Social Security Board slashes operating costs by $23 Million Print E-mail
( 1 Vote )
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 21 June 2019 00:00

Hard working Belizean workers and employers countrywide are being asked to make a bigger weekly contribution to the Social Security Board. It’s an important increase that should have taken place at least 7 years ago, but in just the same way that more is being asked of the general public to help keep the Social Security Fund viable for future generations, the management of SSB is doing their part as well. SSB is working diligently to reduce their annual operational costs, so that those savings can be put to better use.

The leaders of the SSB have convinced the trade unions, the business community, and other civil society organizations that with their 5 year plan, the Fund will benefit from almost 23 million dollars in cost-saving measures.

In the press conference that the Social Security called to respond to the PUP’s mischief, Dr. Colin Young, the Chief Executive Officer of SSB, was asked about the public concern that the Fund was being managed responsibly, when incurring operational costs to run the business of providing social security benefits and services to the Belizean public.

Young said, “We’ve put in place a plan that would see SSB become more efficient, over the next 5 years. In fact, we’ve presented a plan that showed them that we would save essentially, almost 23 million dollars in operation costs by 2025 from a number of actions that we’re doing.”

The first area of focus for the SSB is to take a close look into all the sub-offices that they have countrywide. One of  the reasons why operational costs are high is because Social Security maintains fully functional offices in every district. In the case of the Stann Creek District, there is one in both Independence Village, and Dangriga Town. There will be consideration if some of these offices are redundant in any kind of manner, and where it is determined that the SSB is able to close an office, they will do so. In fact, Social Security has already closed their offices in the Free Zone, in Spanish Lookout, and in Caye Caulker.

There is also observation of the cost to replace the social security cards for each contributor, and what savings can be realized there. SSB has also embarked on an energy efficiency project, where the light bulbs in all the offices countrywide are being replaced with LED variants, which consume less electricity. They are trying to cut the cost of the monthly electricity bills to run these offices.

Also, the benefit payments that the Social Security Board processes daily for the needy contributors have been streamlined to cut the costs in bank fees that the Fund incurs. The banks were charging SSB for all cheques that the contributors were approved to receive. That’s how SSB disbursed payments, but now, they will do so via mandatory direct deposits. That saves the Fund $13,000 a month, due to the differences in fees.

The wage bill of Social Security has also been reined in for an extended period of time. There is a moratorium on the hiring of new staff at SSB, at the lower ranks.

Also, to date, 43 million dollars has been spent out of the Social Security Fund to run National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. By 2010, the Government saw it prudent to remove that burden from the Social Security Board, and the expenditure needed to run the program is now covered under the Government’s recurrent revenue.

One final program that is costing the SSB 48 million dollars and counting, is the pro-poor initiative known as the Non-Contributory Pension. The recipients of these benefits are Belizeans who are indigent, and cannot contribute to the fund, but who are in need of the financial assistance. The SSB has proposed a plan to the Government that they take on the financial burden of the program, since there is concern among the social partners that persons who do not pay money into the fund, ought not to gain benefit from it either.