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Sep 15, 2022

Chamber of Commerce & Industry Raises Concerns About Holiday For Queen’s Funeral

Prime Minister John Briceño

Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest on Monday, and the Government of Belize, along with several other Commonwealth countries, is observing the nineteenth of September as a public and bank holiday.  While employees across the private and public sectors are grateful for the extended Expo weekend, the announcement was met with cold water by the business community.  On Tuesday, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry wrote to Chief Executive Officer Valentino Shal expressing serious concerns regarding significant and unbudgeted payroll costs during a time when businesses are still recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is a one-off statutory holiday and will not be on the schedule of holidays.  Nonetheless, the letter, written by B.C.C.I. President Marcello Blake, cites a section of the Labor Act that is relevant to this issue.  Government is reminded that back in early 2021; a request was made for advanced notice to be given prior to any cost-bearing holiday being instituted.  C.E.O. Shal of the Ministry of Labor responded in writing, stating that the Minister of Rural Transformation, Labor and Local Government must consult with Cabinet, as well as the Labor Advisory Board pertaining to that request.  Shal said, “Unfortunately, the minister is unable to consult with the relevant bodies within the timeframe, and as a result an order to exempt September nineteenth from that section of the Labor Act cannot be issued.”  Earlier today, when asked about the chamber’s concern, Prime Minister John Briceño briefly commented on the matter, telling reporters that he anticipated the chamber‘s request.

 

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Of course I do and that’s fine.  But the thing is that we reluctantly gave a holiday because the queen has served Belize as its queen for, whether you like it or not, for forty-one years and as a colony, I think it was twenty-nine years.  So that gives you seventy years that she had served while she was the Queen of England.  We reluctantly gave the holiday simply because all the countries around us, including Australia and Canada, have declared a holiday.”

 

We will have more on the coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at the end of our newscast.


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