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NTUCB President Speaks on National Issues

It’s been months since the Briceno Administration has not filled the seat of Ombudsman. The previous Ombudsman, Lionel Arzu demitted office in the earlier part of 2021. In a letter dated March thirty-one 2021, Arzu wrote to Prime Minister John Briceno confirming his departure as his contract expired and was not renewed. The end of this month will mark nine months since the country has been without an Ombudsman. It’s a very concerning matter says President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, Luke Martinez. Martinez says that hundreds of Belizeans depend on the services offered by the office of the Ombudsman. Martinez added that filling the post should be a government priority.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Hundreds of Belizeans reach out to that office for assistance right? Especially dih young bwoy deh dah prison and need feh mek thheir case come up. That office is very important and so the government needs to appoint an Ombudsman, an Ombudsman has to be appointed.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News:  It’s been months since one has not been named. How long do you think it will take the government to appoint someone, to find someone?

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Well deh have to put that on on top priority list, it has to be on top of the priority listing.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News:  Yeah but the minute we are talking about it now means it’s not on the list of priorities.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “Well I’m saying it should be on the list of priority, it should be.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News:  Ok so what happens if another year passes or another three months.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Nuh man, weh yuh mean another year?  That dah – remember this fall under governance breda.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News:  But do you believe that they are seriously having a problem looking for someone adequate for that office? 

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: I nuh think soh. I nuh know what’s the problem I wish I knew what’s the problem. I don’t know what’s the problem.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News:  Maybe no one wants the job.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “Advertise the job and yuh wah know if nobody want it.”

During the interview Martinez criticized the government for bringing yet another Appropriation Supplementary Bill, asking for millions more. Based on this, Martinez says that the government should be more fiscally responsible.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “You came to parliament in April yuh cut the budget so much million and then you come in October come get the amount weh yuh mih cut. Ah weeks lata not even 6 weeks after there about inna December from October to December yuh come and yuh come for millions more. We meh expect that yuh meh dih come back for more. For insure feh give back the people dem who made the sacrifice weh yuh tek from deh. 15% Hipolito nuh 10% and we have to stop talk about 10%. Ten percent dah nuh the real amount dah 15%. How I come up with 15% true? Memba deh cut we increment. Two increment so one increment dah 2.5%”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Government say he needs the money that’s why they brought the supplementary bill.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Yeah they need the money and we understand they need the money and we need fi we money too. This bring us to fiscal discipline this administration spoke about when they took over and why they had to cut our salary and why they had to do what they needed to do, to do away with the super bond. All of us are happy that the super bond is gone, all of us and yes you hear thank you to the unions for the sacrifice. Hipolito thank you can’t put, can’t put food pan 14,000 people inna deh plate, it can’t put it can’t put food deh. Thank you can’t.”

An on the performance of the People’s United Party since taking over government a little more than a year ago, Martinez was quick to give them a grade.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “ I’m not going to pull out a grade book Hipolito. You have 5 years to govern. You have 5 years to govern. A lot of people like to set this ‘I want to get this done in a 100 days.’ that’s foolishness. I don’t have a grade to give the government.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: But would you say that the government has performed well in its first year ?

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “I don’t know how they perform Hipolito. I’m not going to answer that.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: But you’re the watchdog. You suppose to know if the government is doing good or bad based on it’s manifesto, based on it’s plan Belize program.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “Yes but I’ve mentioned to you the struggles that we have face throughout this year and how we can strengthen them. I’ve done so.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: So do you believe that the government has been transparent in its first year?

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “In what manner? The Fin.Sec was supposed to be abiding by the financial regulations to present his 6 months report to the people of Belize, make it available that nuh happen.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Do you believe that the government has been or has held itself accountable for the past year.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Yes and No.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Ok so let’s drop off the fence and explain why yes or explain why no.

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: Look I don’t want to have no discussion over over weh the government do or from what the government nuh do because the government know weh it suppose to do especially if you have a super majority and having super majority doesn’t mean that you are going to do what you want. It doesn’t mean that.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Ok so do you believe that the government has fulfilled its pledge on good governance in the first year ?

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB: “I don’t think the government make a step towards dah pledge yet, towards the motion.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: The Unions have the good governance draft legislation that’s a step. Won’t you agree?

Luis Martinez, President NTUCB:No that’s not a step.”