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Feb 20, 2013

Ports Commissioner leaves job; junior minister interference?

Former Ports Commissioner Major John Flowers, whose last day on the job as head of the Belize Port Authority was Tuesday, has opened up about his sudden departure from the post.  Flowers cites his reason for choosing not to renew a one-year contract with the Ministry of Transport as professional differences with junior minister Edmund Castro.  According to Flowers, the minister of state has repeatedly used his influence to rid the department of past employees and, on two occasions, instructed the hiring of his children despite the department’s financial woes.  Flowers spoke by phone with News Five today and recounted what transpired at BPA over the past two weeks.


Via phone: Major John Flowers, Former Ports Commissioner

“The situation at the Port Authority actually began shortly after elections in 2012, I think it was in March 2012 when Minister Castro was selected along with Minister Montero to head the Ministry of Works and Transport.  The Port Authority, being what it is, has fallen under the Ministry of Transport and right at the beginning Minister Castro made a move to change everyone that was there before, including myself.  But because of the contract I had that could not be done because the contract was still valid for another year and so that contract stood fast for a while; however, we had a bit of difficulties from there onwards in the sense that I know he has made several moves to try to get me fired or kicked out.  It never did work out and finally I think in April [2012], I think it was on Holy Thursday we had a situation where myself and him had a discussion on the phone in respect to the water taxi situation.  There was a breach at the water taxi terminal along with the Fort Street Tourism Village and under the ISPS Regulations that breach should not be occurring.  And so we had a situation down there and it appears that the water taxi management at San Pedro Belize Express had his telephone number and they called him and complained that we were controlling the water taxi schedule and restricting their movement.  So he felt that that shouldn’t happen and he wanted for the water taxis to have as much schedule as they wanted to run. Sometime in around early July the chairman approached me and asked for me to create a vacancy for the minister’s daughter and I said well I don’t really have a stack of funds but he said well the minister wants to get his daughter in.  So I said well alright I will try to accommodate.  We went in and we created a slot at the Vessels Documentation Desk and put her in there to work and so she started to work there and that worked out for a while and so we continued to do what we normally do and eventually we had this last situation which developed on the February 1st, where again the chairperson called me and asked me to create a spot for the minister’s son.  And I said, “chairman right now we’re too overstaffed we’ve established the seventy and I have two extra.”  And given the financial situation right now with the authority, I said I simply cannot afford to have people well over the establishment because it has to do with revenues which I am not collecting with the depressed shipping conditions in Belize.  I said I’ll lose money and so there is no other alternative for me to get money to run the department and I don’t want to run into a serious problem whereby I can’t pay people.  And so he said, “I will try to see if I can talk the minister out of it and that was the Friday.  The Monday morning I got a call from the minister, which was the fourth, saying that, “listen to me, I have my son here that I need to find a job.  He’s giving me battery, he’s giving me some trouble and I need to find somewhere to put him and I’m not asking you to move mountains.”  I said, “minister that is not the issue.”  I said we just don’t have the space, we don’t have the means to facilitate your son.  He said, “well I’m not asking you that, I am instructing you to do that.”  Then he said thank you very much and left.  Well that never did happen and so on Wednesday the minister came down to the office and he came in in the morning and said, “you noh di work wid me.”  He said, “I’ve been giving instructions and you noh di follow it out and soh I noh think that you wah di ya fi wah year.  I gwein back d cabinet and get you moved.”  And so I said minister we have had this discussion before, we talked about this thing, I just simply don’t have the vacancy to put your son and he did not take that lightly.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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10 Responses for “Ports Commissioner leaves job; junior minister interference?”

  1. Mick says:

    There is no money to pay the teachers and here we see an example of what our ministers are doing. One may say that this is only one/two cases, but we must look at the fact that there may be many more cases that have not been brought to the light! This is a shame as we have experienced public officers given the shaft to accomodate a person who is elected! If this continues the UDP will find itself in dire straits come election time. PM would be advised to curb this type of behavior as it will translate into dissent.

  2. Blackie says:

    Whe kind a management book this bali castro di read?

  3. sickntired says:

    The two of these guys sound like idiots. Furthermore he just help create the space and revenue for the minister son to be hired. This minister love to hustle. I know somebody who used to complain about how much this minister used to harrass him for money. He had to start hiding from the minister. What is the PM doing about this? Castro lucky he not female cause i notice only women in this red camp get harsh punishment.

  4. Ah Mi Tell Unu! says:

    This is what happens to Honest Public Servants and Employees with Integrity under the UDP. They get rid of you through intimidation or falsehoods. Their strategy hasn’t changed from the beginning of time. Its there for all to see. Little John Flowers has learned this the hard way.

  5. Sher says:

    Nuff Respect, Major Flowers!!!!!!! You are HONORABLE!

  6. blackberry says:

    Minister`s interference has been happening for more often than we care to believe. I applaud Major Flowers for standing up and bringing it to public attention. Belize has lost a lot of well train GBO scholarship civil servants who migrated to the USA because they choose to stand up to a minister. Most of the civil servants that are presently serving are (yes minister) staff. Minister interference has caused a brain drain that will take years if ever to recover from.

  7. OH WELL says:

    You really have to be careful who give power to, it can be quite dangerous but Belize got the government they bought so deal with it.

  8. Storm says:

    So now more corruption comes into the open, more and more every day with this government!

    If what Castro did isn’t a crime, it should be. Taxpayer funds aren’t the source of allowances for his lazy children — why can’t they earn a job like the rest of us?

    At a minimum, let’s all remember this incident, and vote the crook out at the first chance!

  9. REEL says:

    you no hear the man Castellanos metioned that as soon as UDP get in the wage bill jump by THIRTY MILLION. that is the teachers pay raise tight there.. Castro is a hussling thug.

  10. moses EX PC says:

    Ahhh BS!! Every government in the world takes care of each .other. There is much more to this story. Flowers is an AH. Patronage is a part of politics and he should know this. All who are !@#$%^&* about this would do the same thing for their family and supporters.

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