Our newsroom has received a copy of an internal memo sent from Health Minister, Michel Chebat to the CEO, Dr. Deysi Mendez that expenditures exceeding three thousand six hundred dollars must be personally authorized by him (the minister). PSU President Dean Flowers also spoke on this situation saying that not only is it a case of micro-management, but it is also stripping the CEO of her authority.
Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “The note that you speak of goes beyond micromanaging. I think that as I stated to my colleagues I think the minister is out of order. The minister needs to understand that he has a CEO who is the accounting officer and also that there’s a finance officer who is responsible to ensure that before any purchase or payment is made that the rules and regulations that governs the spending or collecting of government revenues or expenses are followed. That is not the role and responsibility of the minister and so where that note from the minister to the CEO is concerned I would hope that the Prime Minister or the Cabinet Secretary will inform the minister that he’s out of line and that he has no such authority. It is expected of course that the CEO will apprise of the minister of what happens within the ministry but the CEO does not need any approval or prior approval from the minister in the running and administrating of the financial affairs of that ministry. And so again it’s micromanaging yes but it’s also usurping one’s authority which is what Minister Chebat has been doing since November 12th 2020 when he brought in his transition team.”
Further reports to our newsroom indicate that the public officers have been demoralized over the past months by the new comers. PSU President, Dean Flowers says this has been the case since November 2020. He cited the case of the Director of Health Services, the lack of medical supplies and equipment, coupled with the internal power struggles within the ministry.
Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “What that transition team did was that it disrespected the management team and the management staff in the Ministry of Finance. Those individuals some of them who don’t even have a post but are on the government payroll because they’re there as advisors and still transitioning I don’t know where they’re transitioning. I hope they’re transitioning out the door it’s one year now. But they came in and they disrespected the finance officer and all the administrative staff there and now they’re even disrespecting their own CEO because nobody answers to her from the Minister’s team and clearly as we’re seeing now the minister believes that he can take away the managing authority from the CEO. So the Ministry of Finance there’s a whole lot wrong where that ministry is concerned both from an administrative standpoint and from a technical standpoint. The acting Deputy Director of Health Services is missing in action. He’s receiving an acting allowance I assume since the letter speaks about him acting in the post of Director of Health Services. The Director of Health Services continues to be sidelined, the CEO is being prohibited from carrying out her functions as the accounting officer and the health system continues to suffer. There’s a shortage of medication across this country, nurses are crying out for help, public health workers are not being provided with the kind of support and the equipment that they need to be able to effectively serve the Belizean people, and the saddest part is that while these infightings amongst the minister and his transition team and the CEO and the administrative staff is happening we’re in the middle of a pandemic and people are losing their lives. Somebody needs to step in and of course it will have to be the Prime Minister that needs to step in and get a handle on what’s happening within the Ministry of Health.”