History shows that in 2005 over one hundred public officers were laid off in a mass retrenchment under the UDP administration. Sir Manuel Esquivel was the Prime Minister at the time and had left office with that legacy brought on by the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Fast forward fifteen years later and the government is facing the possibility of such an exercise. Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, however, says he is far from that point.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I made clear that in the same way as we are determined not to interfere one bit with the substantive salary package of the public servants we are equally resolved not to lay off one single solitary public officer. For us retrenchment is absolutely not on the table. In terms of how I proceed if the PSU maintains its intransigence I’ve said that there is the intention to amend the public service regulations dealing with salaries to give myself, on behalf of the government, the power then to impose the foregoing of the retrenchment. There’s another way I could do it I could simply impose without even seeking to change the SI on the basis that even though there would be an argument on the part of the Public Service Union that I’m doing this unilaterally and without first seeking the sanction of law that is an argument that could prevail legally except then it runs afoul of the fact that no court can force a government to pay money it does not have.”
Yesterday we told you of a situation at the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town Council where ten employees were laid off due to their inability to meet their expenditures. According to the Prime Minister, such a move was expected.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I believe the Belize City Council has certainly cut wages so what is happening at the San Ignacio/ Santa Elena Town Council is not unexpected. I had an SOS from the Mayor of Punta Gorda Town, there’s an SOS from the local airline industry all that makes the point government’s revenue collections are collapsing, have collapsed. We have to borrow to keep the public service whole.”