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Feb 8, 2023

Unions Want Their Increments, P.M. Wants Pension Reform

Prime Minister John Briceño

And, while Prime Minister Briceño says his administration is prepared to deal with the issue of frozen increments, there is a catch. He is calling on the unions to come to the table to discuss pension reform and to agree that the current pension structure for public servants is unsustainable. The Government is proposing a revised structure that would see public officers contribute towards their pension. On Tuesday, the unions took a strong position on this point, declaring that no public servants already in the system will pay into any new pension scheme. The unions also believe that the Prime Minister is mixing up two separate matters, increments and pension reform. Here is what P.M. Briceño had to say.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“But also we are making the point to the union that one, increments are suppose to be based on merit, it is not automatic increments and secondly that we also have to look at the issue of pension reform. Belize is one of the probably few countries n the world where the pension is paid by the tax payers, one hundred percent. As we come to the end of this financial year we will be paying up to a hundred million dollars. By 2035 it is going to be a hundred and thirty million dollars. It is going up exponentially. We cannot afford it. So, we have to find a way where we can protect or have a grandfather clause where those who are in the system for a number of years do not lose because it would not be fair to them, but we have to come up with a new formula where the public officer and the government combine would make payment towards a pension to them. That is the way it works everywhere in the world, and in Belize many companies, business in the private sector do that where employer and employees put monies together for the employees to get a pension.”


Paul Lopez

“Help us understand how the frozen increment and pension reform relates to each other. Is it simply because of the amount of spending that we have to do on pension payout that we simply cannot afford to unfreeze these increments?”


Prime Minister John Briceño

“It is not a matter of not wanting to unfreeze the increments. It is a matter of sitting down and talking with them. I have said this already to them in a joint meeting we had around the middle of December. I have explained this to them. It is nothing new. The point is it is unsustainable and as a country we can’t afford it.”



“Responding to their request specifically for April first, do you see that being a possibility or probability?”


Prime Minister John Briceño

“Well we can meet April first, it all depends on them if they are able to negotiate seriously and work with what we have in front of us. I mean, if we can’t finish the negotiations by the first of April then we have to continue. But, if they want we could do it on one sitting, it is simple. It is a matter of what needs to be done and they know what needs to be done.”

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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