The Fiscal Burden of the Public Service
According to the Draft National Budget for 2017/2018 there are just under fifteen thousand public officers on the Government’s payroll. This is costing taxpayers just over four hundred million dollars on an annual basis. One question posed to the Prime Minister yesterday was whether Belizeans are getting bang for their buck when it comes to the performance of teachers and public officers across the board.
“I prefer to think that certainly in terms of the public officers with whom I am principally concerned that a good faith effort is being made by the public officers to curtail costs, to cut expenses, to ensure that there is no the kind of wastage in terms of electricity and fuel and telephone that we are accustomed to seeing. With respect to the teachers I suppose there is an argument to be made as to whether or less than stellar results in terms of things like the PSE are a consequence of the children not being as bright as when you were going to school and I don’t accept for a moment that that can be the case but that argument can be put up its a choice between that and the version or the opinion you offered that maybe the teachers aren’t cutting it. I’m not going to get into that let the Ministry or let the Minister of Education speak to that the fact is that they are there and I don’t see how we can be retrenching teachers if there is a problem with their skills then there is a way to deal with that but I don’t think the way is to have less of them so there can be no question of retrenchment of teachers.”
“But speaking to the larger issue in principle, a large section of the population must bank roll these increases.”
“That has always been the case that a large section of the population bank rolls the payment of these people now as those payments increase you’re right there is more pressure on the public that whose taxes help pay for these things. It’s a very nice conundrum I’ve tried to approach it to look at things in the round and I believe that while continued pressure will be put on public officers and on teachers to do better I don’t think the general public would like to see these people sent home at all.”
In a 2014 document from the Public Service Ministry there was a total of thirteen thousand nine hundred and sixty seven employees. The Belize Defence Force accounted for one thousand one hundred and eight while the Belize Police Department accounted for one thousand six hundred and fifty three persons; there was a register of five thousand three hundred teachers and instructors as well as three hundred and forty nine open voter workers and two thousand two hundred and fifty one public officers.