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GOB to Fully Restore the Salaries of Public Officers and Teachers

In four months’ time, public officers and teachers will see their ten percent in salaries restored. The decision came out of a 2-day Cabinet retreat out west as the government ministers met to lay out the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Prime Minister John Briceno alluded to the decision this morning on the SunUp Talk Show but said he would not be making an official decision until he has informed the joint unions. What he did make clear, however, is the need to revamp the pension scheme for public officers, saying that as it stands, it just is not sustainable.

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “As it is right now, a non-contributable pension, eh, contributory pension that the public officers get is costing us. It’s already about $100 million per year and by 2025 it will probably be as much as $150 million so it’s unsustainable. So we’re looking at that. They have pretty much agreed to do some pension reform. Also agreed to, well we’re looking at what kind of other benefits we can give our public officers all within the scope of maintaining fiscal prudence, so that took a long discussion. It’s not a matter that there’s not going to be nothing for them. We’re looking at setting up another pension system or scheme whereby, they will contribute something and we will contribute something and so when you combine that with the social security then you’d be better off. Presently and good for them, there are many instances where public officers retire at 55 after working 20- 25 years with government with the pension they collect from government and the pension they collect from Social Security, there are many instances where some of these public officers, they are collecting more than their salary as to when they were working. Point is, it’s unsustainable and we have to fix it. Successive governments have been talking about it in the fringes but have never sat down to really discuss it. I remember I was back, way back as 2004. We brought, I was talking with it with the Prime Minister Said Musa at that time but because of other matters, we could not address it. We need to address it now. It can’t wait any longer.”

Our newsroom received a copy of the letter from the Prime Minister to the joint unions where he explained that despite the IMF’s advice to not fully restore salaries, the government found it necessary to ease the fiscal burden of its public officers by giving back the ten percent that was cut on June 1, 2021. The Prime Minister further wrote, quote, “I am therefore most pleased to inform that my Cabinet has agreed that in this upcoming fiscal year, the Government of Belize will fully restore the wages and salaries of our public officers and teachers. To be more specific, as of July 1, 2022, the 10% reduction in wages and salaries will be no more. It will be restored not in stages, not in increments, but in full as of that date. Allowances that had been reduced will also be restored in full. On restoration of wages and salaries on July 1, 2022, the work week for public officers and teachers will also revert to the normal work week of 39.5 hours per week. Increments will continue to be frozen for two additional fiscal years as previously indicated unless we are able to achieve an end-of-year primary surplus as a percentage of GDP of no less than 3.5% before then, in which event we shall revisit the matter of increments.” End of quote. Commenting on the decision was President of the Belize National Teachers Union, Elena Smith, who told our newsroom via text, that while they are yet to meet with the government to get the details of the restoration, she is certain that the BNTU’s membership will be grateful. President Smith further said, quote, “we look forward to our follow up meeting with the government team to discuss the terms they will present so we can determine the best options for our members.” End of quote./////