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Jan 30, 2013

Minister tells N.T.U.C.B., ‘at this time funds not available’

The National Trade Union Congress of Belize and the representatives of the Belize National Teachers Union, the Public Service Union and the Association of the Public Service Senior Managers will meet with the government on Friday in Belmopan. They will sit down with Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the government’s ministerial committee which includes, Patrick Faber, Godwin Hulse, and Charles Gibson.  The impasse between government and the unions is concentrated on salary adjustments. The unions believe the re-negotiated superbond gives the government savings that can support the adjustments. One minister has the distinction of sitting on both government teams, which gives him a unique perspective on the bond and the salary adjustments.  News Five spoke to Hulse who said that at this time, the government cannot accommodate the union’s salary demands.

 

Jose Sanchez

“You may have seen the protest yesterday, but as Minister Faber is saying, the money is not there and perhaps there are other ways in which the government can appease the N.T.U.C.B. at this time. What is your opinion on this?”

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labour and Local Government

Godwin Hulse

“Well let’s start from the top; first of all I don’t know why we were there because negotiations never broke done. And at the last session they left amicable; in fact, we had snacks. And the union left with a simple request; that they would be given the data on the bond when it is released so that they can go back to their membership. So I don’t know how we propelled into demonstration and potential strike. We were not there and we never closed that door. And I think perhaps the government was remiss not to make that point; the door was never closed. What the chairman, Minister Faber said “at this time” and we mean that at this time we can’t accommodate an increase. But the unions had said, if they could find savings, would that be considered and we said yes—not a hundred percent of any savings—but we would consider sharing because government also has other priorities. One must recognize that the people we are negotiating with are the government. The fifteen ministers are only the people sitting in cabinet. It is the same public officers and the same senior managers who mange government’s budget and government’s processes. And in fact, cabinet has already passed an agreement that we will clamp down on; violation of vehicles and that sort of thing. So there is a new vehicle policy coming out.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Their economist, Mister Castellanos, was looking at things like contract officers. He was looking at how much millions, in his opinion, are wasted. Also looking at future earnings; not necessarily that the government don’t have no money at this time, but for future earnings.”

 

Godwin Hulse

“Yes, but we are looking at the same thing. We never said that we wouldn’t look at it and we never said that we wouldn’t share. That is the point I am making so I don’t know why they are demonstrating and making noise. We are also going to be meeting with them this Friday in the cabinet room with the Prime Minister and the three ministers to advance these discussions in a similar vein. And they had asked if we would consider any future trigger to ensure that they would get their increase and we said yes. That would have to be worked out. But the important point to remember is that we said at this time it is not possible. And it is not possible for the simple reason that even if we get relief from the super bond, on which team I also sit, it is not going to bring us to a zero position or a plus position. We are going to still have a significant deficit and consequently the money is just not there unless we raise GST; unless we raise business and income tax. And also bear in mind that when and if we do give increases to the teachers, government pays seventy percent of salaries. That means school managers will have to find an additional thirty percent. And where will that come from? That will come from fees off the general public. So while we have such a large unemployment and while we recognize the stellar work that teachers do, we ask them to have some patience and bear with us man so we can move forward in this together hand in hand. At this point in time, we really couldn’t use any strike or any upset.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Do remember also that the leaders who attend these meetings are only representatives of their unions. Would you then be willing to speak to the general memberships being that they follow the memberships’’ instructions?”

 

Godwin Hulse.

“I’d speak to anybody, but the pointy is that the leaders have to transmit and translate to their membership accurately what transpired and all I am saying is that negotiations never break down; there was never any finality to it. The statement we left with was at this time and that still stands.” 

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13 Responses for “Minister tells N.T.U.C.B., ‘at this time funds not available’”

  1. Openbothyoureyes says:

    Government needs to pass a law forcing all retailers, especially grocers, to use a cash register with a receipt on all transactions. Government needs to make it illegal to do cash transactions on a hand held computer with the unaccountable sales receipts being stashed in the merchant’s infamous wooden drawer. You know, the same type of wooden drawer you use to put your socks in. Millions of unaccountable (and taxable) sales are being stolen and pocketed through this illegal transaction process. These merchants are so arrogant and unconcerned with this type of illicit activity that they actually have this whole process recorded on their own security cameras!

    Is there any Belizean in this country who realizes how many millions of dollars of potential revenue are being pocketed by merchants who do one transaction on a cash register (to amuse and appease), then deposit the proceeds from the next two transactions in their tax free wooden drawer. Is anyone out there paying attention?

    The “Belize wooden drawer system of accountability” literally allows merchants to decide how much tax they are going to pay. Government has absolutely no control over this process. None whatsoever. The Chinese certainly know this. They exploit and take full advantage of your ignorance and collectively laugh all the way to the bank with a backpack full of untaxed profits. Who needs an accountant or a revised tax code system when government gives merchants a daily gift that just keeps on giving.

    It’s pretty simple really. No cash register-No business license. You use a drawer-No business license. End of story. Wake up and start collecting tax revenue on millions of dollars of hidden revenue. You’ll have enough money to DOUBLE teacher salaries, enough funds to repair a school infrastructure in shambles and enough dough to pay police officers a live-able wage.

    Open both eyes Belize.

    By the way, one more thought from the gringo. If you can read and comprehend this post, thank a teacher. Have a nice day.

  2. Retired CEO says:

    It is a damm shame what this government is trying to pull on the populace of the Jewel. Teachers are the cornerstone of society. Without teachers none of us wouldn’t be what we profess to be today. Here is this pseudo educated minister who has not even been elected by the populace. Talking about funds not being in place to give the teachers an increase that they rightfully earned and deserve. This minister is the voice and echo of the PM. After all has been said and done, he has been hand picked/selected by his boss, the PM. Nowthen, he is living high off the hog telling and trying to convince professional teachers, that there are no funds to facilitate their request. Despite the waste and high salaries that they are being paid to lead the country. Yet, we are in the midst of a serious leadership crisis in the jewel.

    Equally, it is very sad and unfortunate that so many people are so ignorant and do not have a clue as to what is going on in the jewel and it’s educational system. Clearly, if teachers are incompetent, lacking certain desired training and are unable to pass the National Teachers’s exam, this is a reflection of the quality of leadership and the educational system. In reality this exemplifies the management and the managers incompetence. From the top to the bottom, including the minister of education and the incompent cabinet of bufoons, masquerading under the guise of leadership.

    What is even worse, is we have a bunch of idiots in Belmopan and a minister of education who consistently blames the past Government/leadership for the current issues and state of affairs in a failing deteriorating system. Obviously, they are unable to deal with the current issues. The current Minister of Education has been at the helm for a almost six years now and yet all he talks about is the past leadership. Apparently, he has no vision for teachers and the educational system.

    Furthermore, this current g.o.b has money to pay cronies heavy fees for consultation, legal representation in court, lump sums for political purposes during Xmas and the election year coupled with money to pacify the gang leaders. Lastly, what happened to the money from the oil revenues? Have they wasted, stole and squandered that too.

    By all means the teachers deserve an increase, teaching is not an easy job. Society can not function any better that what teachers performance are, teachers are the backbone and builders of society. In short, this is downright shame and disgrace of the present leadership of government. They need to stop the name calling and blaming what was, take control govern/lead.

  3. blackberry says:

    Enforce the GST the way it was intended and GOB will get more money than it needs to give the public servants a just raise.

  4. Nonsense says:

    ……in fact, we had snacks. Minister GH.
    so, people of Belize GOB give us snakcs at the negotiation meeting, …………………….

  5. melinda says:

    REtired CEO has a foul mouth. I dont believe he was ever a CEO, he sounds crude!! Anyway, the increase that the teachers are asking for is too much. It will break Belize like it did to Honduras. A small adjustment maybe but 30% is too much. Think man, we cant afford it. Da we pay you know, no Dean Barrow! And go wash yu mouth REtired CEO.

  6. Teacher from the North says:

    Did Minister Faber pay back for the new vehicle his brother destroyed, that is one hundred thousand dollars right there.how about the 50 thousand to each UDP representative for the past 2 christmas. how about Boots giving away thousands to Mrs Simpliss Barrow for her feel good projects. how come money is there for such things but NO MONEY for just teacher’s salaries..

  7. Nimbo says:

    @ Retired CEO- hit the nail on the head.

  8. commonsenz says:

    I don’t think any of you care about the teachers, you guys just clacking noise on the blog.

  9. Storm says:

    Teachers should have a reasonable, affordable increase, but their 30% demand is unreasonable given the state of the national economy.

    At the same time, the whole nation has an interest in weeding out the teachers who can’t pass the standard examination. Raising salaries won’t make a bad teacher good, and children are CRIPPLED by incompetent teachers. The national interest is in identifying those and replacing them with fully qualified teachers AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

    Potential savings from the superbond — which agreement hasn’t been approved by anyone yet — are a false source of revenue. The problem with the bond was that we didn’t have money to make our payments there when due, so it is a “savings” of money that didn’t exist. And whatever savings from lower interest occur will take place over many years, not in 2013.

    There is an elephant in the room that we all should look at, and force the press and GOB to look at: open the government books, and let everyone with a sharp eye and a red pencil find the waste, fraud, and corruption. Then if we know where millions are wasted, that can be re-directed where it is needed, to improve NECESSARY government services like security and education.

    Agree or disagree?

    And yes, I do greatly appreciate good teachers — some of them gave me life-changing guidance when I was young, and I was a professor myself for a few years.

  10. Rod says:

    Melinda is the reason we are in this dirt box with this pm and gov. People like her keep defending this useless incompetent. Corrupt pm and gov. Go take judas by the hand and the two a unu go lock unu self up tha jail Melinda you are a complete moron. You are correct CEO.

  11. Sick and tired says:

    Well now you know teachers…Join a gang and you make extra money!

  12. Mr. Concern says:

    I love when people think rational and reflect about the squandering of funds as mention by previous contributors. well, it might sound a big increase but in reality, taxes takes it right back to gob. Teachers work as hard any minister or prime minister or CEO in this country. they work 24/7 a week and they deserve salary just like minister faber. Who say minister should be paid more than teachers. they decide thier own payscale. ITS NOT FAIR. period!!! give teacher 50% hike. No big deal for me.

  13. moses EX PC says:

    I agree that 30% seems a lot too steep. The art of negotiation requires reasonable expectation.

    GOB needs to tighten up the oil revenue or nationalize it. any further drilling rights should include jobs for the locals and monies for education. Other solutions to get the money for teachers should include renegotiating the oil revenue or nationalize it. Go the way of Cuba. Chavez may donate millions as he did before, if only we can convince our politicians to steal less. We can sell our UN vote to the Jews and the Chinese. Taiwan always has its purse open for us always. The US is so scared of communism that they will give us money for the teachers if we threaten to go rogue communist. Foolishness, maybe but where can we get the 30% that the teachers are asking for. In developed countries, elementary education is paid for by the people by way of taxes, real estate taxes etc. Every homeowner and business pay school taxes in addition to other taxes. A raise in salary would mean a raise in taxes. Most of the people in Belize can’t afford their daily meal much less pay school taxes. Up North (way up) local school boards vote on increases and then legislatures vote on a raise. Bottom line is the government is the people. When teachers or public servants ask for a raise, they are asking the people. What will the people’s response be? Me hungry too.

    Tangentially, does anyone know or have an idea about Chinese popping up all over the world and opening chicken joints, grocery stores etc. They seem to be every where.

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