The improvements will include the use of biometric scanning as the main form of customer identification
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 31, 2019– The Social Security Board has embarked on a new endeavor that should increase efficiency and, more importantly, security when it comes to issuing money from the Social Security fund. The board is aiming to use biometric scanning as its main form of customer identification, which is expected to become effective as of March 2020.
This would entail that citizens use registered fingerprints or, potentially, iris scanning when claiming their benefits. The intent, according to CEO Dr. Colin Young, is to reduce the use of tedious and inefficient paperwork systems to file for claims, and also, to reduce the risk of fraud that results in the illegal acquisition of money from the SSB.
SSB had conducted a series of public consultations on biometrics which concluded in Belize City on Tuesday. Dr. Young stated that the inspiration for this change came from a 2017 publication disseminated by the international network of social security administrations which discussed the frequency of fraud and error evasion at various social security institutions across the world.
This roused Dr. Young and his team to seek a revision by the Cabinet of the regulations regarding benefit collection to include biometrics, which was approved under the condition that consultations be conducted. Members of the SSB have visited insured persons and employers in all districts of the country to conduct the said consultations and to shed light on the various benefits once this new system becomes functional.
And although the board does not know exactly how much money has been lost due to fraud in the past, Dr. Young is certain that it is an issue that has been occurring more frequently than most Belizeans are aware of: “Just a couple weeks ago, we had a situation of a pensioner dying, and the family chose not to report the death. We ended up paying the pension payment for about 4 months before it was recognized that the person had passed away. And we had to go through a long process involving the bank, to get back the overpayment,” he said.
Dr. Young also accounted for ongoing cases of identity theft which have required police involvement. The SSB sees this initiative as something that will not only curb crime, but will also make their transactions run far more smoothly for the convenience of the public. It has not been stated how much the project will cost, but the SSB is hoping it will be completed by early next year.