On the list of controversies is the hike in the Governor General’s salary from an estimated fifty-three thousand dollars annually to seventy-five thousand. The news sparked outrage on social media with the majority of the contributors questioning the raise in salary when public officers and teachers were just recently given a pay cut of ten percent. Interestingly, however, the opposition didn’t seem to have much issue with the salary adjustment. Instead, they listed contention on the term of the contract which is seven years. UDP’s Albert Area Representative, Tracy Taegar Panton’s position was that if the government is fixing a date for constitutional bodies and persons to stay at that position for five years, why not the GG as well.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “Governor General who is the constitutional office holder we can define a term of seven years and I can only assume that we wish to have some continuity of the end of a parliamentary term to the other but in the case of the other constitutionally appointed offices or bodies which the 10th amendment bill, and we’ll get a time to debate that, but I just want to draw the comparison that where it relates to the Election and Boundaries Commission, where it relates to the Public Service Commission and the Belize Advisory Council that same kind of institutional memory is not seemingly required and we want to amend the constitution to only allow for a period of the term of the government and it seems to me rather hypocritical that we would seek to have different terms and conditions for very serious constitutionally appointed bodies and offices held by the government administration. If we want to look at a five year term I think it should apply across the board Madam Speaker and if we ant to consider a seven year term it should also be across the board in my opinion. You see I have great difficulty to think that persons who are appointed from whichever side of the political fence don’t have any integrity of their own, that is the suggestion. That they cannot act in conformity with the responsibility of their office because of who appointed them, I don’t happen to share that view.”
Responding to Panton was Prime Minister John Briceno who said the office of the Governor-General is on a different level.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I really believe that the Governor General is a different level than any other appointment in the country. The Governor General is a representative of the Queen. Ceremonially he or she in this case she is the ceremonial head of this country. And we felt that it is best for this appointment to go into the next term then the new government will have enough time to be able to decide who to be another suitable Governor General. The position of the Governor General is one that is above politics. Dame Minita Gordon and Sir Colville Young they served with distinction. Sir Colville Young was an NIP supporter and a UDP supporter, he wrote songs for the UDP but once he was appointed at Governor General he left his politics outside and he served with distinction. So I am asking the member from Albert to also give that opportunity to the next Governor General so that in this case that she can serve with distinction right now and then go into the next term and give new government a chance to take their time and to find another suitable Governor General. And who knows what is going to happen in the future because I think it is high time for us to start to look at the type of government that the system that we have and that is one of the things that we will probably be talking about in the near future whether we want to stay with the parliamentary system or do we want to go to a republican system or find a hybrid between a parliamentary system and a republican system. We need to find what fits Belize best.”
The House of Representatives on Friday approved a motion to amend the schedule to the Governor General Act. In addition to the salary increase, the Governor General Condition of Service Amendment Bill provides for health insurance coverage. Parliamentarians from both sides of the House supported the motion.