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BDF Soldiers to be Included in the Social Security Scheme

Soldiers of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) will soon begin contributing to the Social Security Scheme. Approval for the move came down from Cabinet yesterday after years of lobbying by the BDF for inclusion. Love News spoke with the Minister of State in the Ministry of National Defence, Oscar Mira, who highlighted how such an inclusion will benefit the soldiers well after retirement from the force.

Oscar Mira, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence : “We are looking at including the Belize Defence Force in the Social Security scheme. Belize Defence force is the only Government agency I believe that is not part of Social Security. A lot of our soldiers retire early and they have it very difficult after they retire because they’re looking for a job and start paying Social Security. Many of them don’t have enough contributions to get the benefits of Social Security. As well as the Belize Defence Force, if we could start paying Social Security, it would benefit the soldiers in that they could access all the benefits that Social Security has to offer. We have made our case to Cabinet and Cabinet has approved that the Belize Defence Force can start paying Social Security contributions.”

The exclusion of the soldiers was a decision made years ago under the premise that they may be more of a liability in times of war or military conflicts. With Belize not having any such conflicts in the foreseeable future, Minister Mira says the necessary amendments are now being made to the Social Security Act. Acting Chief of Staff at the Belize Defence Force, Major Rogelio Ramirez told Love News via Zoom that the amendments are very much welcomed and highly anticipated.

Major Rojelio Rodriguez, Acting Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “We are looking forward to it. We understand that this will benefit the Force. We are definitely looking forward to it. We just have to sit down as quickly as possible and get the ball rolling. We need to get onboard as quickly as possible. You know that everything revolves around contributions. 50 contributions, 500 contributions, over 10 years to get the full benefits so all of these things we have to look at and we need to do it as quickly as possible because we understand the benefits and how our soldiers will definitely find it useful.”

Currently, members of the Belize Defence Force are the only group of employees who are not allowed to make social security contributions. This has exempted them from several benefits, including maternity leave, sick leave and disability. A definitive date on when the inclusion will take effect was yet to be finalized.