The Public Service Union (PSU) is up in arms that Government CEOs will not receive a ten percent salary cut. Cabinet Secretary Stuart Leslie wrote to CEO earlier this month, telling them that their salaries and allowances remain as recommended in May 2020 with no further cuts. Senior Reporter, Hipolito Novelo reports.
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: This was Prime Minister John Briceno on Thursday….
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “That’s the problem when people speak when they don’t know the facts or all the facts.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: He was speaking of the President of the Public Service Union Dean Flowers, and in response Flowers said this:
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “I think with all due respect to the Office of the Prime Minister I think that the person holding that office currently needs to take his own advice in terms of learning the facts.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: At the center of the back and forth is this letter. It’s date July 2, and was sent by Cabinet Secretary Stuart Leslie to all Chief Executive Officers. In the letter, Leslie tells the CEO that their salaries and allowances remain as recommended in May 2020 with no further cuts.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “There were pay raises in 2012, 2015 and 2017. The CEOs did not get a raise in 2017. In 2020 the Prime Minister did not touch their salary but did touch their allowances so that when these – well every government has to bring in, you have to give a new contract to the CEOs it was agreed that these CEOs will not get the higher salary that they used to get before they took the same salary from 2015 and did not reflect the raise in 2017. And also because they’ve already been cut, their allowances have already been cut, then it was not fair then to cut it again and that is why Stuart Leslie sent out that letter to the finance officers so that they could understand when they’re making out the salary.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: But Flowers says otherwise.
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “For the Prime Minister to now say that CEOs were not included in that clearly demonstrates that he’s clueless about what he’s talking about. CEOs are contract officers, they negotiate their salaries. Wether or not they negotiate that as a group at a set figure that is not my concern, that is something between them and the Ministry of Finance and as such when public officers via the PSU negotiate via a collective bargaining agreement for a salary adjustment or we get an increment of course that would not be attributable to a contract officer.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: A CEO in earns a base salary of $76,300 a year. That’s $1,589 a week or $6,358 per month. In the letter, Leslie tells the CEOs that the decision was approved by Cabinet. Education Minister Francis Fonseca says he doesn’t recall that discussion.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education. “I’m not very clear on the facts around that issue. I recently saw the copy of the letter that has been out in the public but no there was no discussion in Cabinet about – we know changes were made at the Cabinet level so I’m not sure about that. I think that’s a matter you certainly have to take up with the office of the Prime Minister or the Ministry of Finance to see if in fact any adjustments were made. I know as you – I think as you’ve reported in the past that certain deductions were made previously as it relates to CEOs and I don’t know if those had already reflected the 10% cut and so there was not a need for a further 10% cut I don’t know. It may be that is the case. My understanding was that the 10% salary cut would apply to CEOs and I don’t know that that has changed, I don’t know. So as I said if there has been a decision which reflects a change in that position then that’s a matter you’d have to take up with the Office of the Prime Minister. I don’t subscribe to your view as anybody lying because the Cabinet Secretary is not a man who lies. So it may be a misunderstanding about a decision taken. It may be that I am the one who is misunderstanding the decision so that is very possible, very very possible. So as I said it is best for whatever the Cabinet Secretary said to you about that decision it is best for you to rely on what he is saying. It may be that I am the one who is misunderstanding what decisions was taken. He is the one who records Cabinet decisions. I don’t recall any change in that position as it relates to CEOs, I was under the impression that CEOs were also taking a 10% salary cut.”