Public Service Minister says increments will be unfrozen in April
Public sector workers and teachers will soon see their increments unfrozen. According to the Minister responsible for the Public Service, Henry Charles Usher, reinstating increments was an important part of the government’s agenda heading into the new fiscal year. He explained that the discussions with the Joint Union Negotiating Team (JUNT) were enlightening.
Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “Let me start off by saying Happy Women’s Day because I need to make sure that I get that out of the way first and I’m hoping that you guys will actually show that when you show my interview later this evening. Yes the Cabinet has agreed to give the public officers the increments or unfreeze the increments starting April first. It has always been our goal to make sure that we unfreeze the increments this upcoming fiscal year. The discussion with the joint union team it was very informative and instructive in terms of how we could get that done this upcoming fiscal year and certainly the head of the union negotiating team and Deputy Prime Minister he was the one certainly pushing that we did it as soon as possible. So it was always the case where we wanted to do it as soon as we could and we’re happy that we were able to do it this upcoming fiscal year.”
Reporter: Is there going to be any mechanism change though as to the assessments ?
Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “Well we’re working on that. We’re actually working at the Ministry of Public Service not only on the appraisals but we’re updating the public service regulations. We’re looking at all the regulations to bring them up to date. I believe the last time public service regulations were updated was around 2014/2015 so I think it’s important that we look at those, we see how we can improve those and we can improve the appraisal system as well.”
Cabinet announced today that the Ministerial Team would continue discussions with the (JUNT) on the matter of the two increment points lost. Those discussions would be based on specific economic performance targets for the fiscal year 2024–25 and beyond. The government will implement a phased approach to public sector pension reform. In phase one, the goal is to institute, effective July 1, 2023, a new contributory pension scheme applicable only to new entrants into the Belize public service. Phase two will include a comprehensive review of the existing public service pension scheme to determine how to make it more effective, efficient, and sustainable. For this purpose, a working group will be established, including the government, JUNT, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, GAMAS, and the private sector. We also reached out to the president of the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) for a comment. Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser said in part, quote “The negotiating Ministers had give(n) us their undertakings that they would have put the position strongly to Cabinet why it would it been the equitable to reinstate the increment. They followed through which make the rest of the negotiations hopeful” End quote.