Last week, Love News also spoke with President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) who told us that it would be unfair of the government to ask the teachers and public officers to take a salary cut when nothing is being done to persons who have fleeced monies and government assets. President Smith says with the union would not be so amenable to a cut, all things considered. Again for context here is that interview and the Prime Minister’s response.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “We are hearing out on the street that there is going to be a request for salary cuts for public officers and teachers. Nothing has come to us officially. We are only hearing words on the street, we are only hearing that this matter will be addressed after the election because you know you don’t want to have those kinds of things before an election so it’s going to be addressed after an election. But how do you expect that we would come and we would say “Yes sure, cut my salary.” if we see that all of these things are happening and nothing is being done to address those matters but yet we must be the ones who have not had any hand in any of that, who have not benefited in any way from any of that will now have to come and pay because persons did not do what they were supposed to do when they were given that position of authority, they did not account, they were not transparent, the did not mind the coffers the way they should have done and we’re in a situation where our country is in a mess right now as we keep hearing from several persons, now we must pay the price for that it’s unfair to us. But yet if you hear the teachers come out and say we don’t agree to a salary cut how many people will come against us? Everybody will jump up and say “Oh the teachers don’t care and the teachers want everything and the teachers-” but nobody said anything when those persons were benefitting. Nobody spoke about that but the moment we stand up against being penalized because it’s like you are penalizing me for something I didn’t do and the people who did it are getting away free. So there has to be some serious push from all corners not just the teachers because we have been accustomed to teachers are the ones who are out there standing up. There has to be this push and this collaboration between all aspects, all areas of society; the unions yes, the Chamber yes, the churches yes, the regular working person out there to come together and push for these things to be put in place and by a certain deadline. If we don’t do that this will continue and it’s going to get worse.”
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I am sure that the president of the BNTU Senator Smith would know that you just can’t show up to court and say “Oh this one did this.” we have to have everything, the evidence in place and it takes some time. The Minister of Infrastructure Development has already taken out a lot of information and affidavits from employees at that ministry which was first the Ministry of Works where they laid out the allegations that were made against the former Minister Montero where the allegations were that he was using government employees working his farm, government diesel, government pickups, government equipment, even heavy duty equipment was found in his farm and the people at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development had to go there and physically move those equipment from there. So we are showing that we are doing but it’s not a matter of just jumping up and saying “Oh this one-” we have to get information and we have to make sure that we do it right so that they cannot get away on a technicality. So I ask Belizeans and Senator Smith in particular to be patient, to give us the time we just got in and there was so many pressing issues that we had to address; the issue of COVID, the flooding, the financial crisis you know all of these things that we’re juggling and trying to manage and address as best as we possibly can.”