While many public officers continue to clamor against the ten percent cut in their salaries, members of the Belize Coast Guard (BCG) accepted the cut and have chosen to prepare for it instead of fighting against it. Acting Commandant of the BCG, Gregory Soberanis told the media that sailors have been in preparation for the cut for some time now. According to Soberanis, the BCG has implemented classes in financial literacy to aid sailors in making important budget decisions.
Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “We had prepared our people prior to the actual implementation of the pay cut. One of the things that we did as an organization, and we’ll continue to do it, is classes in financial literacy. So for example next week we have a team coming in that will go through budget planning with members of the coast guard. How do you manage the resources that you have, your financial resources that you have in the light of these budgetary cuts. So as an organization we have to be prudent stewards of the resources that we have, of the budget that has been approved for us and that is translated to every member of the coast guard. So what we want to do is to provide them with the tools and the skill set for them to sit with their families and go through that budget planning and see how they will make it work for them as individual families. So these are some of the initiatives that we have taken in order to assist our people going through this difficult time. We know the coast guard does not operate in a bubble. The country of Belize does not operate in a bubble. COVID has had it’s effect and impact not only to Belize but global and so we have tried our best to ensure that our people are able to navigate these tough and challenging waters. We know that no storm lasts forever and so it’s just a matter of us navigating through the storm knowing that it will end and we will be able to sail calm seas in the future.”
Soberanis also noted that he met with officers explaining the country’s dire financial situation, and as an arm of the security forces, he says, they are in support of the Government.
Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “You have to understand that we are a military organization and yes while we do not unionize our leadership were made aware of the concerns of the men and women in the coast guard. Those concerns were factored into their decision making process but at the end of the day as a military organization we maintain focus on our mission and our mandate. The safety and security, the territorial integrity of the maritime space was what we focused on and we ensure that we maintain our focus on that particular mandate. And as well we engage our people, we had disposals with members of the coast guard, we ensured that the dialogue was there, that we gave them that conduit for them to express their concerns and we made sure as I mentioned earlier that those concerns were channeled up to our leadership.”
Soberanis added that the morale of his sailors remains at an all-time high despite the cut in their salaries.