PMís NY Message Gives Workers A Break open Increased SS Contributions

Prime Minister John Briceno presented his first New Year's Message this evening. It was posted on Facebook about two hours ago - and - as might be expected - it finds the new Prime Minister looking out across a sea of economic woe. Repeating what has now become a sort of refrain - he said "Belize bruk":

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"When we assume office we found the treasury empty. The former administration was borrowing 1 million dollars per day to meet expenses. Imagine, they had to borrow every single month to meet payroll. That is bankruptcy, pure and simple and we estimate that the Belizean economy will shrink by 15% in 2020. The overall fiscal deficit is now in excess of 500 million dollars or 12% of GDP and our debt to GDP will increase to 133%. The acceptable standard is 60%. While economist who analyses and keep track of these statistics will be alarmed by these figures, they tell a simple tail to all - Belize bruk."

Belize bruk - and PM Briceno says the former administration is to blame. So, he says in 2021, you'll be making sacrifices while former UDP officials may be making bail arrangements:

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"We will all be ask to make major sacrifices in 2021, as we seek to wright the ship of state. In good conscience before we ask Belizeans to do so those who brought us to this point must be held to account. In the days and weeks ahead my government will be revealing to the Belizean people the extent of the stealing, criminality and corruption as was perpetrated by the Barrow administration. Valuable lands are now in the hands of UDP cronies given away for a pittance. Contracts valued hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded to favorite contractors who failed to pay millions in taxes and fees. State enterprises bought properties at gross overvalues leaving institutions saddle with millions in debt for no legitimate purpose. Cronies signed contracts in the run up to the elections and are now demanding massive payouts to be release from contracts. Public officers were required to use government equipment and fuel to build roads on private properties and to clear massive ranches. The theft and corruption were widespread and unprecedented. This cannot, should not and will not be allowed to be forgotten. There will be investigations and where warranted criminal charges laid. Where appropriate, civil actions for recovery will be brought before the courts. There will be no sacred cows."

And Social security's bottom line is also not a sacred cow. As we reported two weeks ago SSB is bracing for a loss of approximately 22 million dollars in contribution revenue for 2020. The reason for this massive downturn is the many Belizeans, estimated to be somewhere between 31 thousand and 34 thousand, who were paying until they suddenly lost their jobs due to COVID. The acting CEO told us that the actuary is projecting those losses will have a significant impact on he fund. She said SSB was waiting on the final numbers form the actuary. Well, PM Briceno says they're in - and in pretty much the only good news coming out of his New Year's message - he said the new increased contributions slated to come into effect in January - will be deferred - meaning you won't get a bigger bite taken out of your paycheck:

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"An updated actuary report sent to the Social Security Board several weeks states that the impact of Covid19 on the actuary situation of the SSB has been less than anticipated. Therefore, as the Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Social Security along with Cabinet, we decided to postpone the increase in the payments that was due in 2021."

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