HIGHWAY ROBBERY

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There was a post on Facebook shortly after the Social Security Board announced that because of incompetence, and bad investments, and political manipulation, they were essentially broke, on life support, and would go belly up without an immediate infusion of cash. Of course, CEO Dr. Colin Young didn’t put it exactly that way, but that is exactly what it is. The post on Facebook reported on a robbery, in which no guns or knives were used. It was a robbery carried out by the Government of Belize. There was no blood shed, but many, many Belizeans were hurt during this robbery.

Dr. Colin Young, the CEO of SSB, is also one of the UDP’s campaign managers, and a consummate spin doctor. At the launch of the institutionalized highway robbery earlier this week, Young tried to explain away the increase in contributions. Young is trying to tell Belizeans that they have gotten away, for many years, paying too little into Social Security. Young tried to pass off the failure of the SSB administrators and Board on the Belizean people, claiming that the institution is paying out much more than it is taking in. But that is all just UDP spin, from a CEO and an SSB which is riddled with and run by political operatives.

In the very short term, Belizean employees will be forced to double up on payments to the SSB, because Young claims that expenses are much higher than revenues. The fact, and the bottom line, is that the SSB is being run into the ground, with a deficit of $10.4M in 2017 which is expected to balloon to $43.5M in 2023. That is rank mismanagement, no matter what it is called, and no matter how it is spun. In fact, the Government would do well to change the name of the institution, because there is no security for Belizeans, thanks to the political infiltration which has bled the cash cow dry.

If Belizeans needed proof that this is about politics, and not about the people, there is a Cabinet paper written by Young entitled, “How the UDP can Leverage SSB’s Sustainability to gain Political Advantage.” In that paper, Young warns that the UDP will come under criticism for its ‘inability to look after the best interest of SSB leading up to the 2020 elections.’ Young speaks of political fallout, campaign tactics and political implications, stating that the UDP can use the increase in contributions as ‘a win for workers, a win for SSB and a win for the UDP.’ That would be some masterful spin indeed.

The truth is, as many Belizeans know, that the SSB has been run by UDP politicians whose interests are in seeing the UDP win, and not in safeguarding the money which belongs to the people of Belize. Time and time again, the UDP has gone to the SSB for bailouts in times of financial crisis, and every single time when the people have complained, they are told that these investments in the Government, or in one of the Government’s pet projects, are guaranteed the very best return on the market. When the people complained about millions of dollars being used to pay for a runway, the government explained it away, and the UDP run SSB Investment Committee and Board of Directors did as they wanted. When that money wasn’t enough, the government came back for more, and it was handed out. Just recently it was learned that the Belize Airports Authority, the entity which secured the loan, has not been paying back as agreed. Yet, the BAA was able to secure millions more of the people’s money to pay the same contractor, Imer Hernandez, for the Caye Caulker runway, despite massive public outcry.

And these are only very few examples of how the SSB has been used as the Government’s cash cow. Now, we hear, that the return on these investments is much, much lower than expected. We hear about loans not being paid. We hear that this once fat cash cow is now starving, ribs showing, on life support. We hear nothing about the mismanagement of the SSB monies. We hear nothing about terrible investments in UDP-approved projects to benefit cronies. We hear nothing about bailouts which were in the interests of the UDP, and not the people. We hear nothing about massive emoluments for administration. We hear nothing about a top-heavy, very handsomely compensated SSB despite the onset of technology. We hear nothing about the UDP fat cats like the Prime Minister’s son Anwar, and Juliet Thimbriel, who sit on the Board, brand new millionaires thanks to the UDP.

But we hear, that WE will have to pay. Somehow, the SSB has mismanaged our monies to the point that it is going bankrupt, and WE have to bail it out. We have to double our payments to the SSB now, because THEY messed up.

It is time for the people to stand up, and stand strong. This highway robbery should not go easy for this UDP administration and for the UDP-run SSB. They MUST understand that the people’s money is not the UDP’s money. They will get the sense, sooner rather than later.

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