Where Will Ministry Get Bonus Money From? Minister Cagey
While the Belize National Teachers’ Union has made clear how it feels about this ‘bonus,’ where exactly is the Ministry of Education going to get the money from? As the Minister told us on Monday, the money is being ‘set aside.’ But is the Ministry robbing from Peter to pay Paul? At the request of some teachers, we reviewed the Ministry’s budget which shows cuts to some programs that added together may very well have resulted in the ‘million-dollar bonus.’ Most of these cuts can be found in Capital Two and Capital Three expenditure. Under Cap Two, the Youth Apprenticeship Program lost four hundred and seventy thousand; the Belize Teachers’ Training College, part of the University of Belize, lost a hundred thousand; the Quality Assurance and Development Service (QUADS) lost twenty-four thousand; no money was assessed for the National Council on Education, a loss of fifty-five thousand; there is another hundred thousand less dedicated to construction and infrastructure projects; and the School inspectorate Pilot Project is also a hundred thousand dollars poorer. There was also a four million dollar reduction in Capital Three expenditure as funds appeared to run out for several development bank sponsored projects. This is how the minister explains the honorarium.
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education [File: April 3rd, 2017]
“As I’ve always said to those who advocated for us to simply pay the teachers that were on strike, it is not as easy as doing that. There were those teachers who diligently went to work throughout the eleven days of the strike and of course there were those who went in January when the Ministry along with the managing authorities of schools agreed on those days – the six days, if you’ll remember; that were make-up days – the third, fourth, fifth and sixth of January were supposed to be the first four of the make-up days and of course you know the history of that. And so while it is we cannot pay compensation fully for those teachers who attended school on those days, we thought that it would be important to give some kind of honorarium to those teachers; and so in consultation with the Prime Minister, we have agreed to set aside one million dollars that will be divided among those teachers as a small honorarium. We are in the process now of bringing together the figures that show those teachers; the managements are submitting those and once we know those numbers we will divide the million dollars among those teachers and we will try to make a payment to them, and we are hoping that this can be done before the Easter break comes fully; so hopefully this week we can get those figures. I think they are already in – we’re just now crunching them and putting them through the system, and we will be able tell you exactly what dollar figure, and it is going to be monies that they get in their account, so to speak, because it will go well for Easter, we think, for many who are looking forward to some kind of compensation for those days.”
During the House debate the Minister noted that several of these projects are now part of recurrent expenditure but did not specify figures.