Association of Beneficiaries and Retired Public Officers to Protest in Belmopan Tomorrow

Association of Beneficiaries and Retired Public Officers to Protest in Belmopan Tomorrow

A protest is expected to be held in Belmopan as Day One of the Budget gets underway at the National Assembly Building. Protesting are members of the Association of Beneficiaries and Retired Public Officers. They say they want their money, and they want it now. President of the Association, Hubert Enriquez, communicated to members that he had managed to obtain a protest permit and called for a peaceful demonstration by all beneficiaries, who were encouraged to wear a white t-shirt. The association says it wants the public service workers’ trust dissolved and beneficiaries compensated in cash. There are beneficiaries of the trust whose salaries and increments were frozen by the government between 1995 and 1997. Enriquez told Love News this evening that the members of the association are tired of waiting. 

Hubert Enriquez, President, ABRPO: “It is really a long standing issue and we have been discussing this matter for quite a while now but basically we are protesting tomorrow because we need urgent action regarding the termination of the trust. The government had made a position known, which is the Prime Minister in last year December I believe it was when they did indicate that the government was going to terminate  the trust and to distribute the proceed of the trust to beneficiaries but what we see happen on the ground is the fact that you know the PSWT continues to operate as if nothing has happened and we’re very mindful of the fact that if it continues the way it is then it’s going to be mean that the funds are going to be depleted and then the compensation which we seek the products will no longer  be there and so whilst we support the government in terms of what they’ve said they want to do we need action on the ground to make sure that that happens. And so that’s really what’s happening tomorrow. People are frustrated, they want to see action taken to get the trust dissolved so that they can get the compensation.”

Reporter: Mr.Philip Castillo, one of the trustees says that the court has ruled to determine that the trust is not to be dissolved or be given as cash payment to the beneficiaries but rather for it to be invested in projects and grant projects for the benefit of the beneficiaries. How do you respond to that ?

Hubert Enriquez, President, ABRPO: “Well the government does not agree and even the government does not agree with that. In fact the government is really is settler and they have now said that in fact notwithstanding what was written then that really and truly the intention really is for – and this is really common sense that intent says for compensation for public officers. It was through a vehicle called the PSWT and through projects that no longer applies. I mean the fact is that fund has matured to the extent to which now that doubt that compensation can be paid to public officers so there’s no longer any need to go through projects. The days of projects are finished and it’s twenty seven years hence and so we are truly it is in my mind, and the minds of beneficiaries right and just for people to be paid whatever they deserve just the same way in which now the PSU and the BNTU are celebrating the fact that they have now gotten their increase repaid to them. It’s similar to what happened to us many years ago and so we’re asking for nothing less.”

According to Enriquez, he wrote to Prime Minister John Briceno, asking that the trust be dissolved. Enriquez claims that the Prime Minister agreed. However, members are getting impatient since it has been months.

Hubert Enriquez, President, ABRPO: “They have now agreed to do so but there is some foot dragging you know because the Attorney General needs to weigh in on the matter and that is where I believe the delay is and so we really have tried to speak with them at all levels including in the Prime Minister’s office, the AG’s office and so forth but we think that it’s now time for us to take action to let them know we’re really serious about this whole matter and want it to be resolved. I mean it’s taken too long now and people are getting frustrated, beneficiaries are dying almost quite a few have passed away since this whole matter came to being and we don’t want to continue and to be in a position where even when it’s actually finally terminated there’s no funds left in the trust. We’ve had this statement from the Prime Minister over two months now going on three months, as a matter of fact three months exactly because tomorrow is going to be the 22nd and we believe the statement was made on the 22nd of December so it’s almost three exact months but as I said earlier the concerns from the beneficiaries is the fact that if we’re waiting too long and things are continuing the way they’re continuing, project monies are being spent on certain grocery bags and so forth we don’t know to what extent there’s going to be funds left to pay what has to be paid. And so that is really the concern that there ought to be action taken immediately to ensure that at least some level of compensation is granted to those public officers who are deserving.”

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