Mayor Bernard Wagner is appealing to the public officers and teachers to understand the financial crisis in Belize, and to make decisions based on reality and not emotions. Our newsroom asked the Belize City leader to weigh in on the impasse between the government and the unions over the issue of salary cuts. According to Mayor Wagner the wage bill is way above the normal threshold. As a matter of fact he says that while the Belize City Council is paying out thirty five cents on every dollar for salaries, the central government is paying out a massive eight five cents. In his words, it’s just not sustainable.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “When you have a situation where for every dollar that you collect you have to pay eighty three cents for salaries so you’re gonna be left with seventeen cents to take care of all the other operational expenses, that cannot work. At the city level we have been able to contain it at thirty five cents and if you go and google what is the standard all across the world it’s in the neighborhood of that. Regionally that is ideally where you want to be but not eighty three cents out of every dollar and this is the situation that our public officers all across this country really need to take a hard look at. Are we willing to sacrifice tomorrow for today? And that is my over all view on the situation. You have to be rational about this, you can’t be about emotions. You have to be rational and you have to recognize that this situation was not attained or came about over the past year or couple of months it came about as a result of a systematic degradation of our public finances over the last thirteen years and given all that’s been said I would urge that our public officers, our teachers included to really take a hard look at this situation and put aside the emotions.”
As for the support from the private sector, Mayor Wagner says this is one time that unions may be standing alone as the private sector have had its share of struggles, cuts and in extreme cases, the closure of their business.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “The private sector is well aware of the situation that’s why the private sector isn’t saying much, they are well aware that the demands of the public servants and the unions are just unrealistic. It’s just unrealistic and come – some of the narrative that are being pushed is in respect to go and collect the three hundred million that is owed. Listen man it’s you to go collect it, you are on the front line you are the public servants. If you couldn’t collect it in thirteen years ago how will you collect it now ? We need to be circumspect, we need to be rational. We need to save our country it’s not about emotions. We have to leave politics alone for a day, let us leave politics alone and let us deal with ensuring that our country remains economically viable and that we do not push it towards a situation down the road where the entire system fails. We are on life support as an economy and we can’t take any more shocks we already went through a pandemic shock, we can’t go through any industrial shock right now and so I want to reach out and call on the public servants, I want to call on the private sector, I want to call on the teachers to let us really be rational, put aside our emotions, put aside all those feelings of politics and let us be rational, let us be rational today.”