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Sep 20, 2016

FinSec discusses Government’s Salary Adjustment Deferral Proposal

The Government continues to deal with the third and final tranche of salary adjustments, which it has asked to be deferred until next year as a result of damages caused by Hurricane Earl. The figure government has provided is a fifteen-million-Belize-dollar increase on recurrent revenue. Financial Secretary Joseph Waight explains the reason for the proposed deferral, why G.O.B. cannot be accused of financial irresponsibility in this instance, and whether teachers may get their amount separately from the public officers.

 

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“We couldn’t pay the three percent and also pay the hurricane relief without having to resort to some borrowing, because we don’t have it – quite frankly, we don’t have it in the bank account, to do both.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, the critics of the Government say that the Government’s expenditure has been – they make the point that it has been somewhat wasteful in some areas, that there can be savings placed elsewhere, and so to use the hurricane as this sort of scapegoat, as some sort of excuse, not to pay at this time, is to be disingenuous.”

 

Joseph Waight

Joseph Waight

“No, I don’t agree with that. Yes, there is always room for efficiency improvement, savings, but we had an act of God. We have an extraordinary expense. It’s just like your personal income – if your roof gets blown off, and you have to fix it, you have to defer something else, I mean that is until you stabilize in better times – but there is not a question of using this to renege on an agreement, no. You have only one money to spend, and something else, an emergency comes up, you make room for the emergency by deferring something else, and the assurance to the unions is that it was temporary; we expect to be back on our feet in time for the next fiscal year beginning April 2017. If we do a ratio – we think there’s about four thousand teachers, out of twelve thousand total on the payroll, but it’s hard to estimate; they have different salary, skills and so; but it’s not a contemplation we pay one – that’s not on the table. To pay one, one union only, no.”

 

Waight says that after Friday’s meeting, the Belize National Teachers’ Union was asked to go back to its membership for further consultations, though the exact nature of the proposal that Government made on that day remains undefined publicly. The B.N.T.U. has asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow to meet with them on Thursday.

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