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Are BDF Soldiers working past Retirement Age?

A complaint reaching our news desk today is that some officers in the Belize Defense Force are working past their retirement age and therefore illegally employed. Additionally, there is concern that these officers are hindering the promotions of other officers within the force. Love News has received a copy of a memorandum listing these concerns which we are told has been sent to General David Jones by the BDF’s Finance Officer in January 2016. The memo references the Belize Defence Force Pension Regulation Statutory Instrument which stipulates the retirement ages of officers. Officers with ranks of Lieutenant Colonel and above should retire at age 45 while Majors and others below that rank should retire at age 42. The memo then lists four senior officers, one of them being Colonel Steven Ortega who is expected to take over Command of the BDF. The document states that the officers were still being paid and noted that their retirement benefits would be calculated to their retirement age and salaries and allowances would then be deducted from their gratuity benefits once they reached retirement age. Now, as we mentioned earlier, that was sent in January of 2016. In August of that same year, however, the retirement age for officers in the BDF was extended. The allegations are that these officers continue to work in the force when they should have retired well before the retirement age was extended. According to our source, one of the other officers should have retired on April 17, 2014, and another on June 16, 2015. If the matter is not addressed promptly, we are told that quote, “there will be much litigation from BDF Officers,” end of quote. That is because it is believed that the continued employment of these officers is hindering the promotions of other officers within the force. We understand that officers are seeking legal advice including the advice of the Solicitor General in the matter. Love News contacted Minister of Defense, John Saldivar, who said that there was a policy decision made to extend the retirement age since it was not beneficial to train officers and then have them retire at an early age.