By Aaron Humes: Channel 5 News reports that the decision to use close to $400,000 in the Belize Tourism Board’s pension fund to pay employee salaries including upper management between July and November 2020 is being investigated.
After hearing a complaint from a former employee, the new Board has been questioning several persons.
The Tourism Board slashed its staff in half and cut salary for the rest by 25 percent via public announcement, but at some point, the former chair of the Board allegedly decided instead to dip into the Pension Fund, of which he was a trustee, to offset the salary cut.
Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler told Channel 5 News that what is being reviewed is the “inappropriate” use of excess funds in the pension fund for staff; and said that it was “a mistake” for trustees to approve payments from the fund to staff during the COVID-19 induced downturn.
Mahler said the former chairman, Einer Gomez, and embattled director Karen Bevans’ actions are being reviewed, but in Bevans’ case particularly, she is not the subject of a witch-hunt.
Bevans is suing the Government for defamation following comments made about her status with the Board shortly after general elections last year, but remains as Director.
Mahler said he is awaiting legal review before proceeding.