The Belize Tourism Board is under scrutiny once again after it was recently uncovered that the pension fund was misused under the previous government. In addition to that, some former employees are up in arms after they did not get the full amount they were to receive from the fund. One former employee spoke off camera to Love News explaining that he and several others had signed a document confirming the amount they were due from the pension fund. He added that when the money was deposited into his account, it was far less than what was signed for. According to the former employee his amount was short by almost three thousand dollars.
Former BTB Employee: “The recent allegation with the misuse of the pension fund yes three quarter of us that were laid off had been affected by it because we signed one thing stating that this will be the amount of pension we receive and this will be the years of service that we’d receive vacation pay we signed off on that and when we did get our money, the pension, all of us were short. Some of us had to give back money, they said they overpaid us. Some of us were short,like me I was short almost $3,000. Some of us were short $1,500 ; some $5,000; $6,000. The reason they gave us was some miscalculation on behalf of Sagicor. I personally had went to Sagicor and they said they didn’t do no miscalculation it was an error on BTB itself and I was like how come after a year or two later there’s an error if you guys keep checking the account ? So all of a sudden now when we tried to get back our money all kinds of excuses they’re giving us not to give or explain or give us a breakdown of how the miscalculation had occurred so I knew something was up. From the time they wanted to break off from Sagicor to do their own pension I had the fear because usually like that whoever government or party is in it gives the minister easy access to our money to squander away or to steal or to lend out or to try give back at the end of our term or something like that so I know something was suspicious of that but up to now they haven’t given us a clear explanation or a break down or where the error occurred in our pension and all of us are frustrated because those monies can be used to help us to continue to survive in this pandemic. You know what is $5,000 out of your pension that is not accounted for ? That they tell you they made an error on and you signed something stating that you will collect $20,000 in pension and when you receive it now it’s $5,000 short and you go to them they are dodging, they have you around and around , all kind of bs you know? It’s very frustrating. I called the financial director, all of us emailed her and we got one answer: they cannot explain or give us a break down of why some of us money were short or why some of us had to give back money because they had overpaid us; it’s ridiculous, really ridiculous.”
The former employee is one of several persons who were fired from the Belize Tourism Board on March 23, 2020. He says at the time of his termination he was concerned as to why the termination was coming so quickly when Belize had only just reported its first case of Covid-19 on that day. He noted that months later when he found out of the 5-year contract for the BTB Director and the money she was receiving in salary and allowances, he became even more upset and disappointed.
Former BTB Employee: “I was dumbfounded, shocked and very hurt. Most of us wanted to cry when we heard it. We were told by the minister then that when the COVID hit us he wanted us to work until December 2020 with a pay cut which we didn’t really mind doing that. We were the first company in Belize to let go three quarter of the staff without any proposition or any options she just came and told us out rightly that BTB cannot sustain us because if they do they don’t have money they will be broke but we were like how can BTB be broke ? It affected us bad a lot of us were hurt and like I said I think most of us are still in awe at what happened. We got to find out she had this five year contract signed in I guess 2019 I was like wow- I had lost all respect for her, I lost all respect for her like how can she do that to us knowing most of us had mortgages to be paid off. Some of us cannot even get a job because of their age, some were 50,55 between 55 and 60 so it hurt a lot and I think majority of us still haven’t gotten a job as yet because of the situation of the economy. So if I can say the word pissed at her for doing that to us, she would take a million dollar contract knowing the suffering that her employees that she claimed to so love and crocodile tears with us it was shameful. Shameful, shameful.“
Love News understands that a revision of the pension fund is currently underway as it has been ascertained that the fund was used to pay salaries between July and November 2020. In a related story, explosive revelations are anticipated from the audit that took place involving the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The findings will be presented tomorrow during a press conference led by the Ministry of the Blue Economy. Love News understands that the misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars are in question. We will have the highlights from the press conference in tomorrow’s newscast.