The Public Service Union is preparing to submit a response to the Government of Belize on a list of cutbacks within the public service proposed by the Financial Secretary. The letter was sent earlier this week with four measures aimed at producing savings for the Government of Belize for the fiscal year 2020/2021. Among those measures is the freezing of annual increments for teachers at Government owned schools as well as those hired at a denominational school. Education Minister Patrick Faber spoke of the proposed measure as it relates to teachers.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Belize: “That is among other proposals that are coming out of a committee that of course that is set up to try to cut government spending. I think all will agree and understand that this is a very difficult time financially and one of the objectives that is being put to that committee is to try to cut cost and so these are very premature things that are being put out there, suggestions as to where we can cut. I have seen where there’s already some objection on the part of teachers but I appeal, if this is what it has to come down to you know there are many many people who have lost their jobs they don’t have another paycheck coming and the government is now tasked with trying to bring some relief to them. There’s been no talk as far as I know in those suggestions about stopping salaries for teachers whatsoever we’re simply talking about those wage increments and that is for the public service and the teachers and it’s merely a proposal at this time but the greater thing I think we need to make an appeal for is the understanding that this is something that all of us have to do together. It’s not going to be easy but some are in a much better predicament than others, those government workers who continue to collect a salary are really in a much better position. You saw what happened with the City Council over night half of your salary is gone there is an attempt to still at least pay something but there are many who are in the private sector who have had to let go workers, the tourism industry because there are no tourists coming in now have had to let 2go workers, the hotels because there are no occupancy now they have had to let go workers so this is not something that is happening in isolation and so we appeal to all of those who might be in a better position to try to lend a helping hand and that is merely what that objective aims to do.”
The freezing of annual increments for this fiscal year would also apply to Permanent Establishment and Open Vote Employees of the Public Service, (including members of the security forces). The other three measures being proposed are the withholding of the monthly expense allowance afforded to Heads of Departments and Senior Public Officers for the upcoming fiscal year; a reduction in the gratuity payments for all contract officers (from 20% to 17.5 % of basic earnings) and a reduction in vacation leave for all contract officers (from 30 to 20 working days). With these measures implemented, it is expected that a total of seventeen million dollars would be saved by the Government. Love News understands that the Public Service Union has put together a committee to look at the proposals. The union is expected to respond to the Financial Secretary by the end of this week. We will keep you posted.