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May 8, 2020

PM Responds to P.S.U. on Waiver of Increments

Two major issues occupied the prime minister’s press conference today. The dismal state of the economy and the deadlock with the Public Service Union are both pressing matters. The government is broke, not one penny has come from the International Financial Institutions and revenues to the treasury have plummeted in March and April. So Prime Minister Barrow minced no words earlier today in referring to public officers as intransigent while expressing his displeasure with the position that they have taken in respect of increments that have become due.  The P.S.U. says that it is not prepared to waive pending salary increases this fiscal year.  Of the three unions that stand to be affected by the waiver, including the Association of Public Service Senior Managers and the Belize National Teachers Union, the P.S.U. is the only organization that has objected to the prime minister’s proposal, bringing both parties to a deadlock on the issue.  The PM argues that the amount being sacrificed by other government workers such as ministers, C.E.O.s and contract officers far exceeds what public officers are being asked to forego.  The P.S.U., on the other hand, has remained steadfast in asking the Ministry of Finance to open up its books for them to see where shortfalls and savings are being realized.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The other two unions have not made clear their particular positions so I need to concentrate especially on the P.S.U.  Theres this stalemate between us over our proposals that public officers should forgo increments for this fiscal year 2020/2021.  Also, that senior public officers should agree to a reduction in certain of their allowances; and finally, that there is to be a withholding of a portion of gratuity and allowances for all contract officers, including, of course, the chief executive officers.  These measures are absolutely necessary but in fact they are woefully insufficient. In terms of the savings to be realized, if indeed people would agree to forgo the increments and the other reductions or withholdings in terms of allowances and gratuities.  Again, that’s factual.  The Public Service Union has access to salary scales, they would know as an example that what I said as provided to me by the Ministry of the Public Service and the Financial Secretary is absolutely true.  A First Class Clerk, the amount of the increment to be given up for this year would be nine hundred and two dollars.  An Administrative Officer Grade One, the amount would be one thousand, six hundred and forty-four.  In the case of a C.E.O. on contract, he or she is being asked to give up half his housing and entertainment allowance, as well as one quarter of gratuity in one year.  That is thirteen thousand dollars, as opposed to the maximum in terms of the public servants of this one thousand, six hundred and forty-four.  With respect to ministers, the Ministers of State get four thousand, five hundred per month.  They’ve already forgone that month’s salary.  Senior ministers get six thousand, seven hundred and fifty.  Added to that is the eight hundred thousand monthly, the withholding of the salary or their voluntarily giving up the salary, that’s a one-time, that’s a one off.  So it’s six thousand, seven-fifty for senior ministers, four thousand, five hundred for Ministers of State.  Both groups will give up eight hundred dollars every month ‘til the end of the year.  You put that on top of the six thousand, seven-fifty and the four thousand, five hundred, again you will see how far in excess ministers are in terms of what they are giving up in comparison with the Public Service members.”

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