Social Security to implement changes January 1st

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 47            December 21, 2000

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The Government of Belize has announced that the proposed package of improvements to the Social Security Scheme will be in effect as of January 1, 2001.

    Improvements and changes to be implemented were presented to and discussed with the general public and the media, at meetings held countrywide in June. Further consultations were carried out with the Belize Chamber of Commerce, the Belize Business Bureau, and the National Trade Union Congress, representatives of employers and insured persons in Belize.

    Changes include Sickness, Maternity, Employment Injury, Retirement, Invalidity and Survivors' benefits. There will be an immediate increase of a minimum of 20% to all existing pensions on January 1st, 2001. Insured persons will also be covered for accidents suffered while going from home to work and from work to home. An expanded Contributions Schedule will also provide for high-end income earners to be adequately covered in the event of sickness and other contingencies.

    To support the increase in cash benefits for sickness, injury or maternity benefits, contributions have increased. In the past, anyone receiving a salary higher than $110 per week would pay a weekly contribution of $9.10 (employer - $7.80/employee - $1.30 for a total of $9.10) and receive a maximum benefit of $104 weekly regardless of their income. The new rates, above this mark, start with $140. - $179.99 weekly earnings (weekly contributions from employer - $8.85/employee - $2.35 for a total of $11.20) receiving $128.00 benefits. The rates then scale in increments up to weekly earnings of $300 or more (weekly contributions of employer - $14.45/employee - $7.95 for a total of $22.40) receiving $256.00 in weekly benefits.

    A fact sheet with all the modernizing changes is available to the public at all Social Security offices (San Pedro Sub-office is located at the Island Plaza on Barrier Reef Drive, phone 2625). Contact with the local San Pedro office disclosed that new employer contribution forms with these changes are not available as yet.

    For more information on Social Security, contact your local office, check their website at socialsecurity.org.bz or e-mail BSSBPR@btl.net.



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