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Feb 8, 2023

“We are all in the same Belize Boat”, P.M. Briceño to Unions

Prime Minister John Briceño

P.M. Briceño also responded to questions about the drawn-out collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the Belize National Teachers Union and the Government of Belize. At Tuesday’s press conference, B.N.T.U. President Elena Smith raised the issue that it has been almost fifteen years of negotiating the C.B.A. One point of contention in those negotiations is the travel allowance for teachers. So, we asked the Prime Minister where his administration stands on paying these allowances to teachers, particularly in hard-to-reach communities. His response is that there are other pressing matters in education that should keep teachers awake.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“On the issue of paying allowances for teachers travelling, there are so much needs in this country. There are so many children that are not going to school because they can’t afford it. That is just another one and it something that we are prepared to take a look at and we can afford to pay it I will happily do so. And we have schools that are in such a dire state of repairs, these are the things we have to take a look at. It is not just the teachers but also the children. Our children have lost probably a year and a half and we have to play catch-up to get them ready to go to the next class room or to high school, six form and university. These are the things that should keep them awake. Why is it that fifty percent of our children don’t go to high school? We need to question that. Yes it is the parents, the government, but it is also the teachers. They also need to do their part. We are all in the Belize boat together. If the Belize boat sink, we sink, deh sink, all ah we so we have to make sure we get this thing right to be able to move this country forward, to create opportunities for all of our citizens.”


Paul Lopez

“The arguments that some persons on that boat have more comfortable seating arrangements. The financial demands being made by the union is with the backdrop of the salary increase for judge as one example and the increase of your transport allowance on another example.”


Prime Minister John Briceño

“Well we would want them to have more comfortable seating on the Belize boat, but they will also have to help us to get the country going so that we can collect more taxes to give those more. I would wish to double their salaries. I would wish to give them more, but we can’t give what we don’t have. And as to the issue of the vehicle, they have beaten that to death. The point is what we are doing right now is saving the government money. If the government were to buy my vehicle for me, and pay to change the tires and fix the vehicle it is going to cost a lot more than what I am being given as allowance. If It makes them happy and want the government to buy me a vehicle, that is fine by me. The thing is I am a very active Prime Minister, I am on the road every single day.”

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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