required to provide the Ministry with a copy of their social security cards, birth certification, or immunization records and perinatal clinic card for pregnant women. The BCCAT application will be open to the public from December 15, 2020, to December 23, 2020.

What do you use my social security number for?

During the interview, the Ministry representative will request for social security numbers for all members of the home, the social security numbers are used to confirm the age and identity for each member of the family.

If your application is approved, you will be requested to submit certain legal documents to the Ministry assigned WhatsApp number for verification and enrollment.

Notification and Enrolment

How will I be notified if I am eligible for BCCAT or not?

Once selected based on the eligibility criteria, BCCAT beneficiaries will be enrolled in the program in phases. Beneficiaries will be notified of their selection via phone call by a Ministry representative and of their payment dates through an SMS message from a short code 150.

Applicants who did not qualify for the BCCAT program will receive an SMS message from the Ministry of Human Development notifying them of their unsuccessful application. The SMS message will say the following:

“Dear XXX, we are sorry to tell you that you have not qualified for the Belize COVID Cash Transfer Program. If you want to appeal, please call MHD on 0-800-MHD-HELP (for Digi customers) or 0-800-CALL-MHD (for SMART customers).”

*The Appeal process will be opened for unapproved applicants starting from December 17 to January 8*

Payments

How much will beneficiaries receive?

Benefit amounts for BCCAT households are determined based on the number of household members in eligible beneficiary categories. As such, BCCAT does not provide the same amount for all beneficiary households. The exact amounts per household are confirmed during the verification process.

How long will beneficiaries receive their cash benefits?

Beneficiaries will be able to cash-out every two months for a six-month period from January 2021 to June 2021.

How will beneficiaries receive their cash benefits?

BCCAT beneficiaries will receive their cash benefits through a mobile payment solution called MobilePayz. MobilePayz will allow beneficiaries to cash out their funds using their mobile phones.

Beneficiaries will receive an SMS message from Digi with the payment amount and when and where to collect the cash benefits. Beneficiaries can use a DigiCell or Smart Mobile service to receive the SMS message about their payment. Beneficiaries can visit the Digi stores countrywide or National Bank of Belize locations to cash out their cash benefits.

Opening hours for Digi stores and National Bank of Belize locations are Monday to Friday from 8 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm.

*Note: no banking information will be required.

Why is it important to have an active mobile number?

The mobile number that is given will be used to send you an SMS message to inform you that your cash benefit is ready and the location to go to collect your money.

The mobile number given to the Ministry representative must be active to receive the SMS message every two months. The mobile number with the SMS message must be taken during your visit to the Digi or National Bank of Belize offices to show the agent. The agent will look at the SMS message and give you the amount of money stated in the message.

I do not have an active mobile number, what should I do?

If a beneficiary of the BCCAT program does not have an active mobile number, please call us on our Hotline numbers: 0-800-MHD-HELP (Digi Customers) or 0-800-CALL-MHD (SMART Customers) to make your report.

Is it possible for beneficiaries to update his/her mobile number to receive the payment SMS message?

Yes, as a beneficiary of the BCCAT program you can update your mobile number by contacting the Ministry of Human Development office or Ministry Hotline to register your new mobile number. A Ministry representative will request for the name and social security number for the person responsible for cashing out the monthly benefits.

Is it possible for an authorized person to cash-out my benefits on my behalf?

Yes, you can contact the Ministry of Human Development office in your district or the Ministry Hotline to register an authorized person to collect your monthly cash benefits. Additionally, you can access the authorization form on the BCCAT Website at humandevelopment.gov.bz/bccat. An authorized person is only allowed for beneficiaries with a physical disability, an ill person or an elderly with mobility issues.

Can a beneficiary change the authorized person assigned to cash-out their benefits?

Yes, you can change the authorized person responsible for collecting your benefits by visiting the nearest Ministry of Human Development office or calling the Ministry office in your district to request a new authorization form for the new authorized person to fill out. You can also access the authorization form on the BCCAT Website at humandevelopment.gov.bz/bccat. Return the form to the Ministry of Human Development office along with the social security card for the new authorized person before your next payment date.

Appeals and Complaints

My application was not approved, how can I appeal?

If you believe that your application should have met the requirements for approval, you can submit your application for administrative review.

You can call or visit the Ministry offices in your district or call the Hotline number to submit your application for a review. A Ministry representative will request the following information from you to find your application in the social registry.

a. Full Name
b. MIS# (Unique number given to all applications assessed)
c. Social Security number
d. Contact number

The Ministry representative will review your application with you and submit the application to the BCCAT management team. Your application will be re-processed in the social registry to determine your social and living conditions. Only poor families will be selected for the BCCAT program.

A Ministry representative will call you with an update on your application status within 3 working days.

Do I need to pay a fee before or after I collect my benefits?

The cash that you receive is to help your family during this difficult time. No fees should be charged during cash-out. If you are asked to pay a fee before or after you collect your money, please report this to your nearest Digi store or National Bank of Belize office or on the Hotline numbers: 0-800-FOR-DIGI or 0-800-NBB-HELP.

How can a beneficiary make a complaint about the BCCAT program?

We have a system in place that is confidential and safe for you to make a complaint. Beneficiaries or non-beneficiaries can call us on our Hotline numbers: 0-800-MHD-HELP (Digi Customers) or 0-800-CALL-MHD (SMART Customers).

Beneficiaries can also visit the humandevelopment.gov.bz/bccat to fill out the online complaint form.

Who do I contact for more information on the Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer program?

To ask more questions about the BCCAT program, you can use one of three ways:

- You can walk in to any of the Ministry of Human Development offices

- Call us at 0-800-MHD-HELP (Digi Customers) or 0-800-CALL-MHD (SMART Customers); or

- Visit our BCCAT Website at humandevelopment.gov.bz/bccat