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Barrow addresses BNTU’s Demands

Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded to the letter sent by the BNTU which he said he learnt via the BNTU’s press release yesterday. In his letter, the Prime Minister says that it is the BNTU who was disrespectful. Barrow stated quote, “It was written in a peremptory, demanding and uncivil fashion. I nevertheless tried to avoid any similar vein of discourtesy in responding. Notwithstanding, you have tendentiously labelled my reply and that is unfortunate.” End of quote. The Prime Minister goes on to address the eight demands negotiated last year. Barrow points out that the Senate Select Committee has been appointed. As for the Danny Mason investigation, the Prime Minister states that quote, “investigation by the Belize Police Department has resulted in charges, including of murder, being brought. The International Investigation that you wanted could not proceed without a proper terms of reference, something you were never able to finalize with the AG. Also, we rejected from the start your argument that Minister Godwin Hulse was conflicted as Police Minister. Still, as is common knowledge, there have been two changes of Police Ministers though the changes had nothing to do with your position.” End of quote. Prime Minister Barrow also states that the Cost Savings Committee is still in existence and working on a continuing, if intermittent, basis. Barrow reminds Senator Smith that the Integrity Commission and the 13th Senator have long since been appointed, and the UNAC signed. The Prime Minister asserts that the Public Accounts Committee is functional because it has held meetings and will hold more soon. As for the amendment to the Social Security Act, the PM writes that is not quote, “an issue exclusive to the BNTU. Indeed, the substance of the amendment to be legislated was a matter of consensus among GOB, you, the PSU and APSSM. It was also approved by the NTUCB. But I had asked the Joint Unions Negotiating Team to provide me with draft language so that I could be sure that we are all completely on the same page before going to Parliament. I am yet to receive that draft.” End of quote. As for the BNTU’s Proposal 22, the Prime Minister responded quote, “as you are only too aware, a matter for Joint Staff. And there you have not been able to win support for your Proposal from either PSU, APSSM or GOB.” End of quote. Demand number seven dealt with the Tax reform process and the PM reminds Senator Smith that the Unions have been invited to be involved in the process. The last demand dealt with the Occupational Safety and Health. As an update, the Prime Minister told Senate Smith quote, “You, no doubt as part of a quid pro quo when you were seeking support for your campaign from the BCCI, agreed that the OSH Bill could not proceed until negotiations take place between you and the Chamber. I had expected that you would proceed with those negotiations under the umbrella of the NTUCB, since again the OSH Bill is not the special preserve of the BNTU. But it is now a year later and I have heard not a peep about any negotiations having commenced. I am therefore in the dark about where we are with this and, as with the Social Security Amendment, the ball remains in your court.” End of quote.