Financial security is a much debated issue whenever we discuss ageing and as our older population increases every year it becomes an even greater area of concern. It is undeniable that certain factors need to be in place in order to maintain a certain quality of life as we age chief among them the ability to access an income that meets their basic needs. However, like many developing countries, Belize is faced with the reality that a large part of its work force did not have access to a pension scheme or retirement planning, so this translates into a generation of older persons who were unprepared to meet the financial constraints that come with ageing.
The Country Poverty Assessment (CPA) and the NCA’s Situational Analysis reveal the difficulty older persons face in meeting the cost of living. Some older persons must choose between purchasing medication and purchasing food on a monthly basis. There are two facets through which older persons can access financial support if they do not receive a pension; Social Assistance ($40 monthly) and the Non-Contributory Pension ($100 monthly). Both schemes address poverty alleviation and are accessible only to those older persons who meet specific criteria.
It is undeniable that there is the need for providing financial security for older persons in Belize that is planned and sustainable. Recognizing that, as the population grows, the need for social protection in old age becomes even more important, HelpAge International selected Belize as one of the countries in which to conduct a feasibility study to assess the introduction of a Universal Pensi sensitizing them on what the Universal Pension Scheme would mean to Belize. The process cumulated with a National Consultation Forum held on August 4, 2010 at the Guadalupe Mercy Center in Belize City.
Mr. Jeffery James , Regional Caribbean Director for HelpAge International, and Mr. Charles Knox from HelpAge International, London, were present to facilitate the meeting. Whilst in Belize, Mr. Knox and Mr. James met with many government representatives, to discuss the issue and to obtain statistical information from the Statistical Institute of Belize. All the information collected is currently being analysed and so we await the results in the form of a feasibility study for a Universal Pension Scheme in Belize. If you have any questions about this matter please contact the National Council on Ageing.