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Aug 19, 2014

Philip Castillo explains why the Unions’ Trust was delayed

Philip Castillo

For two fiscal years, from 1995 to 1997, increments for all public service workers were frozen. As compensation, the unions were given four hundred and eighty thousand shares in B.T.L. by the government of Belize. The dividends from these shares were to be placed in a trust and the proceeds from the trust available to fund projects and other benefits for public sector workers. Over the years however, B.T.L. did not pay out the dividends and instead increased the number of shares; the trust presently owns seven hundred and ninety-four thousand shares. So the Trust is B.T.L.’s largest small shareholders. The dividends since then have accumulated to a whopping five point five million dollars and were just finally made available by the government of Belize in 2007. But due to the lack of a Trust, the monies were never released to the unions. So why wait this long before creating a Trust? Philip Castillo explained the delay.

 

Philip Castillo, Trustee, Public Sector Workers Trust

“If you look at the initial documents…certainly from my reading of those documents, the impression I got was that it was government that was to set up the trust. Now government’s chief legal officer is the SolGen and that’s a very busy man so for years nothing happened. In 2007, government then allowed the unions to access the dividends which is when the unions started the process of hiring legal expertise to set up the trust. That took a while but here we are now.”

 

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

Luke Palacio

“The trust allows the trustees to determine what kind of activities the trust can engage its members in. One of the key things we need to bear in mind though, one of the key things that Brother Cas probably wouldn’t have mentioned was that why it has taken this long is because we had to go through a number of attorneys to finalize this trust deed and one of the conditions to activating the trust was that the unions needed to present to government the trust before their funds would have been released. So unless this trust was established—and we had been working on it over the years—again like I said having engaged several attorneys and then finalizing the document sometime in November of last year, submitted it to government and they then at this point have released those funds.”

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