Members of the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Belize Tax Services Department held a meeting yesterday to discuss issues within the Tax Department. According to PSU, while they have been respectful to the Financial Secretary and the Director General, they have not been given the same respect. Due to this, the PSU met with the FinSec, Joseph Waight, and the Director, Michelle Longsworth on July 31. In this meeting, the failure of the Ministry of Finance to assemble a Project Steering Committee, which is to provide policies and direction to project teams – among other things – was discussed. The PSU stated that they have been reassured that they would have a seat on the committee, but so far has not received a single notice of a meeting or even a Terms of Reference. According to them, the FinSec continues as Project Sponsor with, quote, “utter disregard for to the Union’s concerns and without any respect for the project initiation document.” End quote. The media spoke to the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight earlier today. He didn’t respond to the accusation of having total disregard for the union but he did say he is aware of their concerns.
Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary: “The meeting just happened yesterday evening, I have had no report as to the outcome of that meeting but in general the unions have expressed some concerns regarding the placement of certain officers within the new amalgamated department and we’re trying to work out those issues but beyond that I can’t really say what the specific concerns are because I have not been part of that direct dialogue. But we want to address them and we want to ensure that there’s fairness, equity and nobody’s rights are in any way stepped on but at the same time we have to organize the department along functional lines so that we can provide better services to the tax paying public.”
The release from the PSU noted that without this committee, there is a lack of accountability and transparency in the amalgamation process and disbursement of the project funds. The union reiterated its call for the development of this committee and for a permanent seat to safeguard the interest of public officers in amalgamated departments.