PM Blames Magistrates’ Salary Issue on UDP Administration
Of recent, there were also queries regarding the salaries of magistrates, prosecutors and crown counsels. As a matter of fact, there have been three instances where prosecutors have effected a sick-out in protest of their salaries. Again, Prime Minister indicated that the problem is a result of the previous administration granting salary increases against the set salary scales.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Reminds me of a man that would light this house on fire and then criticize the fire department for not causing this fire. Because this is something that his UDP government, his father’s government created and now wants to come and blame us for something that we had nothing to do. We are fixing the problem. You got my number. Shut up. Shut up.”
House Speaker: “Member from Mesopotamia. 42B.”
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “That’s a problem. That’s a problem. When you use the word simple, look in the mirror.”
House Speaker: “Member 42B. I have cautioned you.”
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “That’s why you’re there and I’m here. Madam Speaker in 2012 the then UDP government approved the upgrading of posts and increase in salaries of the Attorney General’s Ministry. Those to be affected, positively, were the Deputy Solicitor General, Assistant Solicitor General, Senior Crown Counsel, Senior Magistrate, Crown Counsels, Magistrate, Legal Officers, and Legal Assistants. The increase would take them to at least two levels on their respective pay scales. Of course, like everything under the UDP, this did not happen. What followed was a number of discrepancies and anomalies in the salaries being paid to Crown Council and Legal Officers. This discrepancy began to emerge following the intake of new officers after the 1st of April 2012 and caused issues among the ranks of the legal officers. Guess who they started to hire after April 1st, 2012 in the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Ministry? If you give me a little hint I’ll whistle if you’re correct. Simply what happened back then is that the children of the ministers, UDP ministers who got scholarships paid by the Government of Belize started to come back to work. And they were hired at that office and so we know what happened. You know, some better than the rest. So some of these young officers were being paid above what the rest were collecting. But we will leave that as that Madam Speaker. So, Madam Speaker, as there have been the case the case with many matters left unfinished and left to fester by the previous government, we, this PUP government, is now left to fix this mess and correct yet another UDP blunder or incompetence. So last November, the Ministry of Finance upgraded these posts and increased salaries and allowances for staff at the Attorney General’s ministry trying to correct this. This means that each officer’s salary has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they were placed on the correct salary point and whether corrections needed to be made. And in the case of officers who received compensations, i.e. honorariums, to mitigate the differences such amounts would be subtracted from any amounts like retro-payments that may be due. Our government, further, in December of last year, 2023, appropriated some $1.5 million to give effect to this commitment made in 2012 when the revenue appropriations supplementary Number 2 of 2023 Bill for the Financial Year 2023-2024 was passed by the National Assembly.”