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Pension reform: Prime Minister outlines plan to secure workers’ contributions

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2023. 9:22 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: New entrants into the Public Service after July 1, 2023, will be expected to pay five percent of their salaries as contribution into a pension scheme, with Government paying five percent of the listed salary on top of that, as outlined by Prime Minister John Briceño.

This follows an agreement reached with the Joint Unions Negotiating Team (JUNT) including the Public Service Union (PSU), Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), and Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) last week.

And while the PSU publicly baulked at all workers contributing to a pension scheme for the Public Service, the P.M. says some, most likely newer entrants, will have to: “Phase two is, we are saying that we have to sit down with the unions to say, okay, where is the cutoff point? Of course, they would like to keep things as they are and say only the new ones, but we can’t. We owe it to the Belizean people. The idea is twofold, to be able to get to a cutoff point, be it people that have served twenty years, fifteen years, depends on the negotiations. Let us say people that have worked for more than fifteen years in the system will stay in the non-contributory pension scheme and those under fifteen years will have to start to contribute to their pension.”

Under former Prime Minister Said Musa, Briceño noted, in 2004 the pension bill was around $30 million – it has more than tripled since then and something must be done to get it under control: “It has to be done. There are neither ifs nor buts. The irony of it all is that we are making these decisions that will not benefit our government, because as a government we will not be able to get the real benefit of what we are doing until all these people have come out of the system.”

 

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