PSWT and Union to go to Mediation over Dispute

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Updated: December 7, 2017

The court did not order an injunction against the Public Service Workers’ Trust and the union. That is the resounding message sent today during a press conference held in Belize City by the management and trustees of the PSWT. It is an issue that dates back to 1995 and involves thousands of public workers and almost eight million dollars. The PSWT has been in a legal battle with its beneficiaries over the use of the monies and recently the PSWT fought off an injunction which was sought by some of the beneficiaries. Last week, the court ordered that the lists and details of loans be provided to the other parties in the case before loans are disbursed. Today the management and trustees of the PSWT held a press conference to clarify the matter.

Dr.Phill Castillo, Mutually Agreed Trustee

“Beneficiaries initially sued the court because our interpretation of the original documents is that the Trust is to undertake projects, the beneficiaries initially thought otherwise, they thought that they were owed monies and based thereon they took us to court. Now what the court said, the first judgment is that the beneficiaries of the Trust, we the trustees had thought that the beneficiaries were all public officers the court took a different opinion; the court sided with the beneficiaries and the court said that the beneficiaries are that narrow cohort who are affected from1995-1997 but then what we regard as a significant victory is that at the time the beneficiaries wanted money, in fact, some people still want money. There is still the misconception out there that the purpose of the trust is to give money to people. That is simply not so. The purpose of the trust is to undertake projects and that was reiterated in the first court case. Now the beneficiaries took us to court again because what the court also ordered was that an accounting of all the funds that the trust spent, that that be done. Now we regard this second court case as a victory because what the beneficiaries wanted was for the trustees to pay back the money; I think Channel 7 is guilty of saying that several times. That is misinformation. The judgment is not for the trustees to pay back any monies; the judgment is for the trustees to give an account of all monies that have been spent. Our auditors have completed the 2016 audit which is on our website and as we speak now they are working on the audit from 1996-2013- as soon as that is available that will be made public to any and all beneficiaries and also placed on our website.”

Caliz

“The funds are strictly for projects and the court upheld that because of the documents, the circular between government and us that is clear. The court agreed that the beneficiaries should only be that cohort, the 1995-1997 group. We have no problem with that because it is that groups increment who is frozen so no problem. So for them to say that we have other people benefiting, we don’t agree with that because a loan is not a benefit and all we are doing is investing the money. That’s it. Our beneficiaries, the claimants, are of the opinion that the people who borrow from the scheme benefit; a loan is not a benefit if you have to pay it back. Now when we venture into some of these projects, which are not projects that will give us returns we have to look for a way to keep the funds growing and that is what we are trying to explain to our beneficiaries and they keep thinking that we are squandering these funds. No. Hence the reason that we make certain that we hire reputable auditors to audit and to prove to this country that we are not doing that. We are safeguarding the funds. We have the same interest as them, we do.”

Both parties have been ordered to mediation.